This Is the Best iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery

This Is the Best iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery
Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo

Apple added MagSafe charging to the iPhone 12 lineup last fall, and though the original MagSafe Apple used in its laptops was far more innovative, the iPhone version of magnetic charging has least one excellent use: letting you power up your smartphone on the go with a cord-free portable charger. But which one is right for your needs? Here are our picks.

We tested four MagSafe-compatible wireless batteries — also often referred to as portable chargers, or power banks — from four companies known for delivering reliable and safe iPhone accessories. Yes, you can probably find cheaper alternatives if you dig deep on Amazon, but is it really worth risking your $1,000+ smartphone to save $15 on a MagSafe battery? Here are the four models we tested:

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack ($139)

Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand (~$108)

Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini ($60)

Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K ($80)

What Is MagSafe?

For those unfamiliar, MagSafe debuted on the iPhone 12 lineup in late 2020. Apple baked a ring of internal magnets encircling a Qi wireless charging coil on the back of each iPhone 12 model. The new feature is designed to serve two purposes: make it easier to properly align the charging coils between the phone and a compatible wireless charging pad so that the transfer of energy is as efficient as possible, and to make it easier to attach accessories to the back of the iPhone, or the iPhone to accessories like car mounts and desk chargers.

For $80, Apple will sell you a leather wallet that piggy-backs on your iPhone, but a portable charger that does the same is far more useful. We’ve already seen portable chargers upgraded with wireless Qi pads so you can charge your smartphone while away from your desk without a cord, but using those solutions while walking or riding the subway can be a challenge as you struggle to keep the charging coils aligned. With MagSafe, the alignment happens automatically, and the battery hangs off your iPhone so you can forget it’s there.

The MagSafe Battery With the Best Design

Whether or not you choose to put a case on your iPhone, you’re making a decision that reflects your tastes and aesthetics as much as it does your desire to protect your investment. So there’s no shame in picking a MagSafe battery based purely on how it looks.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack has the smallest footprint of the four models we tested, as Apple designed it to fit the iPhone 12 Mini. Here it’s attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Of the four batteries we tested, there are two options to consider, and choosing one will come down to your own personal tastes. All four offer pretty bland designs, but the size, shape, and finish of the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack and the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini make those two stand out.

If you’re all in on Apple (and are dismayed at the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone getting hidden while it charges) Apple’s very minimalist battery will probably appeal most to you, but its bright white finish will also stand out if you didn’t opt for the gold or silver iPhone 12 Pro colour options, or the brighter shades of the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini. The fabric-like finish of the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini looks quite nice, and will certainly blend in better if you opted for a blue or grey iPhone 12 Pro or the darker 12 and 12 Mini shades.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K attached to an iPhone 12 Pro.

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack was also the smallest of the four batteries we tested (Apple designed it to fit the smallest iPhone 12 model) with the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini having a slightly larger footprint but the same thickness. Both will fit all of the standard and supersized models of the iPhone 12, but while Mophie’s solution will function just fine with the iPhone 12 Mini, the battery will overhang off the bottom of the device by almost five millimetres, and it will need to be completely removed in order to use the Mini’s camera. So iPhone 12 Mini users may want to stick with Apple’s option.

Winner: Tie between the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack and the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini

The Fastest-Charging MagSafe Battery

On the scale of fastest to slowest charging solutions for your iPhone 12, topping it up wirelessly with a MagSafe battery falls somewhere near the bottom of the list, besting only those emergency hand-cranked chargers and connecting your device to the tiny solar cell you’ll find on a cheap calculator. You’re trading speed for convenience as a result of the inefficiency of wireless charging and battery makers not wanting to over-stress the life cycle of these accessories.

Using an Apple-certified MagSafe wireless charger plugged into a wall, you can recharge your iPhone 12 at speeds of up to 15W, but those speeds are cut down to just 7.5W with the Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank and the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini, and just 5W with the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack and the Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K. None of these options are speed demons, but given its price and capacity, Mophie’s solution comes out on top here.

Note: The wireless charging speeds of some of these batteries can be increased when plugged into a wall adaptor, even hitting as fast as 15W with Apple’s power bank, but that negates the portability benefits of using these types of accessories, so for this head-to-head we’re not taking that functionality into consideration.

Winner: Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini

The MagSafe Battery With the Most Capacity

The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K and the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini both have enough capacity to recharge a completely dead iPhone 12 Mini back to full capacity, while Mophie’s solution claims to do the same with an iPhone 12 as well. (Anker promises only a 95% recharge with the iPhone 12.) The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack actually offers the least capacity of all four options, despite being the most expensive option, because Apple designed it to fit the smallest of the iPhone 12 models. As a result, when paired with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, it will only recharge its battery back to a capacity of around 55%.

But there are a lot of factors at play that affect the efficiency of wireless charging (including the environment and how you use your iPhone). As a general rule you should use these portable chargers more as a way to top off your iPhone so it lasts through the day rather than as a way to completely recharge a dead phone. If that’s what you’re after, companies like Zens also sell gigantic, 10,000 mAh MagSafe batteries that will completely recharge any of the iPhone 12 models, at the cost of adding considerable size and weight to your smartphone.

Winner: Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini

The MagSafe Battery With the Best Functionality

All four of these MagSafe batteries are essentially just nondescript bricks, but there is some variation in how they work, including additional functionality. The Mophie, the Anker, and the Zens batteries all feature buttons that activate a multi-LED power metre so you know how much charge the battery has left, as well as activating or turning off the flow of power through the wireless coil. This can help save battery life when the charger isn’t actually attached to an iPhone, but it can also result in situations where you attach the battery, forget to turn it on, and then wonder why your phone suddenly dies.

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack works differently. There’s no power button because the accessory automatically starts charging an iPhone 12 (or other Qi-compatible device) as soon as it’s attached. A single LED on the battery pack indicates its charge status, but on devices running iOS 14.7, a charging status report will also appear on the iPhone lock screen when the pack is attached (indicating both the phone and battery’s charge level). The iOS battery widget in the Today View or on the home screen will also report how much charge the accessory has left.

The integration between the iPhone 12 lineup and Apple’s MagSafe battery is completely seamless, which it makes it the easiest to use of the four options we tested, but it’s also the most expensive of the lot.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack can be recharged using a Lightning cable attached to a power source, or it can wirelessly draw power from an iPhone 12 while it’s plugged in.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand is charged using a USB-C cable.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini is charged using a USB-C cable.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo, In-House Art

The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K is charged using a USB-C cable.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to recharging the battery packs themselves, with Apple doing its own thing. The Mophie, the Anker, and the Zens all feature a USB-C port on the bottom edge for recharging the power bank from an adaptor, while Apple’s battery pack charges uses a Lightning cable. It’s not ideal, but is something Apple users will already have on hand.

All of the MagSafe batteries we tested can be used to wirelessly charge other devices, too, like wireless earbud cases, and even other non-Apple smartphones. But while the Mophie, Anker, and Zens can also be used to charge other devices non-wirelessly using a USB-C cable connection, Apple’s solution can’t. It can, however, wirelessly draw power from an iPhone 12 and charge itself when the phone is connected to and charging from a Lightning cable, which is a faster solution for charging both together.

All four batteries secure themselves well to the back of an iPhone 12, but the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack definitely held on the strongest, with the Anker offering almost just as secure a magnetic connection.

The Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand actually offers wireless charging on both sides (only one side is MagSafe-compatible) so you can wirelessly charge your phone and a second device at the same time. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo) The Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank with stand actually offers wireless charging on both sides (only one side is MagSafe-compatible) so you can wirelessly charge your phone and a second device at the same time. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo)

Apple’s solution offers the best interoperability with the iPhone 12 lineup, which is not a surprise, but the Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank offers additional functionality the other three do not. It actually offers wireless charging on both sides of the battery (only one is MagSafe-compatible). This means while it’s charging your iPhone, you can also plop your wireless earbuds on it and have them charge at the same time. The caveat is that it means your iPhone will have to be placed face down for the dual charging to work, the battery’s capacity will be split between two devices, and the feature makes the Zens the thickest of the four batteries we tested as a result of the dual Qi coils.

The included stand on the Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank is a thoughtful addition, but the like the stand built into the Nintendo Switch, it's not especially useful. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo) The included stand on the Zens Magnetic Dual Powerbank is a thoughtful addition, but the like the stand built into the Nintendo Switch, it’s not especially useful. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo)

Zens has also added a kickstand to its Magnetic Dual Powerbank so you can prop your iPhone 12 up at an angle for better hands-free viewing while it’s charging. However when paired with an iPhone 12 Pro, we found the device would always end up slightly skewed because the MagSafe magnets didn’t hold quite strong enough to keep it level.

Although it was the most expensive of the four options, and we’re still looking forward to the day when Apple ditches the Lightning cable and port altogether, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack offers the best features and functionality when used with any of the iPhone 12 models. The premium pricing is also further justified when you consider the MagSafe Battery Pack can also charge the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max at up to 15W speeds when connected to a 20W+ power source, matching the functionality of Apple’s $US39 ($53) MagSafe Charger.

Winner: Apple MagSafe Battery Pack

The Best iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery

Although it’s the most expensive option we tested, with the least capacity, and a finish that doesn’t match a single colorway in the current iPhone lineup, we still feel the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is worth the premium pricing. The only users who should consider a MagSafe portable charger are those with an iPhone 12 model that actually includes the MagSafe feature, and it probably comes as no surprise that of the four batteries we tested, Apple’s offering offers the best interoperability with Apple’s smartphones.

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is worth the splurge, but the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini is also a solid choice at half the price. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski - Gizmodo) The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is worth the splurge, but the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini is also a solid choice at half the price. (Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo)

Being able to check the exact charge level of the MagSafe battery alongside the iPhone’s remaining charge within iOS is far more informative than a set of four LEDs that light up, but the fact that the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack starts charging your device automatically when it’s attached, instead of requiring you to remember to power up the battery first, is actually a big plus for its usability. Apple has also included some clever battery preservation features in the accessory, limiting charging to 90% capacity unless a user specifically asks it go past that. If you have a 20W+ power source, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack offers even more value for the price because it will charge the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models at speeds of up to 15W, so it can serve double-duty as a replacement for Apple’s MagSafe Charger. We just hope Apple offers it in other colours soon.

If you’d rather not spend another $140 on a device you’ve already spent well north of $1,000 on, that’s completely understandable. Of the three non-Apple offerings we tested, the Mophie Snap+ Juice Pack Mini is an excellent value at $70 with 7.5W charging speeds, a 5,000 mAh capacity, and an inoffensive design.

It offers the added flexibility of charging other non-wireless devices through a USB-C cable (Apple’s cannot). iPhone 12 Mini users may still want to stick with Apple as the Mophie’s larger footprint means it will actually partially cover the device’s camera while it’s magnetically attached.

It’s also important to keep in mind that these recommendations are specifically for iPhone 12 users looking for a portable charger that will stick to back of their smartphones. If you’re ok with a cord, you can get batteries that will charge an iPhone multiple times over for a lot less money than these options.