Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone 12 family fittingly shined a spotlight on 5G — not a surprise given the amount of hype and investment dollars that have been poured into the next-generation wireless technology. While 5G continues to mature into the technological foundation for countless innovations, however, it’s the low-profile MagSafe feature that may offer consumers the most immediate impact.

It’s almost sacrilege for me to write that 5G still needs to time to develop. After all, I’ve been covering the potentially game-changing nature of 5G since 2015, when I first wrote about Verizon’s intention to field-test the super-fast cellular technology. But the truth is that initial deployments don’t represent huge boosts in speed.

MagSafe, on the other hand, offers some tangible benefits regardless of where you live or whether you’re near the right cell tower. MagSafe charges faster than previous iPhones, bringing it on par with the quick charge that Android phones have long enjoyed. And, as dumb as this sounds, there’s something cool about watching your phone snap into place, visual confirmation that you didn’t fumble the placement of your device.

“There’s no more guessing where the sweet spot is,” said Ramon Llamas, an analyst with IDC.

MagSafe has its own long-term potential. The magnetic pins on the back of the phone harken back to other attempts to push an ecosystem of attachments, from Motorola’s Moto Mods to the Essential Phone PH-1’s modular camera. Neither of those companies moved enough phones — the Essential, in particular, was an outright flop — to really interest many accessory makers to take risks on bold ideas. Most of the time, we got extra battery packs.

Apple’s scale changes everything.

Paving the way

Apple’s enormous reach — Strategy Analytics estimates it will sell 180 million units next year — means a potentially huge market for anyone looking to build MagSafe accessories. The opportunity is particularly rich for anyone looking at attachments beyond the basic wireless charging stand. Think game controllers, camera grips, selfie sticks and, yes, wireless charging battery packs that could change the way we hold or interact with an iPhone.

“We can’t wait to see the innovative way that others will use MagSafe, creating a robust and ever expanding ecosystem,” Deniz Teoman, vice president of hardware systems engineering at Apple, said in the Apple presentation on Tuesday.

That isn’t hyperbole. Apple has a way of popularizing and legitimizing tech trends, from mobile payments to wireless charging. Where Motorola and Essential fell short, Apple could popularize the notion of magnetic attachments.

Apple itself filed a patent for a folio case with additional power supply and the ability to charge AirPods, according to Patently Apple. While those patents don’t always yield products in the real world, they’re an indication of where the company may go in the future.

Phone accessory maker Belkin , meanwhile, has already unveiled two MagSafe accessories, a charging stand that can handle an iPhone 12, Apple Watch and Apple Airpods, along with a more conventional car mount. Steve Malony, senior vice president of Belkin, said the initial products were more “bread and butter” when compared to future accessories on the roadmap.

Read more: https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-12s-magsafe-is-the-sleeper-feature-thats-a-bigger-deal-than-you-think/

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