With iPhone 12, power adapters will no longer be included in every box, as Apple moves to reduce package waste (and make some cash on accessories). The lineup also includes support for Apple’s new magnetic MagSafe charging. Here’s what you need to know about charging your iPhone 12, and what you might need to purchase.
What Comes With the iPhone 12?
Every iPhone 12 comes with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable, and that’s pretty much it. So out of the box, those who don’t currently have any Apple power adapters will need a USB-C power adapter to charge the iPhone 12.
Plus, this is the first iPhone to ship without EarPods, so you’ll need to supply your own headphones to listen to music and podcasts. Apple sells its own AirPods wireless earbuds, but there are plenty of alternatives that won’t break the bank, not to mention our picks for best wireless headphones and those made with runners in mind.
As Apple explained during its iPhone 12 event, excluding the power adapter reduces the size of the box. This means 70 percent more devices can fit on a shipping palette, which means more iPhone 12 devices can ship to users. Smaller boxes also allow Apple to reduce yearly carbon emissions by 2 million metric tons, it says.
How Do I Charge the iPhone 12?
Apple has not fully transitioned the iPhone to USB-C—which typically provides faster charging speeds—or removed ports altogether, so the iPhone 12 still includes the typical Lightning charge port. This means you can use an existing Lightning cable and traditional USB-A power adapter to charge your iPhone 12. With the included Lightning-to-USB-C cable, though, you can also plug your iPhone 12 into your Mac laptop.
Additionally, the iPhone 12 is compatible with current Qi wireless charging pads. However, Apple’s main focus for charging the iPhone 12 (and likely future phones) is the new, built-in, fast charging MagSafe magnetic power connector.
What Is MagSafe?
Before Apple transitioned the MacBook lineup to USB-C charging and data transfer, Apple used the term MagSafe to describe its computers’ charging cable connectors. Their magnetized tips “snapped” into the magnetized MacBook charging ports—and snapped out if disturbed so as not to bring a Mac laptop crashing to the floor, for example.
Apple brings a similar technology to the iPhone 12 lineup in the form of a magnetized “hockey puck” disc that looks like a big Apple Watch charger and snaps to the rear of the phone. This MagSafe connector includes a USB-C cord that plugs into a power source and charges at 15W.
What’s the Fastest Way to Charge the iPhone 12?
Since iPhone 5, Apple has shipped its iPhones with a 5W USB power adapter in the box, with the exception of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, which ship with an 18W USB-C power adapter. (Apple’s iPads also ship with 10W or 12W USB or 18W or 20W USB-C power adapters, depending on the model.) So unless the iPhone 12 is your first Apple device, you probably have one of them lying around.
Since iPhone 8, meanwhile, Apple’s smartphones have supported fast charging, which allows for a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes. But for fast charging to work, you have to use an Apple USB-C-to-Lightning cable and one of these adapters: Apple 18W, 29W, 30W, 61W, 87W or 96W USB-C Power Adapter; or a third-party USB-C power adapter that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD).
With the MagSafe adapter, your iPhone will charge at 15W.
So, if you have a 5W charging adapter, a Qi wireless charging pad, and the MagSafe connector, MagSafe will deliver the fastest charging times. The question is whether that’s worth an extra $39 for the MagSafe connector. If you’re always in need of a charge, the answer might be yes. For others, an existing power adapter or charging pad might do the trick, and that $40 is better spent on a rugged case to protect your pricey new smartphone.
What Do I Need to Buy?
If you already have an iPhone or iPad with a Lightning cable, you don’t need to buy anything. Plug the power adapter you own into the wall, plug the Lightning end into your iPhone 12 and you’re ready to go.
If you want the new MagSafe charger to experience the “snap” effect that secures and charges your phone, it will cost an additional $39 for the charger and 1m USB-C integrated cable.
For a faster charging experience than Apple’s 5W power adapter, a separate 20-watt USB-C power adapter can be used for both the supplied Lightning-to-USB-C cable and the MagSafe charger. Previously $29, you can now get it for $19.
Though you will be getting a Lightning-to-USB-C cable with the iPhone 12, Apple also sells longer Lightning-to-USB-C cables; grab them in 1m or 2m lengths for $19 and $33, respectively. You can find cheaper ones on Amazon, too.
Apple is also touting a foldable MagSafe Duo Charger that includes a dock for your Apple Watch, but no release date or pricing information is available yet.
Does MagSafe Work With a Case?
Short answer: Yes. But there are caveats.
Those who want to protect their iPhone 12 with a case and make use of MagSafe magnetic charging will need a MagSafe-compatible accessory. Naturally, Apple is selling several MagSafe chargers and a magnetic wallet on Apple.com. Third parties, like Belkin and Otterbox, have their own MagSafe products, too.
If you have a non-MagSafe case without the magnet, you should be able to charge it with the MagSafe charger as it’s Qi wireless compatible, but it won’t snap on to the case.
Does MagSafe Work With Older iPhone Models?
While the MagSafe charger was designed for the new iPhone 12 models, it’s technically compatible with older phones that support wireless charging, as well as AirPods models with a wireless charging case (see officially compatible models below).
However, since these older phone models do not have the magnetic feature on the back of the device, you won’t be able to “snap” your iPhone into its ideal charging position. Only the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max support that. Any other phone (even some Android phones) can simply be placed on the MagSafe connector, but it will not lock into place.
Supported iPhone Models
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 11
- iPhone SE (2nd generation)
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
Supported AirPods Models
- AirPods Pro
- AirPods with Wireless Charging Case (2nd generation)
- Wireless Charging Case for AirPods