Why you can trust us
We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we believe in. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

How to use MagSafe, the best iPhone feature you haven't tried

Learn how to leverage your iPhone's hidden but super-useful magnet system.

Quick Overview
See 1 more

How awesome are magnets? They can stick kids' artwork to the fridge. They can levitate entire trains. And let's not forget Magneto, arguably the coolest X-Men villain ever. OK, but what have magnets done for you lately? If you own an iPhone, they can do quite a lot — more than you might know, in fact. Modern iPhones incorporate something called MagSafe, and you don't need any special skills to crack it. You just need this guide.

What is MagSafe?

Quick history lesson: MagSafe didn't originate on iPhones but rather on Apple MacBooks as a specialized plug. While most laptops rely on a charging cord that slots into a power port, the MagSafe cord ended in a magnetic connector. It didn't need to be plugged into the machine; it simply snapped onto the side. Magnetically.

The idea there was that if someone accidentally yanked or tripped over the cord, it would pop loose rather than sending the expensive MacBook flying. Magnet safety. MagSafe. Pretty ingenious.

The iPhone implementation of this is quite different, as it's not really a safety feature (though certain accessories can make for a safer driving experience — more on that below). Rather, a magnetic ring embedded on the backside of the phone allows you to snap on various accessories: wallets, backup batteries, car mounts and more.

The ExtreLife MagSafe wallet and ESR powerbank wallet combo
MagSafe allows you to use accessories like this wallet with AirTag holder and powerbank/wallet/stand combo. (Photos: ExtreLife and ESR)

Which iPhones have MagSafe?

Apple built MagSafe into the following iPhone models:

  • iPhone 12

  • iPhone 12 Mini

  • iPhone 12 Pro

  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

  • iPhone 13

  • iPhone 13 Mini

  • iPhone 13 Pro

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

  • iPhone 14

  • iPhone 14 Plus

  • iPhone 14 Pro Max

How is MagSafe different from Qi wireless charging?

Great question, especially if you have an older model like the iPhone XR or iPhone 11. These phones do support wireless charging like their more modern brethren, but the difference is that there aren't any magnets in the mix. You have to manually (and perfectly) align the phone on a charging pad. With the iPhone 12 and later, MagSafe snaps it into just the right spot. And, of course, allows for other accessories.

How do you use MagSafe?

This is fairly straightforward: Any MagSafe accessory will magically, magnetically stick to the back of your iPhone, aligning in exactly the right spot. However, if that phone is in a case (and it should be), now there's an added wrinkle. Some cases include an embedded MagSafe ring that effectively extends the iPhone's magnetism (a pass-through of sorts), allowing accessories to snap on like normal. This is good.

If your case isn't MagSafe-compatible, however, your accessories might not work. At a minimum, the magnet power will be reduced (depending on the thickness of the case), an important consideration if you're sticking, say, a wallet back there. You don't want it falling off.

The ESR HaloLock MagSafe, shown alongside an iPhone case and installed on one.
If your current iPhone case doesn't have a MagSafe ring embedded in it, you can add something like the ESR HaloLock to give it that magnetic magic. (Photo: ESR)

Bottom line: Use a MagSafe-compatible case, if possible. Failing that, you can add something like the ESR HaloLock ($16) to the back of your existing case; it's basically a stick-on MagSafe ring, a sort of magnet conversion kit. And ESR supplies a handy printed placement guide so you're sure to position it exactly right.

What are some of the best MagSafe accessories?

Think of a backpack and all the things you can put into one. MagSafe effectively allows for different kinds of accessories to, well, backpack on your phone. Here are some of the options available:

  • Power banks

  • Desk stands

  • Car mounts

  • Grip/kickstand rings

  • Wallets

  • LED ring lights

  • Tripods/tripod mounts

Sometimes there's feature overlap between these items, like a power bank that includes a kickstand or a car mount that's also a charger.

The most popular MagSafe accessories seem to be power banks and wallets, as those offer the most day-to-day benefit. But it's not unthinkable to have more than one of these extras in your car, purse, pocket or the like, swapping them out as needed.

For example, I might snap a MagSafe wallet onto my phone whenever I leave my house, but opt for a power bank when traveling (and relegate the wallet to my pocket). If I'm headed out somewhere to shoot TikTok videos, the LED ring light would ride piggyback.

Below I've rounded up a sampling of some of the best MagSafe accessories you can get right now:

Practically a MagSafe hall-of-famer, the top-rated Anker 622 is a slim, 5,000-mAh power bank available in five colors. If you want to use your phone hands-free, a built-in kickstand folds out from the rear. This updated version moves the USB-C charging port to the side (it previously lived on the bottom), the better to allow simultaneously recharging while in use.
$50 at Amazon
Why choose Apple's MagSafe wallet when there are countless third-party alternatives priced lower? Simple: Find My. There's a kind of "AirTag lite" technology baked into the wallet, meaning when it gets removed from your iPhone, its last known location is noted in your Find My app. So although there's no active tracking like with an AirTag, you can at least determine where you left the wallet. See all six hues.
$77 at Amazon
If you like the idea of MagSafe wallet, you might like this even better: ExtreLife's card-holder includes a spot for an AirTag (not included), meaning if the wallet ever goes missing, you'll have an easier time tracking it down. Meanwhile, stretchy fabric allows you to carry up to seven cards, not just two or three like in some wallets.
$27 at Amazon
Ready for your close-up? This battery-powered ring light snaps onto your iPhone to cast light in front or back. It offers four brightness levels and even has a built-in mirror. Alas, it doesn't draw power from the phone itself; you'll have to keep its battery charged via USB-C.
$50 at Amazon
Stick-on ring grips have been around forever, but they're permanent-ish additions and they tend to get in the way of wireless charging. This one, available in six colors, pops on and off with ease (because magnets) and allows for wireless charging without needing to be removed. The fold-out center ring gives you a more secure grip on your phone and doubles as a stand for hands-free viewing.
$15 at Amazon
If you're using your phone for navigation and whatnot, it should be mounted securely, as close to eye level as possible. This mount clips into just about any air vent, but includes a small arm that raises the phone above the vent so it doesn't get blasted with cold or, worse, hot air. You can also pivot the arm so the screen is a bit closer to your eyeline. Convenience, safety, 20 bucks...what's not to like?
$16 at Amazon

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)