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Apple MagSafe Duo Charger Evaluation: Helpful, however costly and unconvincing

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In addition to the new iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, I was able to try out the new MagSafe Duo charger from Apple. It's a collapsible dual travel charger that can accommodate both an iPhone with MagSafe and an Apple Watch with its more traditional magnetic charger.

It works? Yes, works exactly as stated. Your iPhone sits comfortably on the MagSafe side of the charger and is aligned using the internal magnets. The Apple Watch side folds out for easy access for closed-loop bands. The entire unit folds down for easy travel and even folds backwards when you don't need one side or the other. It sure works.

But this fold is where we begin to get to the dubious things. For context, understand that this thing costs $ 129, but it should be $ 70. When you find it is a charger is delivered without power supplyI wouldn't be shocked if you mentally downgraded it to $ 40. The charger comes with a Lighting-to-USB-C cable. This cable assumes you have a USB-C power brick, which in my opinion is not yet generally true. However, the Lightning connector on the charger itself ensures that you can use it with any existing Lightning charger cable.

The hinge and the housing are coated with soft-touch rubber that is pressed on. While the hinge works fine, it is wobbly and instantly wrinkles. The gum is thick enough not to look like it'll snap right away or something – but it's not exactly trustworthy. This is an affordable hinge solution that you would expect from a budget-conscious third-party accessory, not Apple.

Since the whole thing is pressed, there is also this ridge that runs around the outside of the device. It has a basic seal, but you can see the layers of lamination if you look closely. It looks ripe to steal, fray, bend, and get dirty. Not good for something to be thrown in a bag.

White is a bad choice here too; mine is getting grubby and I can't even travel anywhere right now.

The thing charges sufficiently quickly and the devices click into place nicely. The charging part of the watch feels the highest quality with its sleek little chrome hinge. The MagSafe Pad and the Watch charger are made of Apple's typical, beautifully blasted aluminum, and the whole thing has a decent weight. For what it's worth, I couldn't test whether an Apple Watch and an iPhone would quickly charge at the same time using the 20W power adapter. I will try to update this review with this information.

Of course, since the iPhone side is magnetic, you have the MagSafe advantage of being able to pick up the phone when it's connected. However, this is more cumbersome when it's a large charger than when it's a slim MagSafe puck on the back of your phone. Good for a quick alarm check in your hotel.

But I'm sorry to say that after the hype about AirPower and its subsequent demise, I find it a little overwhelming. Apple may have been planning this thing all along trying to make AirPower a reality, but the arc of that story that lands on this device is a sad trumpet indeed.

The MagSafe Duo works and there are some technical bright spots. However, you won't feel like it is worth the money buying the $ 129 charger and the $ 19 20W power brick that comes with it.

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Katherine Clark