Last week I wrote about being excited to try out a new MagSafe battery pack that was headed my way. That was delayed a while due to a massive snow storm and cold snap that shut down the southern US for over a week. It continued to be delayed this week, as FedEx and UPS both dug out from a week of backed up deliveries. Unfortunately, I also had to work out of town most of this week, so I wasn’t home when the new rebranded Charge Fast MagSafe Power Pack finally arrived.
I got back home after midnight Friday, so I finally got to try my new accessory out Saturday morning. What I can tell you is that it does work. The Charge Fast pack attaches to the back of the iPhone fairly securely, as it should. I tried to dislodge it by shaking my phone up and down, but it never fell off, so that’s a point in its favor.
The pack can shift a little on the back of the phone when you hold it, which is similar to what I’ve heard about Apple’s own MagSafe Wallet. The Charge Fast battery pack is also pretty thick, which was apparent in the product pics on Amazon.
That thickness does make it easy to move the pack while holding it, but it never came off or even stopped charging in my testing, so from a functional standpoint, this battery pack does what it’s supposed to do. However, the thickness when combined with a rather dull and drab design that doesn’t exactly fit with the iPhone and makes for a rather unimpressive look. If style matters to you, this accessory will be an instant pass.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a MagSafe-compatible case to try the Charge Fast pack out with at the moment. However, I can report that, while the pack won’t stay attached through a regular case, it will charge.
That’s the same as you can expect from Apple’s own MagSafe charger. I think I will finally go ahead and pick up a MagSafe case in the next day or two so I can test this more thoroughly.
I do appreciate the fact that this battery pack is more than just one-dimensional. It has USB-A and USB-C ports, both of which can be used to charge devices the old fashioned way. Unfortunately, that’s also adds to the thickness of the pack. More on that in a bit.
It can also charge other devices wirelessly. I was able to get my AirPods Pro case to register a charge by placing it at the top of the pack, like so. You can see the orange charge light is lit.
So what’s the downside of the Charge Fast battery pack? Heat. If you have your iPhone outside of the case and not in use, it heats up a bit. Not uncomfortably so, but definitely more than when using Apple’s own MagSafe charger. If you have the Charge Safe pack attached while using the phone, then you’re really going to know it.
After several minutes, the phone and pack get really hot. Too hot. Anyone who’s used an external battery with an iPhone knows how this can be. Even though Charge Fast states that the pack has internal circuitry to prevent this, it probably won’t come into play unless things get to an unsafe level.
The above is the case with pretty much all batteries and cases that attach directly to the iPhone. Other than a few third party products, Apple’s Smart Battery Cases are the primary exception. They work much differently because Apple builds in sensors that tie directly into iOS and handle charging the device while managing heat and the flow of power. I’ve owned Mophie cases that were better than the typical Amazon battery pack, but no one matches or tops Apple.
The Smart Battery Cases are also more intelligent than any other battery case about re-charging the external battery and phone simultaneously. They are a great example of the tight integration that Apple builds into its own products.
Looking at the performance of Charge Fast’s battery pack and thinking about the Smart Battery Case tells me all I need to know about the delays with Apple releasing their own MagSafe battery pack. We all know they aren’t going to release a product unless it can charge an iPhone that’s in use without heating up. That kind of performance and integration comes with a lot of software load, which is what we hear is a big reason for the holdup in Apple moving forward with this product.
Consider that Apple didn’t release a battery case of their own until 2015 even though it was a very popular accessory. Also bear in mind that they completely shelved the AirPower when they couldn’t get the issues with overheating and reliability sorted out. They won’t release a MagSafe battery back unless and until it’s fully ready.
I don’t think it will take Apple years to get a MagSafe battery pack out the door, but I wouldn’t expect one from them until this fall at the absolute earliest after the reports we’ve seen. I personally think it will be next year. Until then, a battery pack like Charge Fast’s and others that will most certainly follow will have to do.
Speaking of which, even though it does work at an acceptable level, I’m not overly impressed with the Charge Fast’s MagSafe Power Pack. It’s ok for a first try, but I’m sure it will be exceeded by other products that will come out in the near future, even if Apple holds off on releasing their own MagSafe battery pack.
I’m going to try another model that Charge Fast has released called the MagSafe Power Pack Air. This one doesn’t have any additional charging ports, so it’s thinner. It’s minimalist design also makes it look more at home on the back of an iPhone.
I am also going straight to the source this time, rather than an Amazon seller that rebrands their items, so I’m hoping the performance, especially when it comes to heat, is better. I’ll report back after I get it and give it a try. As for their original MagSafe Power Pack, I’m leaning toward returning it, but I’m going to wait and see how Charge Fast’s Air pack works first.