iPhone 12 mini shows not all new MagSafe is equal

The Apple MagSafe system keeps revealing tidbits of functionality and features – and they're not all good. A support document for the MagSafe Charger was updated this week to show how it'll function differently depending on the device to which it is attached. If it is connected to an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max, it'll run with 15W peak power delivery. If it is connected to an iPhone 12 Mini, the MagSafe Charger maxes out at 12W peak power delivery.

Here's why this matters very little

The battery in the iPhone 12 Mini is smaller than the battery in the iPhone 12/Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The speed at which a charger delivers power (as shown in the recently updated support document) has to do with the percentage of the battery's capacity which is full. The smart power delivery systems in play today came into play at the same time as "fast charging" for smartphones and tablets and earbuds and such, over the past few years.

If we only had fast charging and did not have smart charging, our potential for disaster would be much larger than it is today. As a battery gets closer to full capacity, smart charging systems lower the speed at which power is allowed to flow. As the battery reaches full capacity, charging is slowed greatly, then (ideally) stopped altogether.

When it comes to a smartphone battery as small as those included with the iPhone 12 mini (and even the iPhone 12/Pro), the difference between 12W and 15W charging is relatively small.

The iPhone 12 Mini is said (by regulatory filings and teardowns) to contain a 2227mAh battery. The iPhone 12/Pro was shown to have a 2815mAh battery. There's a 588mAh difference in battery size between the two.

The difference between 13W and 15W charging on devices with battery sizes that are less than 600mAh different from one another is negligible. All of our tests with 13W vs 15W chargers released over the past couple of years suggested that the difference in same-size devices was a matter of minutes – with time-to-charge differences not even so significant as an hour.

Where's the big difference?

The big difference in charge speed is in MagSafe VS otherwise standard Qi wireless chargers. If you're using a non-Apple Qi-standard wireless charger, your iPhone 12 Mini will fill with 7.5W peak power delivery. The difference between 7.5W charging and 13W charging CAN make all the difference, even when dealing with a battery as small as the unit inside the iPhone 12 Mini.

The real shame here is that the iPhone 12 Mini is capable of 13W fast charging speeds, but said speeds are locked to Apple's MagSafe brand wireless charging standard.