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iPhone 12 MagSafe: what the magnetic gadgets are and which you should buy

iPhone 12 MagSafe
iPhone 12 MagSafe (Image credit: TechRadar)

Perhaps the biggest new feature the iPhone 12 phones bring is MagSafe, a small magnetic coil in the back of the phone that works with a range of different purchasable peripherals to improve your iPhone experience.

It's an intriguing concept, perhaps reminiscent of Motorola's Moto Mods or the current accessory pins found with Apple's iPads. The iPhone 12 range hasn't been out long enough for us to see how popular they get, but there's certainly a lot of potential.

Apple's initial applications for Magsafe are twofold: magnetic chargers that stick to the back of your phone, and clip-on cases that stay stuck to it, but as third-party manufacturers play around with the tech there's a lot more they could achieve.

MagSafe has a lot in common with 5G in that respect; both are technologies in the iPhone 12 that'll only get more impressive over time.

If you're not too sure on how the iPhone MagSafe works, we've explained everything you need to know in this guide – and we've also listed some of the top MagSafe gadgets on sale right now that you might want to consider buying.

How does MagSafe work?

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Simply put, MagSafe consists of a strong magnet under the back case of the iPhone 12 (and 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max). The ring-shaped magnet is placed to the center of the phone's rear – it sounds pretty big, from Apple's descriptions.

MagSafe gadgets are accessories you can buy separately to your iPhone, which make use of this magnetic ring so they can clip to it. You can even attach multiple MagSafe peripherals, like a case and wallet attachment at the same time, though we'd imagine not all are compatible with each other.

One use of MagSafe is for wireless charging – though since MagSafe chargers are wires that attach to the back of the phone, perhaps 'portless charging' is a better way of describing it. The iPhone 12 charges at 15W using MagSafe – that's twice the speed of the charging offered using a normal wireless charger with the device.

You can also clip on things like cases and wallets (for your credit cards), and since you can use both at the same time, we're going to assume the magnet is pretty strong.

What are the best MagSafe accessories to buy?

(Image credit: Apple)

1. OtterBox Aneu MagSafe case

A magnetic phone case

Protects phone
Fits iPhone 12 and Pro
Limited colors

If you want to utilize MagSafe to keep your smartphone protected, then you can buy some cases that do so. OtterBox is a case maker with a track record of great products, and it's got some official iPhone 12 MagSafe ones to choose from. OtterBox MagSafe cases are cheaper than Apple's own ones and come in some good-looking colors, though the selection isn't huge.

(Image credit: Apple)

2. iPhone 12 MagSafe charger

For all models of iPhone 12

Fast portless charging
Guaranteed fast speeds
Not quite wireless

The iPhone 12 MagSafe charger uses the smartphone's magnets to properly align, making sure you get the full powering speeds possible. Sure, having a magnetic charger clipped to the back of your phone effectively makes the whole 'wireless' thing redundant, but it's still less fiddly than an actual charging cable.

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPhone 12 MagSafe leather wallet

Keep your cards safe

Works with cases
Only comes in leather

If you usually keep your phone in a wallet case along with any bank cards, Apple has a MagSafe model that's similar – with a wallet that clips to the back of your phone. You can use it alongside the MagSafe cases, though when third-party alternatives roll out it's possible the wallet won't be compatible with them. There are four color versions you can opt from but they're all leather, so vegans will have to wait or find an alternative.