Applethat allows you , may be a new feature in the iPhone 12 family that provides the fastest impact. And that’s knowing that the company – and the entire wireless industry – has spent a tremendous amount of time shining through 5G.
For me, it’s almost sacrilege to write this. Finally, I’ve been highlighting potentially variable 5G games since 2015, when I first wrote about Verizon’s intention to test ultra-fast cellular technology on the ground. But the truth is that the initial deployment does not represent a huge acceleration speed, and your first experience with 5G can cause a shrug.
MagSafe, on the other hand, offers some tangible benefits, no matter where you live or are near the right camera tower. The MagSafe connection charges faster than previous iPhones, bringing it on par with the fast charge that Android phones have long used. And as silly as it sounds, there’s something cool about watching your phone snap into place, a visual confirmation that you’re right about the placement of your device.
“You can no longer guess where the sweet spot is,” said Ramon Lamas, an IDC analyst.
MagSafe has its own long-term potential, which is exciting. The magnetic pins on the back of the phone are the result of other attempts to push the investment ecosystem – from Motorola’s Moto Mods to the Essential Phone PH-1 modular camera. None of these companies moved enough phones – in particular, Essential was an outright failure – to really interest many accessory manufacturers to risk bold ideas. For the most part, we received additional batteries.
The Apple scale changes everything.
Paving the way
Apple’s huge reach – according to Strategy Analytics, it will sell 180 million units next year – means a potentially huge market for those who want to build MagSafe accessories. The feature is especially rich for those who view attachments outside the base stand for wireless charging. Think of game controllers, camera handles, selfie sticks, and wireless chargers that can change the way you hold or interact with your iPhone.
“We can’t wait to see the innovative way others will use MagSafe to create a robust and ever-expanding ecosystem,” said Denise Theoman, Apple’s vice president of hardware systems engineering, at Apple’s presentation on Tuesday.
This is not hyperbole. Apple has a way to promote and legitimize technological trends – from mobile payments to wireless charging. Where Motorola and Essential fell short, Apple could promote the concept of magnetic applications.
Apple is patenting a folio case with an additional power supply and the ability to charge AirPods, according to Apple’s Patently. Although these patents do not always provide products in the real world, they indicate where the company may go in the future.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of telephone accessories Belkin has already introduced two MagSafe accessories – a charging cradle that can iPhone 12, Apple Watch and Apple Airpods, as well as more familiar mounts for the car. Steve Maloney, Belkin’s senior vice president, said the original products were more “bread and butter” compared to future accessories on the road map.
“Some of the ideas we see on our table are pretty wild,” he teased. “It will be fun to take these ideas and put them into play.”
MagSafe feels like the spiritual successor to Google’s Google Ara project, a modular phone that uses magnets to attach smaller components to the handset, allowing you to assemble it as if you were assembling something from Legos.
Modular advertising was promoted as a potential breakthrough in smartphones. LG has tried its hand at its G5, allowing you to swap the bottom of the device for various mounts such as handles and hi-fi speakers. The trend faded as quickly as it grew when Google suspended the project and then quietly abandoned it. The G5 was such a failure that LG released a much more familiar phone the following year.
“The bigger problem is that fully modular designs are more attractive to engineers than consumers,” said Avi Gringart, a Techsponential analyst. “Smartphones are highly developed products, and people are buying the best phone they can afford that meets their needs now, not a platform that they can tinker with later.”
Moto Mods was an orderly version of the modular concept, offering a full-fledged phone with different backs that can be changed and turned off. This concept allowed Motorola’s Moto Z3 to become the first 5G phone in the Verizon network, thanks to the 5G mode that hit the back of the device. But even then, a phone without a mod felt like half a device, and the trick was the main element of the phone.
Apple has improved it by offering a full handset in the iPhone 12, but with the possibility of magnetic mounting accessories.
“MagSafe is brilliant in its simplicity,” said Greengart.
Maloney called the emergence of MagSafe a “time of transformation” for the accessories market, and he expects a wave of different fans to come from the industry.
“Things like that change the game,” he said.