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There’s an interesting new piece of technology embedded inside the iPhone 12 – an alignment magnet array placed in the back of the phone. While that may not sound like much right now, that magnet is actually a gateway to a whole new future of Apple accessories and could revolutionize how we actually use smartphones. We know – that’s a pretty wild claim. But here’s why this tech is so important.
A New World for Wireless Charging
The first and most obvious change a magnetic phone back can bring is a new type of wireless charger – one that simply attaches to the back of the phone and charges with induction that way. Unlike traditional wireless chargers, this allows you to pick up and use your iPhone while it’s charging, instead of needing to leave it on a mat or pedestal. It also makes charging cables more durable, and allows phones to have one less port, which can help make them more waterproof and less prone to issues.
Apple is all over this, with a new MagSafe wireless charger that’s meant to do exactly that. Expect other smartphone makers to follow suit with similar magnetic chargers that allow for the same advantages.
Innovative Magnetic Cases
Apple is also launching a line of MagSafe-compatible cases for the iPhone. These cases are seriously innovative: Since they are held on by the magnet, they don’t actually need to wrap all the way around the sides of the iPhone. That means that these new cases can leave all remaining ports clear for easy attachment. Apple has assured buyers that these snap-on cases are compatible with wireless chargers, and even includes a version with a cardholder for extra utility (it can essentially snap off into a separate wallet whenever you want, and the magnetic won’t damage your cards).
It also opens up the possibility of snapping and unsnapping several different cases with different capabilities, something that was too awkward for traditional pull-cases to really allow for.
Doing some camera work with your phone? Snap on a case with selfie stick attachment. Ready for the long haul? Snap on your case with an attached battery pack – and so on. Plus, these cases don’t need to be as bulky as wrap-around cases to get the job done, so it would be easier to store multiple options.
New Ways to Mount
When wireless chargers can magnetically attach to a phone, you can put them just about anywhere (some brands are already announced magnetic car mounts that are compatible with MagSafe, although these have existed in various forms for some time). That means any surface in your home could potentially become an iPhone charger, including a space on your walls – perhaps something that ties in with smart home management.
But our best guess for a wireless charging mount is a version that comes with your computer monitor. That would allow people using, say, an iMac to just phone their iPhone onto the computer and let it charge while still being able to see it – and without the need to use a separate dock accessory.
Smart Speaker Expansion
We don’t know all the accessories that are in development for the MagSafe magnet, but Apple has indicated that there are more products in the pipeline. But another area we see lots of potential in is with smart speakers like the HomePod.
Imagine a future version of the HomePod with a magnetic mounting section for the iPhone. Head to your favorite playlist, snap your iPhone onto the HomePod, and it will automatically start playing. Want to turn your smart speaker into a smart display? Attach the iPhone, and you can use the screen for FaceTime while the HomePod’s mic and speakers do the rest of the work. It will even charge your iPhone while it’s working!
The Portless iPhone
Finally, it’s very likely that this is a first step in Apple design of the rumored port-free iPhone. Earlier this year, we mentioned that a wireless charger like the kind Apple released would be necessary for an iPhone with no ports (NFC and Wi-Fi Direct technology, along with some innovative magnetic data transfer, could take care of the rest). A big advantage of a portless iPhone is that it could be made more or less waterproof without any additional protection.