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The iPhone 12’s MagSafe is a sleeper feature that’s a bigger problem than you might think.

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MagSafe is one of the coolest features on the new iPhone 12.

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With the announcement of the iPhone 12 family by Apple, 5G has been spotlighted. Not surprising given the hype and investment in next-generation wireless technology. While 5G continues to mature into a myriad of technological foundations of innovation, it’s the unobtrusive MagSafe feature that has the potential to have the most direct impact on consumers.

Writing that 5G development still needs time is almost a sacrifice to me. After all, since 2015, when I first wrote about Verizon’s intention to field-test ultra-fast cellular technology, I’ve covered the potentially game-changing nature of 5G. But the truth is that the first deployment does not represent a significant increase in speed.

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MagSafe, on the other hand, offers some specific benefits, regardless of where you live or whether you’re near the right cell tower. MagSafe charges faster than previous iPhones, comparable to the fast charging Android phones have long enjoyed. And while this sounds ridiculous, it’s cool to see the phone snap into place and you can visually see that you haven’t messed with the device placement.

“You no longer have to guess where the sweet spot is,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.

MagSafe has its own long-term potential. The magnetic pins on the back of the phone are reminiscent of other attempts to push the attachment ecosystem, from Motorola’s Moto Mods to the Essential Phone PH-1’s modular cameras. Neither of those companies ran enough phones to really get many accessory makers really interested to take the risk of bold ideas-especially Essential was a complete flop-. In most cases, I got a spare battery pack.

Apple’s scale changes everything.

Pave the way

Apple’s huge reach (Strategy Analytics predicts to sell 180 million units next year) represents a potentially huge market for anyone considering building MagSafe accessories. This opportunity is especially plentiful for anyone looking at attachments other than the basic wireless charging station. Think of a game controller, camera grip, selfie stick, and, of course, a wireless charging battery pack that can change the way you hold and operate your iPhone.

In an Apple presentation on Tuesday, Deniz Teoman, vice president of hardware systems engineering at Apple, said, “We’ll see how others can use MagSafe to create an innovative way to create a robust and ever-expanding ecosystem. I can’t wait. “

It’s not an exaggeration. From mobile payments to wireless charging, Apple has ways to spread and justify technology trends. In the event of a shortage of Motorola and Essential, Apple was able to popularize the concept of magnetic attachments.

Phone accessory maker Belkin has already announced two MagSafe accessories, a charging stand that can handle iPhone 12, Apple Watch, and Apple Airpods, and a traditional car mount. Steve Malony, senior vice president of Belkin, said the early products were more “bread and butter” when compared to future accessories on the roadmap.

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“Some of the ideas we come across at the desk are pretty wild,” he teased. “It will be fun to take those ideas and put them into action.”

Modular dream

MagSafe feels like the spiritual successor to Google’s Project Ara, a modular phone that uses magnets to attach small components to a handset and assemble it as if it were assembling something from Lego.

Modular was touted as a potential breakthrough innovation in smartphones. LG tried his hand on the G5 phone. This allowed us to replace the bottom of the device with various attachments such as grips and Hi-Fi speakers. This trend went up and disappeared as Google put the project on hold and quietly abandoned it. The G5 was so flop that LG followed up on much more conventional phones next year.

5G MotoMod that provided MotoZ35G functionality before any other device.

Derek Poore / CNET

“The bigger problem is that a fully modular design is more appealing to engineers than consumers,” said Avi Greengart, a Technical analyst. “Smartphones are a highly evolved product, and people buy the best affordable phones that meet their current needs, rather than a platform for later tinkering.”

Moto Mods represents a streamlined version of the modular concept, offering a full phone with a variety of interchangeable backs. This concept allowed the Motorola Moto Z3 to become the first 5G phone on Verizon’s network, thanks to a 5G mod mounted on the back of the device. But still, the phone without mods felt like half a device, and the gimmick was the core of the phone.

Apple has refined it further and provided the iPhone 12 with a complete handset, but there is also the option to magnetically attach accessories.

“MagSafe excels in its simplicity,” says Greengart.

Maloney calls MagSafe the “time of change” in the accessories market and hopes that a wave of attachments will come from the industry.

“This will change the game,” he said.

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