Sunday , February 28 2021

The Apple MagSafe Duo charger is overpriced and under-delivers

Although there’s no shipping date for it yet, Apple has sent out review samples of its upcoming MagSafe Duo charger to reviewers. It’s a travel charger that combines Apple’s new MagSafe charging puck with an Apple Watch charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable.

It costs $129, but that price doesn’t include a USB-C charging brick. You’ll need to buy that separately, and you’ll need to make sure it can supply at least 20 watts of USB PD power so that it can fast-charge your iPhone. Apple sells one for $19.

$129 is $100 more than what I paid for a wireless charger that can charge my phone, AirPods, and Apple Watch at the same time. That charger doesn’t fold up into a neat little package and can’t fast-charge an iPhone at 15 watts, but it uses USB-C instead of Lightning and has little lights to show that it’s working. The regular MagSafe charging puck costs $39.

Apple’s MagSafe Duo charger is made out of a kind of rubbery white material. It looks nice when it comes out of the box, but it’s made by press-molding the two sides together. That means there’s a huge kind of seam running around the outside of it, which I still think is a weird design trend. (See also: Surface keyboards and iPad Smart Keyboards.) The rubber “hinge” between the two sides also developed creases immediately.

Because the material is just a little bit grippy, it does an incredible job of picking up any dust or dirt you might have on a table. Within two minutes of taking it out of the box and taking photos, it was dirty. The dirt it picked up wiped off — and I trust that it will be easy to clean with just a little water or (if need be) isopropyl alcohol — but it’s still a bummer to need to do it in the first place.

Since it folds in half, you can do a little trick where you fold it backward and just charge the iPhone. That’s neat. The Apple Watch charger flips up so you can use it in nightstand mode, too.

If you buy the MagSafe Duo charger, you’ll need to teach yourself the proper way to take the iPhone off the pad so it doesn’t lift up with the phone. You have to press down a little on the pad because the magnets are stronger than the force of gravity on the mass of this dock.

It is a well-made object, to be sure. There are magnets that hold it together when it’s folded in either direction. The hinge on the Watch charger is firm and smooth. The heft of the whole object helps make it feel nicer, and it is somewhat satisfying to snap closed. It also helps ensure the whole kit and caboodle doesn’t vibrate off the table when you get a phone call. I think Apple did a good job executing this design, but it’s probably not the design I would have gone with. I also think it’s not worth $129.

There are many good ideas built into MagSafe. I continue to think that having a wireless charger that uses magnets to automatically align the coils for maximum efficiency is a good idea. And I think the regular MagSafe charging puck is a neat idea for people who want to charge their iPhones while holding them.

I hope Apple and other manufacturers create lots of MagSafe charging accessories that improve on the experience of needing multiple cables and AC adapters to plug in all of our stuff. I hope that happens because I would hate to see anybody feel like they ought to buy the MagSafe Duo charger.

Photography by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

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