Making sense of Apple’s messy MagSafe charging ecosystem, where the first-party options are far from the best ones.
Wireless charging is inefficient in many ways. It charges your phone more slowly than using a cable, uses more energy, and requires near-perfect alignment on a charging pad to even work. But inefficiencies aside, it’s just so dang convenient. So when Apple added a ring of magnets to the iPhone 12 and dubbed it “MagSafe,” things got much more interesting. Not only do the magnets guarantee perfect alignment every time but also, with a MagSafe-certified charger, your iPhone can charge at up to 15W — double the 7.5W they get with other wireless chargers. And the magnets also allow for nifty accessories, like car mounts and detachable card wallets.
The iPhone 14 is the third generation of MagSafe phones, but the ecosystem is still a little messy. It can be confusing to figure out whether a charger is “with MagSafe” (Apple’s phrase meaning real 15W MagSafe) or just compatible with MagSafe (read: a basic Qi charger with magnets slapped on). But the options on offer now — official and otherwise — are mostly pretty good. We’ve found the best MagSafe and MagSafe-compatible wireless chargers for your iPhone. Because once you go magnetic, it just starts to feel pragmatic.
The best MagSafe chargers
Best MagSafe charger for most people
Official MagSafe compatibility: Yes / Wireless charge output: 15W / Connector type: USB-C / Cable length: 6.5ft (2m) / Warranty: Two years
Belkin’s new BoostCharge Pro with MagSafe is around $10 more than Apple’s own MagSafe Charger, but it outclasses the Apple puck in nearly every way. It’s the only other magnetic charging puck “with MagSafe,” which means it has the same 15W wireless fast charging as Apple’s charger, instead of being limited to 7.5W. But the BoostCharge Pro has a 6.5-foot (two-meter) braided cable — twice as long as Apple’s — and it includes a fold-out kickstand to prop your iPhone up in landscape orientation for watching or playing stuff as you charge.
Since this charger came out, it’s become vanishingly difficult to see why you’d buy Apple’s own MagSafe Charger. Okay, Apple’s charger is cheaper, about 10mm thinner, and a little sleeker — fine. But it’s also hamstrung by a terribly short cable: at just 3.28ft / 1m, it feels like you’re on a short leash to your wall outlet if you want to use the phone as it charges, and it’s not long enough to reach a wall outlet from any furniture taller than a small nightstand. The Belkin BoostCharge Pro with MagSafe fixes the Apple puck’s biggest issue, and if you want that 15W charging, it makes sense to spend the extra money on the longer cable. (If you don’t need the 15W charging — say, for overnight charging — you can get a magnetic charger with a longer cable for much less money, but more on that in the next section.)
Apple’s MagSafe Charger does go on sale from time to time for around $30 or less — creating a bigger price delta between it and the BoostCharge Pro. But frankly, it’d have to be much cheaper for me to recommend it over this Belkin without slightly gritting my teeth. Make sure you also get a quality 20W USB-C power adapter — neither Belkin nor Apple pucks come with their own.
Best magnetic (non-MagSafe) Qi chargers — also best for overnight charging
Belkin: Official MagSafe compatibility: No / Wireless charge output: 7.5W / Connector type: USB-C / Cable length: 6ft (1.8m) / Warranty: Two years
Anker: Official MagSafe compatibility: No / Wireless charge output: 7.5W / Connector type: USB-C / Cable length: 5ft (1.5m) / Warranty: 18 months
You don’t need to pay the extra money for a MagSafe-certified charger if you mostly charge overnight. Unless you’re getting a dangerously low amount of sleep every night, your phone is going to be topped off by morning regardless of which charger you use. In fact, even if you use a 15W MagSafe charger for overnight charging, your iPhone will automatically slow its charge speed to finish charging a little bit before you need it.
So unless you plan to use the same charger for both quick top-ups and overnight charging, you can save money by buying either the Anker 313 Magnetic Wireless Charger or the standard Belkin BoostCharge Magnetic Wireless charger. These non-MagSafe magnetic chargers charge iPhones at the same 7.5W rate as any other Qi wireless charger, and they both work just fine. The Belkin has a six-foot cable, but the Anker has a slightly thinner charging pad and its five-foot wire is adequate for most situations.
What makes both of these exceptional is their value: you can pick up either puck for around $25 with a 20W USB-C power adapter or about $15 without one. They’re affordable enough that you can justify one (or more) even if you also own a fancier MagSafe charger for when you actually need the speed.
You’ll thank me when you can pick up your phone from your bedside table for your nightly doomscrolling without yanking the cable out of the wall. (Wait, I mean your in-bed guided meditation and breathing exercises.)
Best MagSafe charger for travel
Official MagSafe compatibility: Yes / Wireless charge output: 15W / Apple Watch fast charging: No / Connector type: USB-C / Cable length: 3.5ft (1.07m) / Warranty: Two years
Any charger can travel, but that doesn’t mean it travels well. The Mophie 3-in-1 Travel Charger with MagSafe opens like a trifold wallet to charge your phone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at once. It’s pricey at $149.95, but it’s an all-in-one travel solution: its folding multicharger pad, 30W power adapter, and USB-C cable all pack into a soft fabric carrying case.
It’s hard to overstate how handy this Mophie charger is if you travel with any frequency. I’m the type that stresses endlessly when packing for a big trip, and knowing I had all my charging essentials in this little gray satchel gave me a small sense of calm — like having a fully prepacked toiletry bag.
And since this charger actually supports MagSafe charging speeds, it’s good for quick top-ups when you’re only back at your hotel for a short break. You can also squeeze a short USB-C to Lightning cable into the carrying case with the other accessories so you always have slightly faster 20W wired charging on reserve in an emergency.
While Apple’s MagSafe Duo charger takes up even less space in your travel bag — it’s about half as thick as the Mophie — it only charges up to two devices at once. The $129 Duo also costs about the same or more once you factor in a 20W USB-C power adapter and carrying case, both of which the Mophie package covers.
My only gripe with the Mophie 3-in-1 Travel Charger, aside from its high price, is that, like Apple’s MagSafe Duo, it lifts up from a table as you disconnect your phone — so you have to hold it down with another finger as you pull away from the magnets. That’s far from a deal-breaker, but be wary that trying to snooze an early alarm while severely jet-lagged could send your AirPods and Apple Watch crashing down to a hotel room floor.
Best MagSafe 3-in-1 stand for home
Official MagSafe compatibility: Yes / Wireless charge output: 15W / Apple Watch fast charging: Yes, on 2022 revised model / Connector type: AC adapter / Cable length: 4.8ft (1.47m) / Warranty: Two years
Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand is another pricey solution for charging your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at once. But what makes this quirky modern art-like magnetic tree especially good is its MagSafe 15W charging, Apple Watch fast-charge support (for the Series 7, Series 8, and Ultra), and the fact that it puts your phone and watch at a readable level on a desk or table.
In fact, the spacing of the phone and watch above the bottom 5W Qi pad means you can fit a whole other phone down there — making this stand especially good if you have a mixed iPhone / Android household and want to share a little of the wireless charging love.
The Belkin tree is built solidly, with enough weight to prevent your phone or watch from tugging or toppling the whole thing over when removing them. My biggest gripes with it are the high price of $149.99 and the fact that its traditional 12V AC adapter with built-in cable seems larger than it needs to be compared to much smaller USB-C power adapters used by other chargers. Though, since you’re most likely planting this tree in one spot of your home and not moving around with it, the wall wart is mostly forgivable.
Most versatile MagSafe multicharger for home and travel
Official MagSafe compatibility: Yes / Wireless charge output: 15W / Apple Watch fast charging: Yes / Connector type: AC adapter / Cable length: 5ft (1.5m) / Warranty: 18 months
Anker’s new 3-in-1 Cube is its first to support proper 15W MagSafe charging (not simply magnetic Qi), and its nifty compact design makes it an excellent jack-of-all-trades for both home and travel use. It charges your phone in an angled position, with just enough space behind it to wirelessly charge your AirPods, plus a slide-out side drawer for your Apple Watch. I’m happy to see that Anker took the tilt-top design of its cute little soda can 623 MagGo 2-in-1 charger and turned it into an even better 3-in-1. Sadly, in addition to being more angular and much less adorable, it got much more expensive in the process; it costs $149.95 and is only available from Apple or directly from Anker. That means the Cube may not get the frequent discounts we see on Anker products at Amazon or elsewhere.
The price is a bit alarming, but $149.99 seems to be the going rate for MagSafe 3-in-1s. It comes with a 30W USB-C power adapter, and its pop-out Apple Watch charger supports fast charging on compatible models. The charger itself is about the size of a Rubik’s Cube, though it’s slightly taller than it is wide or deep. (Yes, I regret to inform any of you sticklers that the Cube is technically a rectangular prism, not a cube.) Mathematics heresy aside, it feels about as compact as this design can be.
The Anker isn’t quite as good for travel as the fold-up Mophie 3-in-1, and the Belkin tree thing is a better 3-in-1 for home use if you like that elevated height and versatile second Qi spot. But Anker’s Cube is the second-best MagSafe multicharger for home use and travel, which makes it the most versatile option if you travel occasionally and want a single 3-in-1 charger that does it all.
Best MagSafe-compatible battery pack
Official MagSafe compatibility: No / Wireless charge output: 7.5W / Cell capacity: 19.25Wh (5,000mAh) / Connector type: USB-C / Warranty: 2 years
I tested a whole bunch of magnetic battery packs. They were all fine. The MagSafe-compatible options from Anker, Mophie, and Belkin all worked well enough for standard 7.5W wireless iPhone charging, and you’d probably be a-okay picking whichever one works for your tastes when it comes to price, physical size (some are chonky), and battery capacity. It’s nice to have a battery that clicks onto the back of your phone without worrying about cables.
I recommend Anker’s 622 Magnetic Battery (MagGo) over the others I tested — even Apple’s own MagSafe Battery Pack — because it strikes the right balance of portability and battery capacity. It’s barely larger than the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack, but its 19.25Wh cell is nearly double the capacity of Apple’s 11.13Wh. It supports passthrough charging while it’s plugged in, and its built-in origami kickstand is a handy addition that doesn’t add much bulk. The fold-out stand is even strong enough to support a hefty Max-sized iPhone in a protective case, and the Anker 622 battery comes in some fun colors to match your phone — or at least stand out among your other accessories.
Compared to the Anker 622, Apple’s kinda terrible MagSafe Battery Pack has very little going for it. Sure, it’s a little smaller, and its tight iOS integration lets it show its exact battery percentage on your lock screen, which the Anker doesn’t offer. But it’s mostly for top-ups: the meager battery could never fully recharge my iPhone 12 Pro Max that I was testing it with. It doesn’t even charge your phone any faster than the Anker since Apple limits it to 7.5W when on the go. That’s baffling for a $99 battery pack.
If you want true 15W MagSafe charging from a power bank, you can get the Mophie Powerstation 10K stand with MagSafe for $129.95. It’s expensive, awkwardly chonky, and rimmed with cheap-feeling soft-touch rubber that may not age well, but it can reach 15W wireless charging without the assistance of a power plug. Plus, the Mophie’s sturdy metal stand means it could be your desktop charging base that you can fold up and take with you on the go.
Other MagSafe and magnetic chargers worth considering
While the ones above are the best, here are some more options that are still perfectly fine:
- Apple MagSafe Duo charger:If you’re going to spend as much as $129 on this Apple charger, I think it’s better to add another $30 and get the Mophie travel charger, but the Duo is perfectly adequate for travel or home use if you have just an iPhone and Apple Watch. If you’re lucky, it can go on sale for as low as $99.99, though you’ll need to BYO 20W AC adapter.
- Courant Mag:1 Essentials / Classics: Sometimes having something a little “premium” is just, well, nice. Courant’s magnetic charging pucks don’t get you MagSafe speeds, but for $50 to $80 (discounted to as low as $40) and without a USB-C AC charger, you get a sleek design wrapped in soft linen material or posh leather. It’s totally unnecessary, but if you want your tech to not be an eyesore to your home decor, I think they’re totally justifiable. Plus, the Mag:1 has a lengthy six-foot cable.
- Courant Mag:2 Essentials / Classics: Courant’s same elevated formula but this time in a 2-in-1 charger for your phone and earbuds. If you’re the type that obsesses over mid-century modern stylings like hairpin legs and Eames chairs, here’s your (non-MagSafe) magnetic charger. It’s even sold at the Herman Miller store — need I say more?
- Nomad Base One Max: Speaking of premium, the Nomad Base One Max offers full MagSafe charging support and a built-in Apple Watch charger in a sleek and minimalist metal slab. I love this thing as a bedside charger because it’s so hefty that your phone lifts right off without shifting the base even a millimeter. You could also use this thing as an improvised weapon against any would-be intruders since it’s two whole pounds of metal! Melee combat preparedness aside, though, you can get a more useful 3-in-1 charger for the $149.95 price.
- Anker 637 Magnetic Charging Station (MagGo): Ponder the almighty charging orb and all you can potentially plug into it. The Anker 637 is like a weird amalgamation of a magnetic charging stand and a power strip — it has the magnetic Qi charger, two USB-C ports, four USB-A ports, and three AC ports. The Qi charger and USB ports can output up to about 65W combined; you can charge up to seven devices at the same time (not counting the AC ports) or plug in a lone USB-C cable and get up to 65W of power — enough to power even some smaller MacBook Pros. If you think you can find a good use for the Anker 637 in your space, just buy it. It’s super handy and there’s nothing else quite like it. Then email me and teach me the ways of your cable management skills because I always end up turning this thing into a spaghetti monster of cords.
- Anker 623 2-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charger (MagGo): This charger’s real name is terrible, so you should just call it the soda can. As mentioned above, Anker’s soda can is like the precursor to its excellent new 3-in-1 Cube, but it’s much cheaper and does a fine job charging your phone at 7.5W alongside a set of earbuds. Just keep in mind that, if you use it on your bedside table, it will briefly light up your dark room with an obnoxious LED when you put your phone on it to charge.
Other chargers tested include the Twelve South HiRise 3, Mophie Snap Plus Wireless Charger with 3-in-1 Wireless Stand for MagSafe Charger, and various Mophie Snap Plus Juice Pack power banks. These did not make the cut for various reasons, and the recommendations above present better alternatives.
Photography by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge