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MagSafe vs. Qi: What are the Differences?

MagSafe and Qi chargers shown side by side.

MagSafe vs. Qi: What are the Differences?

Key Points

  • MagSafe and Qi are the two most popular wireless charging technologies.
  • MagSafe chargers have a peak power of 15W, while most Qi-certified chargers range between 7.5W-10W.
  • Qi chargers offer superior convenience because they are compatible with all certified devices.
  • MagSafe is exclusive to Apple products but may work with a few unrelated devices.
  • The Apple MagSafe is more expensive than Qi chargers.

Wireless charging technology as we know it today has been around for just over a decade. However, the history of wireless power transmission dates back to the 19th century. Nikola Tesla is credited with designing and building the Wardenclyffe Tower, the first device to transmit power wirelessly. Some historians claim that the tower could transmit power up to 26 miles away, but there have not been records to prove the assertions. Tesla could not sustain the project and shut it down. However, it laid the foundation for wireless power transmission and wireless charging. 

Currently, MagSafe and Qi are the two most popular wireless charging technologies. Though they serve the same purpose, they use different mechanisms and technologies. Below is a comparison of MagSafe vs. Qi charging technologies, including their application, efficiency, and compatibility.

MagSafe vs. Qi: Side-by-Side Comparison

MagSafeQi
CompanyApple Inc.Wireless Power Consortium
Date of release20202010 (Version 1.0)
CompatibilityiPhone 8 and later, AirPods (2nd and 3rd gen), AirPods Pro (all)All Qi-certified devices
TechnologyElectromagnetic inductionElectromagnetic induction
Peak power15 watts on iPhone 12 and later models12 watts on iPhone 12 mini and 13 mini15 watts
Best Apple Wireless Charger
Apple MagSafe Charger
$29.00
  • Charging up to 15W
  • Maintains compatibility with Qi charging
  • Has a USB-C integrated cable (1 m)
  • USB-C connector
  • Wirelessly charge your iPhone 8 or newer
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 04:30 pm GMT

MagSafe vs. Qi: What’s the Difference?

MagSafe and Qi share some similarities and differences. For example, recent MagSafe wireless chargers are built on Qi technology. As such, we expect the differences between the two wireless chargers to reduce with each subsequent release. Still, Apple keeps the MagSafe charger exclusive to its devices for product differentiation. Let’s take a detailed review of how these two charging technologies compare.

Charging Technology

best magsafe car chargers
Newer iPhone models come with built-in magnets to help align their charging coils with the MagSafe charger

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MagSafe and Qi chargers use similar charging mechanisms. Qi chargers transfer power to your Qi-certified devices through electromagnetic induction. However, what does this mean? Plugging your charger into a power source creates an electromagnetic field across the charging pad. By placing your device on the charging pad, you introduce it to the field.

Qi chargers use resonant inductive coupling to initiate power transfer. In layperson’s terms, the charger sends a signal to the device to check compatibility and energy requirements. All Qi-certified devices will usually pass the compatibility test. The Qi charger monitors a device’s energy requirement to avoid transmitting power to a fully charged battery, which could lead to overheating and fire accidents.

Though MagSafe uses the Qi technology, the application differs. iPhone 12 and later models come with built-in magnets around the charging coil. The magnets ensure a precise connection between the charging coil and the charger. Apple introduced the magnets to solve previous concerns about slow or failed charging when the charging coil was out of line with the charger. Once the connection has been established, MagSafe uses inductive charging to transfer power to the device.

Convenience and Versatility

MagSafe and Qi chargers are very user-friendly and offer great convenience. However, the extent of convenience depends on user preference and the devices you own. For example, suppose all your devices are Apple products. A MagSafe charger will serve you better than a Qi one, especially considering compatibility. It also offers faster charging times than when using a universal wireless charger.

Apple-manufactured MagSafe chargers can only support one device per charging session. iPhone users who want to charge several devices simultaneously must buy additional Apple chargers or settle for third-party ones. Apple recommends third-party MagSafe-compatible chargers from renowned manufacturers like Belkin International, Inc.

Wireless Fast Charging for All Your Devices
Belkin MagSafe 3-in-1 Fast Wireless Charging Pad
$142.99
  • Official MagSafe technology for seamless alignment of magnets
  • Compatible with iPhone 12-15, Pro and Pro Max, Apple Watch, and AirPods
  • 15W speeds charge devices up to 33% faster
  • Includes 40W AC adapter
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 04:35 pm GMT

Qi chargers offer superior convenience because they are compatible with all certified devices. You could own a Samsung smartphone, JBL earbuds, and a Garmin smartwatch and charge them using the same wireless charger. Additionally, Qi chargers can support multiple devices simultaneously.

Universal Compatibility
313 Anker Qi-Certified Wireless Charger Pad
$13.99
  • 10W max for Samsung Galaxy, 7.5W for iPhone, and 5W for other phones or wireless earbuds
  • Not compatible with MagSafe charging
  • Through-case charging up to 5mm thick
  • Includes 4-foot micro USB cable
  • Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 wall adapter (9V/2A) is required for fast charging
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03/02/2024 04:44 pm GMT

Compatibility

MagSafe accessories
The MagSafe charger is compatible with iPhone 12 and later versions

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Qi chargers edge out MagSafe when accounting for compatibility. The Wireless Power Consortium does not manufacture Qi chargers. Instead, it only provides standards and guidelines. This means you can buy a Qi wireless charging pad from any manufacturer.

You can charge a Qi-certified device with a Qi charger regardless of the brand, model, OS, or country of origin. Usually, device manufacturers include a Qi certification label, so it is easy to know compatible devices. iPhone 8 and later models are also compatible with universal Qi chargers.

MagSafe is exclusive to Apple products but may work with a few unrelated devices. Apple optimizes its MagSafe chargers for its products. For example, the built-in magnets in iPhone 12 and later models align perfectly with the MagSafe charging pad. You can also charge your Apple Watch and AirPods.

Some premium Android smartphones like the Samsung S22 and Google Pixel 7 and later models are compatible with MagSafe chargers. However, this is merely coincidental. It explains why the phones charge slower on MagSafe than on Qi chargers. Additionally, Samsung and Google do not indicate that their models are compatible with MagSafe.

Charging Speed

Charging speed is an essential factor to consider when comparing chargers. You do not want a charger that takes six hours to boost your battery to 50%. MagSafe and Qi chargers take less than three hours to charge your phone to 100%. However, MagSafe slightly edges out Qi chargers.

iPhone users can expect a peak power of 15W when using a MagSafe charger with an iPhone 12 or later model. Charging a healthy iPhone battery from 0 to 100% takes about two hours. The MagSafe’s peak power drops to 12W when charging an iPhone 12 mini or 13 mini. Apple does not specify how long it takes to charge AirPods or Apple Watch with the MagSafe charger.

The Wireless Power Consortium recommends a peak power of 15W. However, most Qi chargers range between 7.5W-10W for cost-efficiency and safety reasons. Manufacturing a 15W Qi-certified charger is expensive, resulting in a high MSRP. Cases of overheating and device damage have also discouraged manufacturers from making 15W chargers. Most Qi chargers take 2.5-3.5 hours to charge a phone from 0 to 100%, depending on their peak power output.

Price

Unsurprisingly, the Apple MagSafe is more expensive than Qi chargers. Apple is always known to price its products slightly above market price. This strategy has been effective as consumers often associate the high prices with quality and Apple being a luxury brand. The Apple MagSafe costs about $30. This is quite high compared to Qi-certified chargers, which cost as low as $10. For around $30, you can get a Qi charger that supports three devices simultaneously.

Affordable Charging Solution
Wireless 3-in-1 Fast Desk Charging Station
$31.99
  • Charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously
  • Up to 10W output for Phones, 5W for AirPods 2 (wireless case)/Pro, and 3W for Apple Watch
  • Also compatible with Samsung and Google phones
  • 100% anti-static with additional charging safety precautions
  • Includes USB Type-C power cable
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 05:34 pm GMT

MagSafe vs. Qi: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • The Wireless Power Consortium does not manufacture wireless chargers. It only provides standards for Qi certification.
  • Apple MagSafe chargers are built on the Qi Standard.
  • MagSafe chargers have a peak power of 15W, while most Qi-certified chargers range between 7.5W-10W.
  • iPhone 8 and later models are compatible with universal Qi-certified chargers.
  • It takes about two hours to charge a phone to 100% on a 15W wireless charger.
  • Most wireless chargers go into standby mode when the connected phone reaches 100%.

MagSafe vs. Qi: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

So, which wireless charging technology is the best for you? It comes down to your personal preferences and the type of devices you have. For example, we recommend buying a MagSafe charger if most of your devices are Apple products. You can expect fast charging of up to 15W, especially if you own an iPhone 12 or later model. Most Qi-certified chargers have a peak power of 10W, so it would be a disservice to use one when you could enjoy faster charging speeds with a MagSafe.

In contrast, get a Qi-certified charger if you own an Android smartphone. It is cheaper than the MagSafe. It is also compatible with Qi-certified devices, so you can charge your smartwatch and earbuds using the same charger. We also recommend buying a Qi-certified charger if you want the convenience of charging several devices simultaneously. Some Qi-certified wireless pads can charge two phones simultaneously, while others can support a smartphone, smartwatch, and earbuds.

  1. Apple MagSafe Charger
    $29.00
    • Charging up to 15W
    • Maintains compatibility with Qi charging
    • Has a USB-C integrated cable (1 m)
    • USB-C connector
    • Wirelessly charge your iPhone 8 or newer
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:30 pm GMT
  2. Belkin MagSafe 3-in-1 Fast Wireless Charging Pad
    $142.99
    • Official MagSafe technology for seamless alignment of magnets
    • Compatible with iPhone 12-15, Pro and Pro Max, Apple Watch, and AirPods
    • 15W speeds charge devices up to 33% faster
    • Includes 40W AC adapter
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:35 pm GMT
  3. 313 Anker Qi-Certified Wireless Charger Pad
    $13.99
    • 10W max for Samsung Galaxy, 7.5W for iPhone, and 5W for other phones or wireless earbuds
    • Not compatible with MagSafe charging
    • Through-case charging up to 5mm thick
    • Includes 4-foot micro USB cable
    • Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 wall adapter (9V/2A) is required for fast charging
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:44 pm GMT
  4. Wireless 3-in-1 Fast Desk Charging Station
    $31.99
    • Charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously
    • Up to 10W output for Phones, 5W for AirPods 2 (wireless case)/Pro, and 3W for Apple Watch
    • Also compatible with Samsung and Google phones
    • 100% anti-static with additional charging safety precautions
    • Includes USB Type-C power cable
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 05:34 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a MagSafe and a Qi charger?

A MagSafe is exclusive to Apple products, while a Qi charger works with all certified devices. MagSafe is built on the Qi standard, which makes Apple products compatible with Qi-certified chargers.

Which charging technology is faster, MagSafe or Qi?

Both charging technologies have a peak power of 15W. However, most Qi-certified chargers are limited to 10W, making them slower than MagSafe chargers.

Can I charge my iPhone using a Qi-certified charger?

Yes. iPhone 8 and later models are compatible with Qi-certified chargers. However, expect slower charging speeds than when using a MagSafe.

Why is my smartphone not working with a wireless charger?

A possible reason is that your smartphone is not Qi-certified. Confirm that it has a Qi certification label. Other issues include using a thick phone case or incorrectly placing your phone on the charging pad.

How much is a wireless charger?

An Apple MagSafe charger costs about $30. However, for Qi-certified chargers, the price depends on the brand, peak power, and number of supported devices. A generic Qi-certified charger costs about $10.

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