Product reviews, deals and the latest tech news

The 20 Best Accessories and MagSafe Gear for the iPhone 12

the iphone 12 apple watch and airpods charge on belkins 3 in 1 wireless charger
Enlarge / Belkin’s 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand is elegant, and capable, charging three Apple devices at once.

Corey Gaskin

The new iPhone 12 lineup has more options than ever, with three new models at a variety of sizes. All of these are equipped with the new MagSafe technology, which means faster-than-usual wireless charging and some unique iPhone 12 accessories coming down the pike.

We spent the past few weeks testing some of this new MagSafe gear and can confirm that it is indeed nice to have more convenient wireless charging and built-in magnets on the iPhone. Our roundup below includes MagSafe accessories like chargers, stands, mounts, and cases, alongside a few tried-and-true iPhone accessories that work with a wider range of models—including the MagSafe-equipped iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Mini, but also other Lightning-equipped iPhones.

If nothing else, those who just got a new iPhone 12—and didn’t have an iPhone 11 series before—may benefit from a new fast charger. Welcome to the future, iPhone fans! Now enjoy the best MagSafe and iOS accessories we’ve tested.

iPhone fast chargers

Anker's chargers juice up iPhones and other devices quickly and undercut Apple's prices for similar performance in doing so.
Enlarge / Anker’s chargers juice up iPhones and other devices quickly and undercut Apple’s prices for similar performance in doing so.

Corey Gaskin

If you’re still relying on stock 5W iPhone chargers you may have accumulated over the years, you should look into a charging upgrade. In fact, if the iPhone 12 is your first iPhone, you don’t really have a choice. No wall adapter comes with the iPhone 12 series. While frustrating, this means you might as well take advantage of the faster charging capabilities baked into recent iPhone models.

Anker PowerPort III Nano product image

Anker PowerPort III Nano

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Pairing your included USB-C charging cable with Anker’s 20W Nano adapter, for instance, can cut your charging time in half, taking about 90 minutes to get from zero percent charge to 100 percent in our testing. That’s an appreciable upgrade over the puny 5W output from Apple’s pre-iPhone 11 chargers, which took around three and a half hours to get the job done, and reaches the iPhone 12’s fastest charging rates. Similarly, a shorter charge period on the 20W Nano will get the battery further along than the old 5W charger: Thirty minutes of charging will take you to about 50 percent, whereas the 5W model barely gets to 20 percent.

The Nano is the same size as Apple’s old 5W chargers and undercuts the price of Apple’s first-party 20W charger by a few bucks, despite being just as powerful and more compact. The company uses its proprietary Power IQ 3.0 charging technology, not the more standardized USB-C Power Delivery, but it still safely and reliably puts out the highest possible charge rate for iPhones (in this case, up to 20W). And if you need a spare USB-C to Lightning cable, we can vouch for Anker’s six-foot PowerLine II lightning cables as a reliable way to extend your phone’s reach.

Double up your charging ports

RavPower's RP-PC128 (right), next to Aukey's Omnia PA-B4 wall charger.
Enlarge / RavPower’s RP-PC128 (right), next to Aukey’s Omnia PA-B4 wall charger.

Jeff Dunn

Another good option to double returns on your investment is one of Anker’s dual-port chargers. Depending on your most used secondary or tertiary device, the PowerPort Atom III or PowerPort PD 2 could be useful additions. 

Multi-Port USB-C Fast Chargers product image

Multi-Port USB-C Fast Chargers

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

If you’d like something capable of charging an iPhone, iPad, or USB-C-enabled laptop alongside a lower-power USB-A device, the PowerPort Atom III is a great choice for the money. Pumping out 45W through the USB-C port and 15W through USB-A, this charger can power up an M1 MacBook Air or iPad Pro while simultaneously juicing up your iPhone or Apple Watch. Only the 45W USB-C port has enough power to charge the iPhone 12 at full speed, but charging via the 15W USB-A will still get the job done faster than the typical 5W iPhone charger.

If you’re less in need of a secondary iPad or laptop charger and more the type who just needs to keep their iPhone and Apple Watch or headphones charged, the PowerPort PD 2 is a good answer for simpler fast charging. It’ll fill up the iPhone at its (effective) maximum 18W rate and power up your Apple Watch at its standard 5W speed, which unfortunately gets no higher regardless of the charger. If you’re charging both at the same time the iPhone won’t reach the effective 18W max, but it still charges quickly at 15W.

If you need more power, though, consider RavPower’s RP-PC128. This is a 90W charger with two USB-C Power Delivery ports that can output a 90W charge from either port—it’s enough to charge most laptops at full speed—or split that 90W between the two to charge lower-power devices at 45W each, or 60W and 30W, for instance. That means it could simultaneously charge two MacBook Airs or a 13-inch MacBook Pro and iPhone 12 at their top speeds. With gallium nitride (GaN) technology within, the RavPower charger is able to be compact and powerful, covering most any of your charging needs handily.

An Apple MagSafe charger

Apple MagSafe Charger product image

Apple MagSafe Charger

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

More efficient wireless charging is the primary selling point of MagSafe technology. With the ability to deliver up to 15W charging speeds, the tech supplies double the maximum power of wireless charging on previous generation iPhones, triple the power of older 5W adapters, and only slightly less than the 18W effective maximum that iPhones can reach through wired charging. In other words, MagSafe will charge your phone nearly as fast as possible.

Magnets in the charger and in the back of iPhone 12 itself ensure that it aligns perfectly, delivering the most efficient charge in a snap. Finally having a viable solution to wirelessly charge your iPhone (that doesn’t take double the already long charging time) means you can just drop it on your desk and let it charge or use it in tandem with another mounting accessory as a charging stand. Paired with a MagSafe compatible case, you won’t have to remove it to receive the full 15W charge.

A 3-in-1 MagSafe charging stand

Belkin Boost Charge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless MagSafe Charger product image

Belkin Boost Charge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless MagSafe Charger

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Belkin has beaten many accessory makers to the punch in offering a wireless charging trifecta for Apple users: a 3-in-1 charging stand with MagSafe support. Though it’s certainly more expensive than simply buying three separate chargers, the company’s Boost Charge Pro is an elegant piece of hardware with a solid build quality, and it holds your phone in air while it charges at near-top speeds. Like all MagSafe chargers, it can deliver the wireless tech’s full 15W charge through a MagSafe compatible case or directly through the back of the iPhone 12.

At the other end of the stand is an Apple Watch charger, so you can juice up your watch alongside your phone, and in the base is a 15W wireless charging pad for AirPods or any other Qi wireless charging device. Wireless charging in the base isn’t MagSafe compatible, unlike in the arm of the stand. So you won’t get the fastest iPhone charging there, but it will power up an AirPods case as quickly as any wireless charger could.

If you’re buying for someone without an iPhone 12, Mophie’s 3-in-1 charger may not be as svelte, but it’s every bit as functional for non-MagSafe compatible phones.

A MagSafe compatible iPhone stand

MagCone Phone Stand product image

MagCone Phone Stand

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

If you like the idea of a MagSafe compatible stand for your desk or nightstand, then the MagCone stand is worth a look. The cone itself is a solid and sturdy piece of metal that sits on a rubber foot. Atop that is a magnetic ball which, when paired with its flat circular magnetic plate, acts as a hinge that rotates and stays fixed with the weight of the phone in any direction.

The cone itself isn’t a MagSafe device since it doesn’t deliver a charge, but it does act as a stand for your MagSafe charger. The included thin iron sticker plate adheres to the back of your MagSafe charger, creating a strong magnetic bonding point between the charger and the stand—much stronger than were you to not use the included iron sticker plate. This facilitates quick mounting and dismounting from the stand while delivering a fast charge from your MagSafe charger.

The magnets are strong enough to use with any of the MagSafe compatible cases we tested. They keep the phone fixed in whichever direction you choose. The small and svelte piece of hardware should fit in well on most any desktop or nightstand without being obtrusive.

An iPhone 12 car mount

Belkin Car Vent Mount Pro with MagSafe product image

Belkin Car Vent Mount Pro with MagSafe

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Besides its charging capabilities, MagSafe can also simplify mounting your iPhone. When you’re getting in the car and just want to get going, for instance, futzing with clamps and locking your phone in a car mount can get annoying. Previously, you’d have to get a special case, typically one that uses magnets, to avoid this. A device like Belkin’s MagSafe Car Vent Mount, however, makes it easy to snap your phone securely in place with a tap. And since it’s MagSafe-compatible, it doesn’t require a case. You can still use a MagSafe-compatible case along with it, though.

The car vent mount lets you position the phone horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally, and it tilts on a sturdy but easy to move ball hinge. That adjustability and ease of use makes this an easy recommendation for iPhone 12 owners in need of a car vent mount.

An all-in-one Apple Watch and iPhone portable charger

Mophie Powerstation All-in-One + Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux product image

Mophie Powerstation All-in-One + Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Mophie’s Powerstation all-in-one charger is just what it says: a portable charger that covers all your Apple device needs. It’s not MagSafe equipped, but this 8,000 mAh battery pack has USB-C output for top-speed 18W iPhone charging, a Qi wireless charging pad, a built-in Apple Watch charger, and a USB-A output. Mophie says this translates to up to 42 hours of iPhone charge, 11 hours on an iPad Mini, and an additional seven hours for an iPad Pro. Oh, and it can charge your Apple Watch 26 times over.

These numbers line up pretty well with our experience, but if you’re more interested in higher output battery packs than the Mophie’s Apple device versatility, you can certainly spend less for more power. Anker’s PowerCore 10000 PD Redux, for instance, is a $40 10,000 mAh power bank that can deliver top speed iPhone charges at 18W via the USB-C PD port. It can also charge lower power devices through the other USB-A port, which uses Anker’s Charge IQ 3.0 to deliver up to 12W.

An iPhone glass screen protector

Zagg Invisible Shield Glass Elite Visionguard+ product image

Zagg Invisible Shield Glass Elite Visionguard+

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Zagg’s Invisible Shield screen protectors have been around longer than the iPhone itself. The Invisible Shield line has had many iterations over the years, from self-healing skins to blue light-filtering glass screen protectors. The Glass Elite Visionguard+ is exactly the latter. Without tinting your screen yellow, the glass pane is engineered and tested to Eyesafe’s RPF (Retina Protection Factor) 20 standard, which means it filters out 99 percent of UV rays and 20 percent high-energy visible (HEV) blue light from your phone screen in an effort to reduce eye strain. Eyesafe standards are incorporated into a variety of products, from VR headsets to laptops, and though it’s not something that was immediately noticeable in our testing, it should benefit your vision in the long run.

Though it’s not shatterproof glass, it adds some reinforcement and a scratch and shock-absorbing barrier for shorter falls. Zagg claims it’s four times stronger against scratches than your unprotected screen, and while we weren’t able to test this particular claim, it did appear more resistant to little nicks and abrasions from every day use during our time with it. It’s not any better at preventing fingerprints as the company advertises, though.

Still, slapping one on is easy with the included guide frame, and it’s a nice bit of peace of mind to have. Especially when the company offers an unlimited lifetime warranty on all Invisible Shield screen protectors, as Zagg has always done. If you end up needing to replace the protector, Zagg lets you do so for an $8 shipping fee.

This is certainly expensive for a screen protector, though. For a more straightforward cover, something like amFilm’s OneTouch costs slightly over $10 and does the basics well without adding much bulk (0.33mm) to the iPhone’s display.

Staying in the family with the AirPods Pro

The Beats Powerbeats Pro (left) and Apple AirPods Pro.
Enlarge / The Beats Powerbeats Pro (left) and Apple AirPods Pro.

Jeff Dunn

Apple AirPods Pro + Beats Powerbeats Pro product image

Apple AirPods Pro + Beats Powerbeats Pro

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

AirPods and iDevices are always a great pair—sometimes literally. Apple’s headphones pair swiftly and simply with iPhones and iPads, and, in the case of the AirPods Pro, add noise cancellation to your listening or talking experience. We found the original AirPods to be a fine pair for Apple diehards and recently gave a heartier recommendation for the AirPods Pro in our Ultimate Work From Home Guide, particularly for their capable noise cancelling functionality, which is highly effective among true wireless in-ear headphones.

Sound is well balanced and not overly bass heavy while still delivering some punch, and battery life is decent, if not great at about five hours of listening. They’re comfortable to wear during that time though and easy to forget you have in whether you’re working from home with noise cancellation on or walking the streets pumping some tunes. They’re not ideal for workouts, though, without sweat resistance and ear hooks, so Beats Powerbeats Pro are a better consideration for gym rats and runners. Those buds are a bit heavier in bass, but not to the point of muddiness, but they also have more than double the battery life at 11 hours and virtually all the same easy pairing tricks as the AirPods.

MagSafe compatible cases

Apple Silicone Case and iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe

Right now, MagSafe-compatible cases are in short supply as case makers catch up to Apple with their own offerings. Apple’s cases work predictably well with the iPhone 12, though, with the silicone and leather cases coming off as particularly nice. They slip on and off easily, add a bit of grip to the iPhone, and avoid making the volume and power buttons hard to press—all characteristics we can’t quite apply to Apple’s hard shell plastic case.

The silicone and leather cases not only add a modicum of protection but also allow for MagSafe charging, which is just as easy to engage with or without the case on. The leather wallet attachment can be affixed either directly to the back of the iPhone or on the MagSafe-ready case. Just note that you’ll need to take the wallet off to charge your phone via the MagSafe charger in either instance.

Apple iPhone 12 Silicone Case with MagSafe + Apple Leather Wallet with MagSafe product image

Apple iPhone 12 Silicone Case with MagSafe + Apple Leather Wallet with…

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

A better clear plastic case with MagSafe

Gear4 Crystal Palace MagSafe Case for iPhone 12 product image

Gear4 Crystal Palace MagSafe Case for iPhone 12

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

If you’d like to step up protection a bit without adding too much bulk, the slightly thicker Gear4 cases bring more density with the use of D30 material for reinforcement. This is one of my favorite things I’ve seen demoed in person: it’s a malleable, almost putty-like substance that you can wrap around your hand, but when it’s put under pressure or impact of any kind, it stiffens up and absorbs the shock.

So, for instance, you could wrap your hand in the D30 compound and hit it repeatedly with a rubber mallet and feel no effects—which is exactly what Zagg, the parent company of Gear4, demonstrated to me in Las Vegas almost one year ago. It was quite the little trick, and that’s the very magic that surrounds your phone when you use a D30 case made by Gear4.

If you’re a fan of clear cases, Gear4’s Crystal Palace MagSafe case is a much better option than Apple’s clear plastic case, not just for its stronger technical properties, but because it also doesn’t make the phone’s buttons a struggle to press, thanks to the use of softer silicone around these parts.

A rugged iPhone case with MagSafe

OtterBox Cases for iPhone 12 product image

OtterBox Cases for iPhone 12

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

If you’re serious about protecting your phone, then you’re probably familiar with the OtterBox brand. The company came to prominence in the phone accessory market for its rugged Defender series of cases, which covered phone ports and included built-in screen protectors before glass screen shields generally came into favor.

While the latest iterations have eschewed the built-in plastic screen protectors, the Defender series still covers an iPhone’s ports via attached rubber plugs and still feature a multi-layer hard plastic and thick rubber casing material. It’s the kind of case that you think would bounce, at least a little, if it dropped with your phone inside. OtterBox tests the Defender series to five times the drops of military-grade standard MIL-STD-810G 516.6, which doesn’t guarantee your phone will never break while encased but, in our experience, it does provide a significant bit of protection towards avoiding it.

Since these cases are compatible with MagSafe, they can also stick onto a MagSafe car mount or desk stand without having to remove the case. If you don’t like the aesthetic of the Defender, Otterbox’s Symmetry+ and Aneu cases are a bit less bulky but still provide thicker hard plastic backs with rubberized sides for shock absorption and easy button presses.