Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Charger connected to Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger

Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Quite a few people have been asking me about Apple’s MagSafe Duo wireless charger, a combination charger that features a MagSafe charging pad for the iPhone, and a separate charging pad for the Apple Watch.

Interest in this accessory surprises me because this isn’t a particularly new bit of kit. Debuting in December 2020, a lot of water has gone under the tech bridge since it was first released. 

I’m putting the renewed interest down to there being more people now who own both a MagSafe-enabled iPhone and an Apple Watch.

That said, it is, in my opinion, the best iPhone and Apple Watch wireless charger around. As long as you know what charger you need to combine it with to power it properly.

Also: How (and why) to use Apple’s new iCloud Shared Photo Library

The MagSafe Duo wireless charger is a fold-out charger that, for me, is ideal for travel. You can charge the iPhone and Apple Watch together on a nightstand and you can pop your AirPods or AirPods Pro case onto the MagSafe charger when that needs the occasional power top-up.

Everything about the charger exudes that Apple quality.

The rubberized outer part is soft and durable, and it closes using magnets. The Apple Watch charger hinges on a beautifully engineered hinge, and, in that way that is synonymous to Apple — it just works.  

Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger upright on brown background.

That Apple quality you expect for the money.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

But there’s also confusion about what the charger can and can’t do, and I think most of this is down to the fact that Apple doesn’t include a charger for it.

To operate the MagSafe Duo wireless charger at its fullest, you need a minimum of a 27W USB-C charger. Anything less than that, and you’re not getting full power from it. If you’re planning to charge both an iPhone and an Apple Watch simultaneously, you’ll need at minimum a 15W charger, and your charge speeds will be much slower than usual.

Also: The best MagSafe accessories

Oh, and to throw even more confusion into the mix, fast-charge for the Apple Watch is not supported. This means that if you’re used to the quicker charge times on the never Apple Watches — especially the Ultra — you may be surprised because you’re not getting them here.

Rather than being for fast-charging, the MagSafe Duo is more something you leave your gadgets on overnight to charge.

So if you’re rushing out of the door of your hotel and forgot to charge your Apple Watch, you’ll find you’re back to slow, old-school charging. And if you own an Ultra, expect glacially slow charge times.

Apple Watch and iPhone lying on charging pad.

No fast-charge support for newer Apple Watches.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Something else to bear in mind is that you’re not really “carrying less” by using the MagSafe Duo wireless charger. The MagSafe Duo requires you to carry a Lightning cable (included with the Duo) to power the charging pad, and a separate charger. Compare this with the Lightning cable, Apple Watch charging cable, and dual-port USB-C charger that I’d otherwise need.

So the MagSafe Duo wireless charger is more a style and convenience thing, rather than something that allows you to travel lighter.

Also: The best wireless charging pads

Why do I choose to use the MagSafe Duo then?

I like the neatness of having all my devices charging in one place. It also means that I’m not carrying around my expensive Apple Watch fast-charging cable. Combine the MagSafe Duo with a quality USB-C charger, and my travel charging needs are satisfied, and I can keep that setup specifically for when I’m out and about.

I like that convenience.

Hand holding a closed Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger.

Apple quality, Apple price.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Is the Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger nice? Yes. Very.

Is it over $100 nice?

If you like to be in that “all things Apple” camp, and as long as you’re comfortable with the limitations on Apple Watch charging, then that’s a yes. The MagSafe Duo wireless charger is a stylish, well-made MagSafe charger that you know is going to deliver on everything it promises. Sure, there are alternatives that are a lot cheaper, but you’ll miss out on the high-speed MagSafe phone charging as well as that premium Apple quality.

Before I end, a word of caution.

There seem to be a lot of MagSafe Duo counterfeits out there. Some are clearly fakes because they retail for well under the recommended retail price, while others sell at the full price and are designed to rip you off.

Also: This is the best MagSafe power bank for the iPhone masses (Hint: It’s not Apple’s)

If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of a MagSafe charger, place your iPhone on the charging pad and tap on Settings > General > About on your iPhone, and there you should see an entry for your MagSafe charger. Tapping on that entry will give you information about the charger.

Apple MagSafe Duo charger settings

Here’s how to tell if your MagSafe charger is genuine.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Don’t see this? Then your Apple MagSafe charger is a fake. 

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