Allion Labs

What is MagSafe?

MagSafe is a magnetic wireless power transfer standard that was first introduced in 2006 for laptops in the Mac line from Apple. On October 13th, 2020, Apple released a new version of MagSafe alongside the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. The latest version of MagSafe can deliver up to 15W of power and is also compatible with Qi wireless charging standards. If we are to discuss MagSafe, it should be divided into two parts: MagSafe for Mac and MagSafe for iPhone.

MagSafe for Mac

MagSafe’s first appearance was at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 10th, 2006. The power cable is fixed on by magnetic force, and in the case that someone accidentally trips over the cable, it can be safely removed from the power interface. This prevents the entire computer from being pulled off the work surface and getting damaged, greatly improving the safety of the user and the computer.

MagSafe 1

MagSafe 1 (shown in the picture below) was on the market between 2006 and 2009. The interface pin was designed to be rectangular so it could be connected to the Mabook from the front or back, also having indicator lights on both sides. The indicator shows orange when charging, and shows green when fully charged.

Figure 1: MagSafe 1 from 2006-2009

The L-shaped MagSafe 1 (shown in the picture below) was on the market between 2010 and 2012. The interface pin remained the same, but the outer design had been modified from a T-shaped design to an L-shaped design.

Figure 2: MagSafe 1 from 2010-2012

MagSafe 1 Power:

Voltage Current Power
14.5V 3.1A 45W
16.5V 3.65A 60W
18.5V 4.6A 85W

MagSafe 2

MagSafe 2 (on the market between 2012 and 2014) was designed for the new thinner and lighter laptop, re-adopting the T-shaped design and also changing the outer casing of the connector from plastic to aluminum, as shown below:

Figure 3: MagSafe 2 from 2012-2014

MagSafe 2 Power:

Voltage Current Power
14.85V 3.05A 45W
16.5V 3.65A 60W
20V 4.25A 85W
Since 2015, Macbooks supported USB Type-C, so Apple canceled MagSafe 2 to fully introduce Type-C charging.

MagSafe 3

On October 18th, 2021, Apple released a new Macbook Pro that can utilize PD 3.1, which means it can withstand a charging power of over 100W. The new M1 Pro and M1 Max Macbook Pros can withstand a charging power of 140W. In the past, MagSafe 1 and 2 cables were attached to the power adapter, while MagSafe 3 benefited from USB Type-C, which meant the cable and the power adapter can be separated. This allows consumers to be able to use a variety of PD USB Type-C power adapters to charge their Macbooks.
Figure 4: MagSafe 3 from 2021

MagSafe for iPhone

In 2017, Apple introduced Qi wireless charging to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. After 2017, the subsequent iPhones all implemented this function, but the maximum power limit was only 7.5W. Also, with Qi wireless charging, you cannot move your phone around without interrupting the charging process. To solve this problem, Apple used the same magnetic functionality of the previous MagSafe cables for the wireless charger. In 2020, it accompanied the launch of the iPhone 12, introducing a new generation of the MagSafe charger specially designed for iPhone, as shown in the image below:

Figure 5: MagSafe for iPhone

All iPhone models after the iPhone 12 have utilized MagSafe technology. Apple uses electromagnetic induction to change the magnetic field within the charger, driving the flow of electrons to generate a rechargeable current. A magnet array is added around the charging coil inside the mobile phone, ensuring the MagSafe charger is accurately fixed in the correct position and not easily displaced. This also increases the maximum charging power from 7.5W to 15W. Apple also added a Nanocrystalline panel and two sensors to increase the sensitivity of the induced magnetic field, improving the design of the E-shield, which makes charging your phone even safer (shown in the picture below).

Figure 6: MagSafe for iPhone Design

Differences between Qi wireless charging and MagSafe:

Qi MagSafe
Maximum Charging Power 7.5W 15W
Magnetic No Yes
Note The current 1.3 version of Qi wireless charging already supports 15W charging, but the iPhone does not support the latest version.

What Do “Made for MagSafe (MFM)” and “MagSafe Compatible” Mean?

MagSafe, a patented technology made by Apple, can effectively solve the problem of wires tangling together during usage. It’s currently widely adopted in protective cases, chargers, mobile power supplies, and card holders. The MFM certification is similar to Apple’s previous Made for iPhone (MFi) certification. Third-party accessory manufacturers needed to pass Apple’s strict review to obtain their certification.

Figure 7: Made for MagSafe Certification

The MFM-certified charging devices are able to provide the iPhone with a 15W charging power and will trigger a special animation when charging.

Figure 8: MagSafe charger for iPhone and Apple Watch

MagSafe Compatible means that the charger has the same function as MagSafe but hasn’t passed the MFM certification, so it can only charge the iPhone with a maximum of 7.5W. However, assuming the MagSafe Compatible charger can provide up to 15W, then it still can provide other Android devices with a charging power of 15W. Of course, this is also built on the premise that your Android device supports Qi 15W charging.
MagSafe Wireless Charger VS MagSafe Compatible Wireless Charger

Because MagSafe for Mac has fewer products and is monopolized by Apple, Allion has mostly conducted comparative experiments on MagSafe and MagSafe Compatible chargers for mobile phones on the market. Below, we show three MagSafe charger experiments that compare the charging performance of different MagSafe chargers, and we recorded the charging time from 0% to 100% with different MagSafe protective cases.

Model Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Version: iOS 15.6.1

Battery Capacity: 2815mAh

MagSafe Charger Apple MagSafe Charger

FW Version:

MagSafe Compatible Charger Brand “B”

FW Version: None

Brand “White”

FW Version: None

Power Adapter (All three chargers are connected to this adapter) Apple Type-C Charger (20W)
MagSafe Protective Case (MFM) Apple Silicon Protective Case
Brand “O” Silicon Protective Case
Charger Charging Time (Minutes)
With No Case Apple Brand “O”
Apple 216 166 173
Brand “B” 252 176 180
Brand “White” 222 277 333

Looking at the charging time, Apple’s MagSafe charger had a significantly shorter time than the Brand “B” MagSafe Compatible charger, but it is almost the same as Brand “White”. As you can see, the Brand “B” charger is not able to fast charge the phone at 15W without a case, dropping down to 7.5W.

Because the MagSafe wireless charger can also charge other brands of phones, Allion also used an Android phone (Samsung S9) that supports wireless charging and has a similar battery capacity to the iPhone 12 Pro for the experiment. We used the same Apple Type-C Power Adapter with the MagSafe Charger to measure the charging times.

Model Samsung Galaxy S9

Version: Android 10

Battery Capacity: 3000mAh

MagSafe Charger Apple MagSafe Charger

FW Version:

MagSafe Compatible Charger Brand “B”

FW Version: None

Brand “White”

FW Version: None

Power Adapter (All three chargers are connected to this adapter) Apple Type-C Charger (20W)
MagSafe Protective Case (MFM) Apple Silicon Protective Case
Brand “O” Silicon Protective Case
Charger Charging Time (Minutes)
With No Case Apple Brand “O”
Apple 220 200 195
Brand “B” 323 170 169
Brand “White” 191 318 225
From the data, we can see that the charging time of the Samsung S9 without a case is around 220 minutes, but the charging time with the Brand “B” MagSafe Compatible charger reaches 323 minutes. Therefore, we know that Apple’s MagSafe charger can provide stable output, no matter which brand. Brand “B” provides an extremely slow charge, while Brand “White” provides an extremely fast charge.
In these two sets of experiments, we found that both Apple and Brand “B” chargers can charge faster than when the phone has no case. We learned that the temperature during charging affects the charging speed. This is because wireless charging utilizes electromagnetic induction technology. When the charging speed of a mobile phone is fast, the temperature will also be higher. A well-designed wireless charger will have a mechanism to limit the charging speed, ensuring the mobile phone does not overheat. When a mobile phone is equipped with a protective case, there’s an extra medium between the wireless charger and the phone, so the heat sensor on the charger does not directly come in contact with the phone. This means the charger will not activate the protection mechanism mentioned before, and the charging speed will remain at its highest. The Brand “White” charger does not have a safety guarantee in its design, resulting in fast charges, slow charges, and not being able to charge stably due to a protective case being equipped on the mobile phone.

Testing and Services for MagSafe and MagSafe Compatible Chargers

Providing a good wireless charging experience for mobile phones has become a must for all manufacturers because mobile phones are now an indispensable part of everyday life. Also, eliminating holes that allow dust and water inside devices has now become a main direction for most mobile phone manufacturers, because they are aiming to make mobile phones more durable. For MagSafe and MagSafe Compatible chargers, Allion can run the following tests:
  • Compatibility Test
  • Functionality Test
  • Durability Test (Stability Test)
  • User Experience Test
  • Competitive Analysis and Consulting

Take the Next Step

In addition to these tests, Allion can also customize tests according to our client’s products. We can participate in the early stages of product design and assist our clients to produce high-quality products. Allion also has a variety of testing equipment such as mobile phones, USB hubs, power delivery adapters, and more. Allion can provide you with the best quality control for your products.
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