If you own an iPhone, you might have experienced this inevitable tragedy: the charging cable breaks over time and usage. It’s an issue that has been around for so long that Apple users have kind of made amends with it.
Apple recently released its new iPhones—the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro—to everyone and along with it, comes a new MagSafe charger. It’s like an enlarged wireless Apple Watch charging puck that sticks to the back of your iPhone magnetically and detaches just as easily. And even though it’s different from a lightning cable, I think its cable could break sooner.
Look, the reason why your lightning cable breaks over time is because of rough usage. The feeling of carefulness that comes along with a new iPhone—and by extension, the lightning cable—only stays for a couple of days after which, you start twisting, bending, rolling, and tugging the original cable. It exerts pressure on the ends with connections which eventually leads to them fraying.
Wireless chargers solve that problem. Since you are placing the phone on the charger and not moving the charger much, its cables aren’t being subjected to physical stress. That’s a good thing. But it also severely limits the ability to use your phone while it’s charging since it requires proper alignment of coils between the phone and the charger.
This is where Apple’s new iPhone accessory, the MagSafe charger, fits in. It solves one problem but reinforces another. Since it’s a wireless charger that magnetically attaches to the back of your phone, it allows more flexibility while also making it easier to charge your phone as compared to using the lightning plug. However, since you’re now picking and popping it to the back of your iPhone, it affects its cable.
The MagSafe wireless charger comes with a non-removable cable, and the connecting end near the wireless charging plate is thin enough to fray just like other cables from Apple. It would’ve been just fine if it had a stronger cable. However, due to the way you may usually disconnect the MagSafe charger from your iPhone—holding it by the base of the wire beneath the charging plate—it can easily compromise the cable. Moreover, there’s a high chance you’re going to put it back in the same way, by holding the base of the wire.
This, again, would not be a potential issue if it was the lightning cable. But the charging puck on the MagSafe wireless charger is too heavy, in comparison, to be held by the base of the cable. And most people will be holding it that way.
It’s got to do with Apple’s hierarchy of power. Apple’s charging cables are unlike others. They are sleek, streamlined, and do not sport any engravings. This is a design choice that could’ve only emerged from Apple, and it relates to how Apple’s hierarchy is set up internally.
According to an ex-Apple employee, among the different teams over at Apple, the industrial design team is considered more important. And since the industrial design team hates cables with “strain relief,” the cables do not sport one, making them less reliable over the long run.
“I’m sure that the Engineering division gave every reason in the world why a strain relief should be on an adapter cable, and Customer Service said how bad the customer experience would be if tons of adapters failed, but if industrial design doesn’t like a strain relief, guess what, it gets removed,” the former Apple employee said on Reddit.
This is likely the same principle that Apple applied to its MagSafe wireless charger. It has a similarly sized cable that seems just as privy to breaking under bends and stressful conditions.
How to prevent your MagSafe wireless charger’s cable from breaking?
Since it’s such a widespread issue and Apple won’t do anything to fix it anytime soon, people have come up with their own solutions. The simplest (and cheapest) of those is to rip out a string from a pen and swirl it into the end of the cable where there’s a chance of breaking.
Of course, you can also not buy all of these things and simply use the wireless charger with care, which, let’s be real, isn’t practical.
Currently, there aren’t many cheap third-party MagSafe compatible wireless chargers available, but if you’ve got one that’s frayed beyond repair, your only choice is to buy Apple’s original MagSafe charger again. It costs $39 and is available on both Amazon and Apple.
The MagSafe charger feels like a transitory product that will usher the iPhone into a completely wireless age, where the iPhone probably won’t have a single port. While it’s going to be a while until the transition completes, you should know that cables are inevitable.
Currently, there isn’t any evidence that MagSafe cables break. But it’s too soon to say. However, the way it’s designed doesn’t offer any consolation to my fear that its cables, too, will break over time and I’ll have to spend $39 once again.
Earlier this year, it was rumored that Apple would include a braided cable in the box as per leaked images. Now that the iPhone 12 lineup is out, there is no braided cable inside. But, I hope Apple’s design team makes the right decision and switches to braided cables, even on the MagSafe wireless charger.