The MagSafe Battery Pack was introduced in July 2021. The battery pack can be attached to the back of any iPhone with MagSafe charging, including all iPhone 12 and 13 models. The product is designed “to quickly and safely wirelessly charge iPhone models with MagSafe, giving you more time to use your device.”
Apple describes the product:
“Attaching the MagSafe Battery Pack is a snap. Its compact, intuitive design makes on-the-go charging easy. The perfectly aligned magnets keep it attached to your iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro — providing safe and reliable wireless charging. And it automatically charges, so there’s no need to turn it on or off. There’s no interference with your credit cards or key fobs either.”
Like other Apple charging products of the time, they do not function out of the box and require a charging brick that is sold separately. Since so many charging bricks are available, the topic of charging the charger can be confusing and requires a full tech support document that states, “your MagSafe Battery Pack can charge your iPhone with up to 5W of power. If connected to a 20W or higher power source, it can charge with up to 15W of power.”
The MagSafe Battery Pack provides additional charge capacity to an iPhone based on the model and many other factors, including settings, usage, and environmental conditions. Apple specifies that the battery pack provides:
Up to 70% additional charge with iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 13 mini and MagSafe Battery Pack
Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 and MagSafe Battery Pack
Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro and MagSafe Battery Pack
Up to 40% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPhone 13 Pro Max and MagSafe Battery Pack
The MagSafe Battery Pack is the exact width of the iPhone 12/13 mini (with matching curved corners) so it fits all models of the iPhone 12/ 13, iPhone Pro 12/13 and iPhone Pro Max 12/13.
Although the product is referred to on the Apple website and on the bottom of the package as the “MagSafe Battery Pack,” the front of the package identifies it as an “iPhone Battery Pack MageSafe” and the “iPhone Battery Pack” on the back.
Apple’s MagSafe Duo Charger is a compact, square-shaped charger for the iPhone (or other Qi-certified devices) and the Apple Watch. According to Apple: “The MagSafe Duo Charger conveniently charges your compatible iPhone, Apple Watch, Wireless Charging Case for AirPods, and other Qi-certified devices. Just place your devices on the charger and a steady, efficient charge begins on contact. The charger folds together neatly so you can easily take it with you wherever you go.”
The charger ships with the MagSafe Duo Charger and a 1 m USB-C to Lightning Cable, but no charging brick. Therefore, the MagSafe Duo Charger does not charge out of the box without pairing it with an existing plug.
An Apple Support article specifies that “Your MagSafe Duo Charger is designed to work with all iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, all Apple Watch models, Apple MagSafe accessories, and Qi-certified devices and accessories.” The article goes on to state that you should “Use the included USB-C to Lightning cable to plug in your MagSafe Duo Charger to a recommended 20 watt (W) or greater Apple USB-C power adapter,” but the “Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter isn’t compatible with the MagSafe Duo Charger.”
The Apple Watch charging side “…can charge your Apple Watch in a flat position with its band open, or on its side, by lifting the inductive charging connector. When docked on its side, your Apple Watch automatically goes into nightstand mode, so you can also use it as your alarm clock.”
Shortly after I received my iPhone 13 Pro that included several new impressive camera upgrades, I wondered if the iPhone camera system had yet improved to the point that it could meet or exceed my Nikon D3500 for my Apple collection photography. While I am by no means a professional-level photographer, I have captured tens of thousands photos of my Apple hardware and collectibles over the past few years, and then edited and posted the results here on my Apple Collection website and blog.
Nearly all the photos on this website were captured with a Nikon D3500 with a basic lens. In fact, it took me about a year to learn how to use this camera—my first Digital SLR. I consulted several websites, a book, and YouTube videos to learn the many methods I now use regularly. I shoot the photos in my relatively low-cost home photography studio. While I originally set out to spend less than $100 on the lighting, backdrop, and table, I upgraded my lighting after two years to bring the total investment to about $150.
As an Apple Collector, I find the idea attractive to use an Apple camera to capture my Apple collection, but this has never been a goal. I decided to shoot photos of one collection item with both the iPhone 13 Pro and the Nikon D3500. The item selected was my recently purchased iPad Pro 11-inch with the M1 chip. The photo session includes the unboxing and the device.
Here’s what I learned.
At first, using the iPhone 13 Pro seemed more liberating than the Nikon D3500 because shooting with a phone seemed a bit more nimble than the larger camera. The iPhone screen is considerably larger than the Nikon’s viewfinder and display—and the iPhone shows a better representation of the subject in real time, especially when viewing the depth of field effects rendered with the iPhone 13 Pro.
I changed my mind when I started using the iPhone 13 Pro’s touted Macro features. As it turns out, when you get close to an object with the iPhone 13 Pro, the phone casts a shadow from the studio lights, making the photos nearly unusable without readjusting all my lighting. On the Nikon, I just twist to zoom the lens. While I generally don’t capture many Macro shots, I’d definitely consider adding more if it was easy to do so.
That being said, a few of the Macro shots I captured from the iPhone 13 Pro were impressive after a bit of light fussing.
Macro Lens Issue
When the initial reviews for the iPhone 13 Pro started getting posted, I read about one particular problem with incredulity—the issue of the iPhone camera switching frames when moving between the “regular” camera lens and the Macro lens. Very often, reviewers over-state issues as major problems that turn out to be very minor annoyances. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.
Reviewer Raymond Wong for inputmag.com states the issue well: “…if you have your iPhone 13 Pro camera set to the 1x wide camera and place an object or a subject within 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) of it, the viewfinder will maintain the 1x framing/composition but use the ultrawide’s close-range autofocusing in tandem. You can literally see the viewfinder flicker/pop and ‘switch’ to this hybrid viewfinder.”
In my experience, Mr. Wong may have understated this problem. When I attempted to frame my Macro shots, I moved the lens to the 2cm zone where I expected the Macro feature to engage, and the iPhone not only reframed my shot, but when the lens changed, I was unable to re-locate the part of the subject I wanted to capture.
How does this happen, you might ask?
If you are shooting, for instance, the overall texture of a surface, getting 2cm from the surface and having the camera system switch to a different lens is not much an issue since the surface you are shooting covers the area still viewable by all the camera lenses. However, if you are attempting to photograph a detail that’s just a few millimeters wide, getting the lens within 2cm and then having then lens switch to a different lens that’s about 2cm away, you have now lost your subject! Most of the time, I couldn’t find the subject again—AND the lenses kept switching as I was attempting to re-locate the subject.
IT WAS INFURIATING, but Apple claims to have a fix for this coming.
For both photo shoots, I used the exact same lighting comprised of my three lighting sources: two bright daylight CFL studio lighting bulbs behind a filter (the primary lighting source), two non-filtered daylight CFL studio lighting bulbs providing mostly indirect lighting on the white backdrop, and two LED bulbs providing a “wash” from below my white backdrop. I occasionally use these old LED Philips Hue bulbs to provide a color wash on the backdrop, but they mostly are set to a pure white to match the studio lighting bulbs.
Despite the fact that the lighting was exactly the same for both cameras, the iPhone 12 Pro photos delivered very inconsistent backgrounds compared to the Nikon D3500.
Far more concerning to me, the iPhone 13 Pro captured the light from the Hue bulbs differently in every shot. Although the bulbs are set to pure white, the iPhone somehow captured the cycling individual colors of the LED bulbs. One shot shows this in detail where the background shows color bands of yellow, pink, and blue in distinct stripes of color. At the same time, all lighting looked far darker on the iPhone 13 Pro.
When editing, the only way to remove these odd colorations was to either greatly desaturate the iPhone photos or switch them to black-and-white. To be fair, the Nikon is not blameless in casting odd colors. However, when the D3500 casts color, it is usually yellow—it has never delivered color bands or multiple color casts in the same photo.
Surprise and Delight
When I set out to try the iPhone 13 Pro camera, I was thinking about capturing photos, not using the other features offered by the iPhone 13 Pro and iOS 15. One particular feature truly surprised and delighted me: Live Text.
As I shot the packaging for the iPad 11 Pro, the iPhone’s new Live Text feature immediately “read” and displayed the text on the box—and interpreted the printed text perfectly. Since my collection includes mostly old Apple items that may no longer be online (or difficult to find), my sources are sometimes limited to what’s printed on a box or included in a manual. The iOS 15 Live Text feature allows me to capture a photo of any text and instantly have the ability to select, copy, and paste the text from my photo and use it in my accompanying blog post. Live Text will save countless hours in the future when photographing new items when only printed information is available.
Incidentally, Live Text also perfectly interpreted a printed serial number. I capture serial numbers for every item in my collection, and I dread doing so since they are generally difficult to read and prone to transposition errors. This will make the activity far more palatable.
I was not expecting to consider using Live Text, and the feature is exceptionally useful.
When comparing the photos from the two camera devices, the overall photo quality is the most important aspect of this exercise. I am surprised by the significant differences between the devices.
While the iPhone 13 Pro photos show an impressive sharpness, that sharpness appears unnatural to me. All the photos appear to use a mechanical-looking pixel pattern compared to the more natural look of the Nikon. The unnatural pixelation is especially obvious in the Macro shots.
Overall, my opinion is that the Nikon D3500 photos look better than the iPhone 13 Pro photos.
I will continue to use the Nikon D3500 for my primary Apple Collection photography.
That being said, I will definitely reach for the iPhone 13 Pro when I want a Macro shot to add to my blog post. Similarly, when shooting older product packaging and/or manuals, I will use the iPhone’s Live Text features to grab the text so I don’t have to retype it.
Overall, this verdict is neither surprising nor disappointing to me. I have always had a “pick the right tool for the job” mindset, and this situation is no different.
To see the “official” photo shoot for the iPad Pro 11 (2021) in my collection, please see this post. The photos I captured with the iPhone 13 Pro are shown below in this post.
Sincere thanks to my friend Sid for suggesting this comparison! I learned a lot here.
The iPhone 13 Pro was released in 2021 and featured upgrades to the previous iPhone 12 models, mostly in camera technology and battery life. Its display used a 6.1-inch (diagonal) Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion (2532-by-1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi).
Upon release, the iPhone 13 Pro used Apple’s then-current A15 Bionic chip and included a 12MP camera system with three cameras: Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide. The cameras allowed 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, and 6x optical zoom range with a digital zoom up to 15x. This iPhone added the ability for “Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps).” It also added the ability to capture Macro photography:
“With its redesigned lens and powerful autofocus system, the new Ultra Wide camera can focus at just 2 cm — making even the smallest details seem epic. Transform a leaf into abstract art. Capture a caterpillar’s fuzz. Magnify a dewdrop. The beauty of tiny awaits.”
For the first time, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offered identical technical specifications—previous Pro Max models offered additional technical capabilities over the smaller Pro model. However, the Pro Max offered slightly longer battery life (due to its increased size), and a larger screen.
The iPhone 13 Pro measured 2.82 inches wide, 5.78 inches high, and 0.30 inch deep. It weighed 7.19 ounces. The size and weight specifications made the phone slightly larger and heavier than its iPhone 12 predecessors.
Apple marketed the iPhone 13 Pro with the following headlines:
“A dramatically more powerful camera system. A display so responsive, every interaction feels new again. The world’s fastest smartphone chip. Exceptional durability. And a huge leap in battery life. Let’s Pro.”
Further, well over half of the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max main web page was devoted to new camera and video features.
The iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max was offered in four colors including Sierra Blue, Silver, Gold, and Graphite. Capacities included 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and (for the first time in an iPhone) 1TB—an option that cost $500 over the price of the base model.
The iPhone 13 Pro Clear Case with MagSafe was designed for the iPhone 13 Pro to provide a case that was “Thin, light, and easy to grip…” and to highlight the “brilliant colored finish of iPhone 13 Pro while providing extra protection.” Although the case had no seams, it used a “combination of materials including optically clear polycarbonate and flexible materials.”
The built-in MagSafe allowed the iPhone’s MagSafe capabilities to extend through the case and function optimally with charging and accessories. Apple described the experience as:
“…magical attach experience and faster wireless charging, every time. When it’s time to charge, just leave the case on your iPhone and snap on your MagSafe charger, or set it on your Qi-certified charger.”
This example here is shown along with the iPhone 13 Pro in Sierra Blue.
Apple’s 30W USB-C Power Adapter may be used to charge and/or power iPhone, iPad, and Mac models that use a USB-C port or Lighting cable with a USB-C plug. Apple describes the adapter:
“The Apple 30W USB‑C Power Adapter offers fast, efficient charging at home, in the office, or on the go. While the power adapter is compatible with any USB‑C–enabled device, Apple recommends pairing it with the 13-inch MacBook Air with Retina display for optimal charging performance. You can also pair it with select iPhone and iPad Pro models to take advantage of the fast-charging feature.”
The iPhone 4 represented a major design leap from the previous iPhone models. The iPhone 4 used an all stainless steel body, a 3.5-inch Retina display at 960×640 (326 ppi), a chemically hardened “aluminosilcate” over the front display, and a chemically hardened glass back.
A white option of the iPhone 4 was announced, but it did not ship for over a year after the announcement. Engadget (and other news sites) reported that manufacturing problems were the cause of the white iPhone 4 delays. Specifically, the factory in China took more time than expected to work out “the perfect combination of paint thickness and opacity.”
The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone with dual front and back cameras: a 5 megapixel HD video/still camera (720p at 30 FPS), a 5X digital zoom, and an LED flash on the rear; and a VGA-quality video/still camera on the front designed for video conferencing over Wi-Fi using FaceTime. Both cameras used noise-cancelling microphones.
The iPhone 4 was powered by an A4 processor and added additional mobile network support. It included a digital compass, GPS, an accelerometer, and a new 3-axis gyroscope.
The iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe was designed for the iPhone 12 line and used Apple’s MagSafe connector to attach to the back of any iPhone 12 model (iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max). Apple described the Leather Wallet:
“Designed with both style and function in mind, the iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe is the perfect way to keep your ID and credit cards close at hand. Crafted from specially tanned and finished European leather, the wallet features strong built-in magnets that allow it to effortlessly snap into place on the back of your iPhone. You can even stack it on top of a clear, silicone, or leather case with MagSafe to create a look that’s unique to you. The leather wallet supports up to three cards and is shielded so it’s safe for credit cards.”
The photos include shots of the Leather Wallet working with the iPhone 12 Pro Max Clear Case with MagSafe. When Apple iPhone 12 Cases with MagSafe are attached, the iPhone shows an animation to verify the MagSafe connection has been made (and the animation matches the color of the case). The Leather Wallet does not cause an iPhone response when attached, but the iPhone makes a sound when it is detached.
The original iPhone SE (Special Edition) was released along with the larger iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Many users preferred the smaller size of this phone and its flat sides that used the same design as the iPhone 5s.
The original iPhone SE’s exterior differed from the iPhone 5s in its finishes, including four colors, and matte (instead of shiny) edges. Colors for the iPhone SE included Silver (white glass front and a silver aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail); Space Gray (black glass front and a gunmetal gray aluminum sides and back with a black top and bottom detail); Gold (white glass front and a gold aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail); and Rose Gold (white glass front and a pink-tinted gold aluminum sides and back with a white top and bottom detail).
The original iPhone SE used a 4-inch Retina display (1136×640 at 326 ppi). Its two cameras included a rear 12-megapixel iSight camera with a True Tone flash and a front 1.2-megapixel 720p FaceTime camera.
A Touch ID fingerprint sensor was embedded in the Home button of the iPhone SE. It used Apple’s A9 processor and was available with 16, 32, 64, or 128 GB storage. Wireless connections included 4G/LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC (Apple Pay). Wired connections included a headphone jack and a Lightning connector.
The iPhone SE would become the first iPhone name to be later reused (in April 2020) in a completely different design.
The iPhone Lightning Dock was a minimalist charging dock with a heavy base, protruding angled Lightning connector, and two ports on the back, including a Lightning port for charging and an audio jack to allow music to be played on a speaker or headphones while the iPhone charged.
The iPhone Lightning Dock was available in several colors, including white, black, silver, space gray, rose gold, gold, and “new” gold (to match an updated gold iPhone color). This example is space gray.
Apple described the Dock:
“You can use it to charge and sync any iPhone that has a Lightning connector. Your iPhone sits upright in the dock as it syncs or charges, so it’s ideal for a desk or countertop. Even when your iPhone is in an Apple-designed case, it’s easy to dock. And you can unlock iPhone or use Touch ID without having to remove it from the dock.”
Although this Dock will also charge an iPad, its size and weight make it too unstable for everyday use. However, I sometimes use this Dock to photograph iPad devices in my collection since its minimal design and slight angle works well as a temporary display base.