This past Tuesday, when Apple
unveiled the 2020 iPhone 12 line
(which included the first iPhone models to support 5G), it also introduced a line of accessories that use magnets to stay connected to an iPhone's body. Called MagSafe, the system helps you add a leather wallet (a real physical one) to your phone along with other accessories. RFID protection prevents credit card numbers from being stolen. Other MagSafe features expected in the near future include a wireless charging
pad that will power up multiple devices simultaneously.
Patent application shows Apple is developing a MagSafe battery case
Another MagSafe accessory that deals with charging an iPhone is the subject of a patent application that was filed by Apple in August of 2019 and published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
. Titled Accessory Case with a Power Supply
, the patent shows how Apple plans on offering a MagSafe accessory case with, well, a power supply. The case will not only charge an iPhone but will also replenish a pair of AirPods
. One of the illustrations shows that the case has two holders with each one designed to keep an AirPod in place by a strap using material or a magnet to keep the wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
Illustration from the patent application shows a MagSafe battery case with AirPods holders
Apple describes the product in the patent application as "An accessory device...used to receive and carry an electronic device. Further, the accessory device may include a cover that is pivotally coupled to the receptacle. The cover is designed to protect a front surface of the electronic device, including a cover glass. The accessory device may further include a power supply (such as a battery) that is located on the cover. The power supply is designed to provide power to the electronic device, and subsequently charge a battery of the electronic device. The power supply can also provide power to different devices. In this regard, the accessory device may include an inductive charging coil that can inductively charge a battery of a device located on the accessory device. The inductive charging coil can be integrated into the receptacle or the cover."
According to the patent application, once the iPhone is inserted into the case, it will connect automatically with the battery. The power supply is removable and can be exchanged with a fully charged replacement. Some versions of the accessory, according to Apple, will be equipped with an "inductive charging module that includes an inductive charging receiver coil designed to receive energy (through electromagnetic or magnetic induction) that is used to charge the power supply.
MagSafe might remind you of Motorola's Moto Mods and if so, you're not alone. The latter used strong magnets to allow accessories to connect to the Moto Z line of phones. Motorola built up an inventory of Moto Mod accessories including a battery pack, a 5G modem, a projector, a JBL speaker, and more. It is possible that we will see Apple offer a large list of accessories for MagSafe and the patent application reveals that Apple is apparently thinking along the same lines. It will be interesting to see how the MagSafe ecosystem grows over the next few years. Right now, Apple is selling a wireless charger and a Duo Wireless Charger. The latter uses a folding design that allows the user to charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch
at the same time.
If MagSafe generates some decent revenue, it could attract more third-party accessory manufacturers resulting in some exciting new capabilities for iPhone models that are compatible with the MagSafe system.