Qi2 is here: Is the new iPhone wireless charging better than MagSafe?

Macworld

Not having to find the right cable or carry one around with you makes wireless charging a convenient way of charging your mobile devices—iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods and many third-party gadgets.

There are multiple wireless charging standards and technologies. Here we will explain the major ones—Qi, MagSafe and the latest Qi2. Knowing which is which will help you to make your charging life more efficient.

Qi2, supported by the iPhone 15 family at launch and the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 as of iOS 17.2, promises to speed up wireless charging and make chargers cheaper as well as more efficient. It is very like MagSafe, which is unsurprising as Apple allowed the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) to use MagSafe as the basis of Qi2.

In short, Qi2 should bring the magnetic benefits of MagSafe to Android, but also make third-party iPhone chargers faster and potentially cheaper. Manufacturers are more likely to create new products when the market is larger (iPhone and Android) and costs should come down, too.

We have now tested Qi2 chargers vs chargers certified as MagSafe by Apple, and can confirm that 15W Qi2 charges supporting devices at an equivalent speed to 15W MagSafe, and much faster than merely MagSafe-compatible 7.5W chargers. More details of our wireless charging speed tests below.

Belkin announced two Qi2 charging devices in September 2023, with launch dates expected in early 2024.

Belkin

How does wireless charging work?

Wireless charging uses electromagnetic induction to power your devices. The charging pad and your phone both include copper wire coils. Plug the pad into a power source and the charger’s coil generates a magnetic field. When you place your phone onto the charging pad, the phone’s coil converts that magnetic field into an electric current, thus charging the phone.

First, let’s look at the original Qi, which all iPhones post iPhone 8 support.

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What is Qi wireless charging?

Qi is a Chinese word that means “energy flow”. Pronounced “chee”, Qi is the basic and most popular wireless charging standard, launched in 2008 but not seen on an iPhone until 2017’s iPhone 8.

Apple continues to support the Qi wireless charging standard with its most recent iPhones—and the iPhone 13/14/15 models are compatible with Qi2, more on which later.

This means that iPhones from the iPhone 8 onwards can be placed on a Qi-compatible charger to start charging without a cable. (Of course, the Qi charging pad or stand itself has to be connected via a cable to a power charger.)

While wireless charging means less wear and tear to your devices, it is not as efficient as charging via a cable (wired charging) as some of the energy is lost between the charging pad and the device placed on it.

Qi users will know that you have to ensure your device is placed in exactly the right alignment for fast wireless charging to take place.

Place the iPhone on the pad incorrectly and you end up either charging much more slowly or not at all.

Many of us have dropped a phone on a Qi charger only to find out later that it wasn’t in the right place and so annoyingly never started charging—a problem largely solved by Apple’s MagSafe.

While Qi’s maximum wireless charge is 15W, Apple’s iPhone supports only 7.5W via Qi.

Which iPhones use Qi?

Qi charging is built into the iPhone 8, X, XR, XS, SE, 11, 12, 13, and 14 families. The iPhone 15 works with Qi but is rated as Qi2; see later.

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What is MagSafe wireless charging?

Apple’s magnetic MagSafe iPhones contain a ring of magnets built around its Qi charging coil. As a result, you can magnetically clamp charging accessories onto the iPhone. In fact, you can magnetically attach non-charging accessories, such as wallets and mounts, too.

MagSafe—from 2020’s iPhone 12 on—makes missing the charging pad’s coils much less likely with its ring of magnets quickly finding the charging alignment sweet spot—on a compatible charger—so you will always connect and less energy is wasted.

Magnetic Power Profile (MPP) technology uses magnets to perfectly align the coils of the wireless charging transmitter and receiver before transferring power.

iPhones can work with wireless chargers that are either MagSafe certified by Apple (“made for MagSafe”) or are compatible with MagSafe—plus less sophisticated Qi chargers.

Certified MagSafe chargers can supply 15W to the iPhone, while merely MagSafe compatible chargers are limited to 7.5W, but compatible chargers are usually cheaper.

(Note that the iPhone 12 mini only charges at 12W with MagSafe.)

We have tested the best MagSafe chargers for iPhones and the best MagSafe power banks for iPhones. This reviews roundup now also includes Qi2 chargers as they arrive to market.

Some thicker cases get in the way of MagSafe wireless charging so make sure your iPhone’s case is MagSafe compatible—see our roundup of the best iPhone 15 Cases.

Wireless charging is great, but it’s not as fast as wired charging. For truly fast iPhone charging, use a cable connected to at least a 20W USB-C charger. For the iPhone 15, that means a USB-C to USB-C cable; for older iPhones you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning cable. A USB-A to Lightning cable won’t offer iPhone fast charging. Click here for more iPhone fast-charging tips.

Somewhat confusingly, MagSafe is also the name for Apple’s wired-charging standard for its MacBooks—connecting the charging cable to the MacBook’s MagSafe port via magnets, meaning it is not only easy to connect but, if accidentally disconnected, it pops out rather than dragging your laptop to the floor. This version of MagSafe is magnetic and safe and has a charging connection for MacBooks but is not wireless. We explain the difference between MagSafe on Mac and MagSafe on iPhones in our Complete guide to Apple MagSafe: What is MagSafe?

Which iPhones use MagSafe?

MagSafe wireless charging is built into the iPhone 12, 13, 14, and 15 families.

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What is Qi2 wireless charging?

Qi2 (“chee too”) is the latest version of the Qi “energy flow” wireless charging standard.

Famed for its “Not Invented Here” strategy, Apple can be quite precious about adopting other technical standards. It has a long history of rejecting any idea that didn’t originate within Apple itself.

However, thankfully Apple has cooperated with the creation of Qi2 to the extent that in effect it gave the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) MagSafe to use as the basis for Qi2’s Magnetic Power Profile that defines how the new generation Qi works. Apple is a WPC “steering member” and chair of the board of directors.

So what is Qi2 and why is it so great?

Think of Qi2 as not just MagSafe for Android, but MagSafe benefits for all compatible wireless charging products.

Qi2 will mean chargers won’t have to be certified by Apple to support 15W charging. They should, however, meet the technical demands of the WPC. In short, a Qi2 charger will deliver twice as fast charging as MagSafe-compatible chargers.

As MagSafe certification costs manufacturers a fee to Apple, removing this should result in cheaper chargers that match Apple-certified chargers in terms of speed. Qi2 could eventually overtake MagSafe in terms of charging speed, exceeding its 15W maximum.

Which iPhones use Qi2?

Qi2 wireless charging is . As of iOS 17.2, Apple brought the technology to all iPhone 13 and 14 models as well. It’s not clear whether the iPhone 12, the first iPhone to support MagSafe, will ever gain support.

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Which is best MagSafe or Qi2?

First, both MagSafe and Qi2 are better than plain Qi. Owing in large part to their magnetic connection, they are more efficient and definitely offer faster wireless charging than Qi.

For all extents and purposes, Qi2 looks pretty identical to MagSafe so iPhone 13/14/15 users can choose between MagSafe or Qi2 without fear.

The fact that the iPhone 12 isn’t certified as Qi2 compatible demonstrates that Qi2 and MagSafe are not identical.

Accessory maker and close partner with Apple, Belkin has stated that its upcoming BoostCharge Qi2 chargers “will be able to charge MagSafe iPhones at 15W”.

Anker claims that its MagGo Qi2 charging devices will be “compatible with all Apple MagSafe iPhone products”.

Both should clamp chargers magnetically to the iPhone in the same way and allow for 15W wireless charging.

Will Qi2 chargers work with MagSafe?

Although technically very similar, Apple is likely to still require MagSafe certification for non-Qi2 products to reach 15W wireless charging. Both the charger and the device must be certified for Qi2 for it to work at 15W, in the same way as MagSafe. However, it is likely that future MagSafe-certified products will also be certified for Qi2, and post iOS 17.2 all iPhones 13/14/15 will work natively with Qi2 chargers.

For consumers it’s a win-win as Qi2 means faster wireless charging will be brought to more devices and people. For product marketers it may be a bit of a labelling nightmare until all the chargeable devices catch up with the technology.

Is Qi2 as fast at wireless charging as MagSafe?

As the Wireless Power Consortium used Apple technology to build the Qi2 specification, it should be true that Qi2 matches MagSafe for speed. Both can charge at up to 15W and use the largely same magnetic attachment tech.

The first Qi2 charger we have tested and reviewed at Macworld is the Anker MagGo 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Station.

We tested its Qi2 wireless charging speed by charging an iPhone 15 Pro all the way to a 100% full charge, and taking timings at 30%, 50% and 80%. We did the same using a Apple’s own MagSafe Charger and also via a straight wired USB-C connection.

The fastest way to charge an iPhone is via a wired connection: USB-C to Lightning for iPhones older than the iPhone 15, and USB-C to USB-C for the iPhone 15 family. The average wired-charging time in our tests was 25 minutes to 50%, 55 minutes to 80% and 70 minutes to 100%.

Our wireless charging tests for officially Apple-certified MagSafe chargers (using Apple’s own Wireless Charger) and for Qi2 magnetic wireless charging (using the Anker MagGo) had remarkably similar timings. There was some variance either way but also small differences using the same charger so we are confident that using these two magentic wireless charging technologies came up with the same basic results on average: 45 minutes to 50%, 90 minutes to 80% and 115 minutes to 100%.

In summary, then, MagSafe and Qi2 charging at 15W results in the same times and so can be considered equal.

And, again as expected, MagSafe-compatible chargers took twice as long as the 15W chargers: 45 minutes to 30%, and 90 minutes to 50%.

Why does phone charging speed slow down as the battery gets fuller?

Batteries charge slower the fuller they get, especially in the last 10–20% of charging. The fuller the battery is, the slower it absorbs energy.

To start with, a Lithium-Ion battery accepts whatever current it can, but as the battery gets closer to being full it accepts less current, and so the power being transferred tapers off.

Imagine you were filling up a glass with water. You can start with the faucet or tap at full blast, but as the glass gets fuller, you have to slow the flow down to avoid the water spilling over, until eventually just a trickle of water goes in as you try to get it right up to the brim.

If the battery didn’t charge this way and instead filled up at full blast till reaching 100%, it would get very hot and you’d risk damaging it to the point it might explode!

Slowing down the charge when the battery is getting closer to full also increases the number of charge cycles a battery can go through before it permanently loses capacity.

Taking advantage of this, if you need to charge quickly, stop at 80%, use the device for a while and then top back up to 80% before the charging speed starts to slow.

When will Qi2 chargers be released?

Qi2 was officially announced at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in January 2023. The specifications for Qi2 are now completed and Qi2-certified chargers are now entering the market.

includes a Qi2 charger, Qi2 power banks and multi-device Qi2 chargers has also released Qi2 wireless chargers, including a car charger.

Mobile Phone Accessories, Mobile Phone Chargers, Power

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