Starting with iPhone 12, Apple no longer includes power adapters in every box as it moves to reduce package waste (and make some cash on accessories). Its newest smartphones also include support for Apple’s magnetic MagSafe charging. Here’s what you need to know about charging your iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, and what you might need to purchase.
What Comes With the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13?
Every iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 comes with a USB-C-to-Lightning 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 and 13.
Plus, the newer iPhones 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 last year, excluding the power adapter reduces the size of the box. This means 70% more devices can fit on a shipping pallet, 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 and iPhone 13?
Apple has not fully transitioned the iPhone to USB-C—which typically provides faster charging speeds—or removed ports altogether, so the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 still include the typical Lightning charge port. This means you can use an existing Lightning cable and traditional USB-A power adapter to charge both phones. With the included USB-C-to-Lightning cable, though, you can also plug your iPhone into your Mac laptop.
Additionally, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are compatible with current Qi wireless charging pads. However, Apple’s main focus for charging the iPhone 12 and 13 is its built-in, fast charging MagSafe magnetic power connector.
What Is MagSafe?
For years, 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. They disappeared a few years ago as Apple transitioned the MacBook lineup to USB-C charging and data transfer, but returned this fall in the M1 Pro/M1 Max-based MacBooks as “MagSafe 3.”
Apple brings a similar technology to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 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 13?
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 or iPhone 13 is your first Apple device, you probably have one of them lying around.
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 or 13, and you’re ready to go.
If you want the 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 (you have other options, too). Apple also sells a foldable MagSafe Duo Charger that includes a dock for your Apple Watch for $129.
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.
Does MagSafe Work With a Case?
Those who want to protect their iPhone 12 or 13 with a case and make use of MagSafe magnetic charging will need a MagSafe-compatible accessory. Naturally, Apple is selling several MagSafe-compatible cases and a magnetic wallet on Apple.com. Third parties, like Belkin and Otterbox, have their own MagSafe products, too.
Does MagSafe Work With Older iPhone Models?
While the MagSafe charger was designed to work with the iPhone 12 and above, 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 and iPhone 13 lineups support that. Any other phone (even some Android phones) can simply be placed on the MagSafe connector, but it will not lock into place.