It’s no secret that every company in the smartphone industry uses ideas first conceived by their rivals. We have seen countless examples of Apple taking inspiration from Android for recent iOS updates, just like Google has followed Apple’s advantage in some key concepts. Often these moves result in refined or evolved versions of the original implementation; other times, it falls flat. Still, when comparing the pixel 7 or the Galaxy S22 For the iPhone, there’s one feature that Apple’s competition seems to have completely ignored: MagSafe.
If you haven’t used a recent iPhone, the term MagSafe might bring back memories of Apple’s laptop chargers, not its smartphones. Introduced with the iPhone 12, this iteration of MagSafe is a line of magnetic accessories, including wallets, PopSockets, mounts, car mounts, and more. It also supports wireless charging, either via wired pucks or removable battery packs. In essence, it’s yet another way for Apple, and third-party manufacturers, to sell optional accessories to iPhone users. That said, I think that’s a pretty pessimistic view of what is, in fact, a fantastic tool when used correctly.
Ever since I bought an iPhone 14 Pro Max last month, and tried MagSafe for the first time, I’ve fallen in love with what I think is the best version of wireless charging I’ve ever used. At 15W, it’s almost as fast as non-specialized wireless chargers get. The wired puck lets you continue to use your phone while it’s plugged in, similar to a standard cable, but also leaves the Lightning port open for accessories like a wired headphone dongle. Meanwhile, the magnet is strong and secure, ensuring perfect alignment every time you position it.
And that’s not to mention the optional accessories available here. Wallet cases aren’t my cup of tea, but I think it’s great that anyone who wants to use one you can remove it at will. If anything, it makes me more likely to go out and grab one.
My experience with MagSafe has been so positive, in fact, that I’m surprised it hasn’t been ripped off by every Android manufacturer in the years since its debut. That’s not to say that no company has ever worked with the general concept, of course. LG used a terrible pogo pin adapter on your dual display accessories for some of its latest phones before leaving the market entirely. Realme’s MagDart puck has some impressive speeds, beating Apple while offering a similar design, with companies like oppo Y Nubian following his example. And there was the Galaxy Z Fold 2, though that was more coincidence than anything else.
Third Party Cases for Android Phonesincluding mophie, Top, Momentand others have also brought the MagSafe experience to Galaxy and Pixel devices, either through proprietary means or simply by adding the necessary magnets for MagSafe to work. After all, any Qi-compatible phone can be charged with these accessories; it’s just a matter of keeping the disk in place.
Not everyone wants to resort to a case, of course. While I don’t expect the Samsungs or Googles of the world to add support for Apple’s own line of magnetic accessories, I’m surprised they haven’t tried implementing their own variation on the concept. I don’t think MagSafe is the absolute end of magnetic accessories; in fact, I think it’s easy to imagine Android phones building an even better version of this tool than iOS users have seen.
I can’t overstate how strong these magnets are.
In a world where both Samsung and Google are trying to build their respective ecosystems, a world of removable accessories could make all the difference. A simple magnetic charging dock for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro could make wireless power sharing a reality for both watches, somewhat blocked by the curvature of its bands. A Platform independent version in Continuity Camera could add high-quality webcams to any laptop, regardless of its operating system, with a simple magnetic mount. The possibilities are truly endless here, effectively transforming our smartphones into modular pieces in a larger world of technology.
Or, perhaps, a MagSafe-like feature in the Galaxy S23 would lead to competing PopSockets and wallet accessories, as we’ve seen with Apple’s version. Even if that’s the less exciting conclusion than my personal (albeit confused) vision of the future, I still think it’s worth it.
I’m sure to some, MagSafe is a silly trick that Android makers have ignored for a reason. But I think it’s a useful tool, a clever evolution of wireless charging that really makes me want to use it. And if the concept were ever to be taken up by the Android companies in earnest, either as a shared standard or just as a company-by-company feature, I think we could take it to the next level.