Apple added a small magnet to the new iPhone 12

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Abstract: The future of MagSafe is more than just magnetic charging.

Apple played a retro game on the iPhone 12. The Founder’s appearance reminded many people of the iPhone 4 released ten years ago. Of course, this is not a simple tribute. The more compact design controls the thickness of the body to an astonishing 7.4mm, and the new super-ceramic panel prevents it from repeating the fragile iPhone 4 glass panel. The idea is old, the design and technology are new.

Another technology inherited from the old product is the MagSafe system. Its earliest form was the magnetic charging port on the MacBook. Later, due to the need for thinner and unified interface, it was replaced by the more popular USB-C. The return of MagSafe not only brings a “one-step” wireless charging experience to the iPhone 12, but more importantly, the magnetic attraction function can extend a rich accessory ecology.

In today’s article, I will talk to you about the past, present and future of MagSafe.

Magnetic connector on MacBook

The concept of MagSafe is derived from the design of the magnetic power interface in Japanese electrical appliances, which is to avoid safety problems caused by the power cord being torn apart. In fact, there is this hidden danger in the use scene of the notebook computer. Of course, the greater significance is that the magnetic charging port can be automatically adsorbed without aligning, and the use efficiency is improved.

In 2006, Apple introduced the MagSafe design in the first-generation MacBook Pro. The five metal pins inside the interface are designed for palindrome magnetism, so it can be adsorbed from both sides without deliberate alignment. There are indicator lights on both sides of the plug, green means full, red is charging. This design later became an iconic feature on the MacBook.

Image source: Wikipedia

MagSafe changed its design in 2010, and the T-shaped outlet became an L-shaped.

Image source: Wikipedia

Upgraded to the second-generation MagSafe in 2012, which is flatter overall and adapts to a thinner body.

Image source: Wikipedia

In 2015, the redesigned MacBook (Retina display) abandoned MagSafe for the first time and was gradually replaced by USB-C. This approach was a lot of controversy at the time, some people think that Apple abandoned a good design. Of course, looking back now, USB-C is obviously more in line with future trends than MagSafe in terms of charging efficiency, transmission speed, and popularity. In contrast, the magnetic interface is slightly weaker. This is a question of trade-offs.

Image source: Wikipedia

Restart MagSafe on iPhone 12

Apple restarted MagSafe on the iPhone 12, on the one hand, it is to fill the pits left by AirPower, to achieve “one-step” wireless charging, on the other hand, for the broader future, let iPhone completely get rid of cables.

Let me talk about what it looks like at this stage. First of all, MagSafe on mobile phones is not just a magnetic interface, it represents a whole set of design concepts. The iPhone 12 integrates a charging coil and a magnet array, which can correctly position the wireless charger for efficient charging. MagSafe magnetic accessories also contain corresponding magnets, which can be easily absorbed and used “stacked”.

The official accessories currently displayed include two wireless charging docks, the MagSafe charger that charges the iPhone alone, and the MagSafe Duo that charges both the iPhone and Apple Watch (not yet on sale). And a series of MagSafe phone cases, including a leather case that can be attached to the phone case.

Apple said that more third-party accessories will be added to the MagSafe ecosystem in the future. Belkin has shown a three-in-one charging base (iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods), and a car magnetic charger.

Re-engineering accessories ecology

Did you find it? MagSafe’s car charger does not require metal sheets to be installed on the phone, which is one of the advantages of the built-in magnet. The DJI mobile phone gimbal 4 released not long ago incorporates a magnetic quick release design, which eliminates the need for complicated installation and leveling. In fact, the concept is similar to MagSafe in a sense. But its implementation is to install a metal ring holder (or install a metal clip) on the phone. If the iPhone itself has a magnet, wouldn’t it be much more convenient?

The iPhone 12 has a single-turn coil NFC and a magnetic sensor, which can recognize and respond to accessories, which makes it a lot of imagination. The official video has shown the identification leather case, which shows the time in a fixed position.

Remember the Nokia N79 and Nuts phones that can recognize the mobile phone back cover and change the theme color? Changing the phone case is much more convenient than the back cover. If you have magnetism, you don’t need to pack the phone case too tightly, just stick it on. Now it’s time for Apple to let go of restrictions on iPhone desktop beautification.

MagSafe magnetic accessories that can be superimposed, in a sense, make the iPhone “modular” possible. Adding a zoom lens and a pull ring bracket. These accessories previously needed to be implemented through the phone case or glued to the back of the phone. Now one sticker is enough, and if Apple releases the restriction, the corresponding operation will be triggered when the accessory is changed, such as through Apple Small program App Clip to achieve… It’s a bit far, but I think it’s not impossible.

In addition to the ecological possibilities of accessories, Apple’s greater “ambition” may be to completely wirelessize the iPhone. In the name of “environmental protection”, Apple has not included a charging head and earphones in the iPhone box. After the 3.5mm interface, the next step may be to remove the charging port. The future direction is non-porous and wireless.

All future imaginations are based on how Apple will open up the MagSafe ecosystem. What is basically certain is that Apple’s control of MagSafe will be very strong. If the future vision is to be wireless, it means that Apple will lose a certain amount of income from MFi accessories, which will have to be compensated by the new MagSafe certification. Don’t forget that iPhone 12 has the function of identifying accessories. At present, only the certified charging base can achieve 15W fast charging (the third party is 7.5W), and it is not difficult to control.

The MagSafe system of iPhone 12 is a small surprise for this conference, but it has unlimited possibilities from a future perspective, and it is not just a simple magnetic charging.


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