The best MagSafe battery packs in 2023, tried and tested | CNN Underscored

The best MagSafe battery packs in 2023, tried and tested | CNN Underscored

Apple’s MagSafe system makes wireless charging a little easier and more consistent by using magnets to align your iPhone’s charging coils with those in the charging pad. Not only has the tech made it easier to make sure you actually get a charge when you drop your phone onto the wireless charger you keep on your bedside table but it’s opened the door for wireless charging on the go with battery banks that can snap onto the back of your iPhone.

Since not all MagSafe-compatible (technically, many of the packs we tested are MagSafe-compatible rather than “MagSafe” specifically, since the term refers to tech licensed from Apple) battery banks are created equal, we’ve thoroughly tested more than a dozen different models from several brands to find the best wireless charger for your iPhone, no matter how big or complex your charging needs.

Baseus 6,000mAh Magnetic Mini

The best MagSafe-compatible battery pack overall

The affordable Baseus MagSafe-compatible battery pack was one of the fastest charging and recharging models we tested, making it a great buy for anyone looking for a magnetic battery bank for their iPhone.

Anker 633 Magnetic Battery Pack

The most versatile MagSafe-compatible battery pack

Anker makes great charging gear, and the 633 MagGo battery pack is a fast charging wireless model that also USB-C and USB-A ports for extra convenience, along with a kickstand.

OtterBox Multi-Mount Power Bank With MagSafe

A great MagSafe-compatible battery pack for commuters

A modular system with a battery pack that fits a desk stand and car vent mount, the OtterBox Multi-Mount is a great solution for commuters who want a slick single package.

Baseus Mini

In our testing, the Baseus 6,000mAh Magnetic Mini was among the faster chargers, getting our iPhone 12 up to 48% charge in an hour. It was also one of the fastest to recharge, drawing just under 19W, meaning you can refill its 23.1-watt-hour battery in a little over an hour. With this sort of performance, plus a price tag that makes it among the cheapest power banks we tested, the Baseus Magnetic Mini is easy to recommend.

Not all the chargers tested automatically power on when snapped onto the back of an iPhone, but this was among those that do, and we found this more convenient than having to toggle on the power. Plus, you can use the USB-C charging port on the bottom to supply power as well; it can output up to 20W if you want to charge your iPhone in a hurry (or if you want to charge a non-MagSafe-compatible device).

Baseus packs all that into a fairly lightweight and compact container. At just 147 grams, it offered a good amount of power for a small charger. It was also one of the grippier battery banks, resisting rotation on the back of our iPhone, thanks to a rubber coating on the contact surface and strong magnets that were moderately hard to shake loose.

The Baseus 6,000mAh Magnetic Mini is a great value for a solid charger, but it’s also just a great MagSafe battery pack. And if you need even more power and don’t mind a little more bulk, Baseus offers a 10,000mAh model and a 20,000mAh model, though the largest model can obstruct visibility for a smaller iPhone’s ultrawide camera.

Anker 633

Based on Anker’s MagGo magnetic charging tech, which has worked just fine with MagSafe devices in our testing, the Anker 633 Magnetic Battery Pack has a lot to offer. Capacity? Check! It’s packing a 38.5Wh battery into a unit that’s just 218 grams, making it the second most energy dense unit we tested in terms of watt-hours per pound. Charging speed? Check! It was one of the fastest in our testing, getting the iPhone charged up to 52% in one hour and pulling over 19W to recharge its own battery in a hair over two hours.

While it costs more than our overall recommendation, the Anker 633 offers a little more convenience, with both USB-A and USB-C ports, giving you more options for how you use it for charging, including the option to charge more than one device at a time. It also has a handy kickstand on the back so you can charge and prop up your phone at the same time. The USB-C port on the bank is smartly placed too, so you can charge it and your phone both while using the stand.

The MagGo system gave us a secure attachment to our phone, but it wasn’t as good as the Baseus at resisting rotation, so it didn’t stay quite centered on our phone. On the upside, that makes it easy to spin into landscape if you’re using your phone on a desk or table while charging using the Anker’s kickstand. And the magnet is quite strong, so the phone doesn’t easily fall off without considerable jostling.

OtterBox-modular-stand MagSafe

OtterBox’s Multi-Mount Power Bank with MagSafe is the most expensive option we tested, though it is actually an official MFi-approved MagSafe device and offers a lot more than the also expensive Apple-branded charger. It’s also the only unit we tested that included its own power brick for recharging, doubtless adding to the cost.

But what’s really different about the Multi-Mount is that it is a modular system — you get a portable battery pack that nests in a matching car vent mount and a substantial desk stand, both included so for one price you get three magnetic charging stations — one for your desk, one for your car, and one for your pocket. It’s an interesting solution for commuters who want a seamless, single solution.

This would seem like just a neat gimmick if the battery bank weren’t also a solid one. It has a 25.9Wh capacity while weighing just under 200 grams, so it provides a lot of power on the go. It has one of the strongest-feeling magnetic connections to the iPhone of the models we tested, which is especially important if it’s going to serve as a car mount. And it had the fastest recharging speed, drawing 19.8W, which is enough to refill it in about 80 minutes. We do wish it automatically turned on when it’s attached to the phone, but that’s about the only real downside.

We tested the attachment strength of each MagSafe and MagSafe-compatible battery pack with some real world shaking and twisting.

There are two types of MagSafe. If you’re a MacBook user, you’ve probably used the magnetic cable attachment system of that name on Apple’s laptops. (Apple Watch chargers also charge wirelessly but use a different, incompatible system.) But the one we care about here is a variant of the familiar Qi wireless charging specification for mobile devices, adding a magnetic attachment system that allows for added security and portability, plus some extra handshaking that allows fast charging.

Qi charging relies on the alignment of a coil inside the charger and a coil inside the phone, and the ability to charge depends on that alignment. MagSafe is meant to effectively guarantee that alignment by using a ring of magnets around the charging coil in both the iPhone and the charger. This not only snaps the phone and charger into alignment but also holds them together.

True “Made for MagSafe” accessories will follow Apple’s MFi guidelines, have more direct communication with the iPhone and can enable 15W wireless charging. That certification and licensing comes at a cost for accessories in a competitive market, so it may be little surprise to find most accessories are simply compatible with MagSafe and limited to charging at 7.5W or 10W. That said, for the MagSafe battery banks we tested, this has made little meaningful difference in actual charging time as no official MagSafe device had a clear lead in charging speed over the various compatible schemes. (Phone batteries are pretty small, which mitigates the difference.)

It’s also worth noting that despite MagSafe’s potential increase in efficiency over Qi wireless charging, thanks to improved alignment, wireless charging is still quite inefficient versus wired charging. That’s made no clearer than from the fact that to get 15W of charging with a MagSafe charger, you need to have it powered by a 20W wall charger. That extra 5W is going somewhere, but it’s not into your phone — you’ll feel it as residual heat.

We timed each MagSafe and MagSafe-compatible battery pack using the same iPhone to compare charging speeds.

We ran each of the battery packs through a series of tests that included a one-hour charging test, measuring the power added to an iPhone 12 with a dead battery at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and one hour. We then used a power meter to measure the recharging speeds of each battery bank, and we compared this to the rated capacity of the battery to determine roughly how long each would take to recharge.

We also measured the weight of each unit, checked for any interference with the phone’s cameras and assessed the hold of the magnets to the iPhone with a variety of twisting and shaking tests.

Other MagSafe and MagSafe-compatible battery packs we tested

The Anker 622 battery bank is thinner and lighter than the newer Anker 633, but doesn’t keep up. Its charging speed was slower and it has about half the capacity. It was fairly light, but wasn’t a standout for energy density. It has a neatly designed kickstand that folds up onto the back for a very slim package, but the 633’s version is more usable.

If you want sheer capacity, the Basesus 20,000mAh battery bank packs the most energy, but it’s also by far the heaviest charger we tested. It also was the only model that got in the way of the ultrawide camera. Its charging speed wasn’t notably faster than its competitors, and its magnetic hold wasn’t very strong either. If you really are worried about getting plenty of charge to your phone, you should opt for a wired portable charger so more of the battery’s energy reaches your phone.

ESR’s HaloLock Wallet is a cool and affordable power bank, with a built-in credit card wallet that doubles as a fold-out stand for your iPhone while it’s charging. It’s not the fastest charger (it sat around the middle of the pack) and it’s a little heavy for its modest energy capacity, but that’s what you get when you want more features added on.

ESR HaloLock Power Bank With Stand

The ESR HaloLock Stand drops the wallet for a simpler kickstand but packs plenty of power for its size, and it was actually the fastest charger in our testing. It was a little slow recharging itself, though. Like the Anker 633, it has a kickstand on the back and is a bit sturdier. If you know you don’t need the extra ports of the Anker 633 and want something with an integrated stand, the ESR is strongly worth considering.

The OtterBox Wireless Power Bank gets one major commendation: it was the lightest power bank we tested, even beating Apple’s MagSafe pack. But it felt kind of cheap, had a weak magnetic connection that was all too easy to budge loose, and at 5,000mAh, doesn’t have a lot of capacity — too many shortcomings for one of the more expensive options.

Belkin’s BoostCharge was all-around average in our testing. Its charging speeds were in the middle of the pack, and its 18Wh capacity was on the lower side of our energy density measurements. Plus, its magnets were pretty weak. We recommend you go with one of our top recommendations instead.

Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack has some smarts that its competitors don’t, letting your iPhone know it’s a true MagSafe device and monitoring remaining charge on your iPhone’s display. But those are small convenience perks for what is otherwise one of the less impressive options. With 11.13Wh of capacity, this was the smallest capacity battery pack we tested, gave us some of the slowest charging speeds and wasn’t the lightest. It was the slimmest, though, and had a strong magnetic attachment, so if you want to charge your iPhone in your pocket, it won’t protrude as much as the others. It also recharges quickly. This may make it a good option as a pack to have in a pinch, but you’ll pay a lot for the privilege.

Mophie’s Snap+ Juice Pack Mini Wallet is an affordable option but was the slowest charger in our testing, only filling the iPhone to 33% after an hour. This may be in part due to its particularly weak magnets, which didn’t do as good a job as the other packs at lining up the charging coils. It has a small card holder on the back, but if you want that capability, we suggest the ESR HaloLock.

Mophie Snap+ Powerstation Stand

Mophie’s Snap+ Powerstation is an interesting option, but probably not the most practical one. It charges the iPhone quickly, beating most of the competition, and it can be recharged in just about 2 hours. Its 37Wh of capacity is among the largest we tested, but comes with weight. At 263 grams, this was the second-heaviest battery bank in our group. The unit is awkwardly tall, sticking out below the bottom of an iPhone 12 (it is meant for the 14 Pro Max, so you’ll probably want this only if you have a larger phone). It has a rear kickstand and a tripod mount, but its weak magnets make it less useful (and perhaps risky) to use in that capacity.

Scosche’s GoBat MS 5,000mAh is a simple option offering modest capacity and charging speeds in a fairly lightweight unit. Its magnets aren’t very strong, though, and it’s fairly slow to recharge itself. In this price range, the Baseus 6,000mAh Magnetic Mini is a better bet.

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