Hacking A MagSafe Connector For Your IPhone


The MagSafe power connector for Apple MacBooks is probably one of the handiest features they developed — we’re not too sure why it hasn’t been integrated onto iPhones yet. [Tony Hoang] isn’t sure either, but that didn’t stop him making his very own!

Due to the size of the MagSafe adapter, it’s simply not possible to integrate it directly into an iPhone, so [Tony] took his trusty Otter-box case and modified it instead. He’s using a Qi wireless charging receiver on the inside of the case, because it has a very slim ribbon cable to the USB. Modifying that he was able to solder on the MagSafe adapter directly to the ribbon cable. In order for it to fit nicely through the case, he 3D printed an adapter bracket for it to stay nice and secure.

From there it was just a matter of soldering the MagSafe power cable onto a 5V USB power brick, and boom-bada-bing, he’s got a MagSafe compatible iPhone. Previously he’s done this mod to a Samsung Note II, and plenty of other people have added it to laptops and ultrabooks!

23 thoughts on “Hacking A MagSafe Connector For Your IPhone

  1. Definitely a nice hack. Good job. But it seems silly to me to take a wireless charger and make it wired. It would be like hacking wifi routers to use ethernet cables only.

  2. It’s a well done hack, that’s for sure!

    Putting aside the cannibalizing of a wireless charger to make a wired one (ostensibly with the purpose of providing safely against fixed-wired connections… o.O), the reason that it hasn’t been done isn’t really due to the size, but the magnetic force.

    The idea behind the magsafe adapter is that if you trip on your power cord, the laptop weighs enough that the magnetic force can’t move the laptop, and it disconnects instead of smashing your $1500 laptop to the ground or breaking the power connector (with the same net result – useless laptop).

    The phone doesn’t have enough weight to make this effective. Trip over the magsafe cable and you’re still going to smash your phone to the ground (but at least it’s in an otterbox now so it’ll be safe when that happens!). Ironically if it had been left wireless charging then it wouldn’t fall to the ground…

    So it’s kinda like strapping on armour that allows you to fall down the stairs without getting hurt, but without the armour you wouldn’t be falling down the stairs in the first place :-P

    1. That magsafe somehow is better than a standard barrel power connector for this is largely a myth. I just tested tugging on my notebook power cord (UX51VZ with barrel connector) and compared to a magsafe2 connector and cord. The barrel connector disconnects cleanly without moving the notebook while the magsafe2 require more force to disconnect which would move the notebook (yes, tested) however still not be enough to send it crashing.
      Many UX51VZ owners think that the power connector is faulty when it is working as intended as they are used to a very tight fit. Another manufacturer (or ex manufacturer sadly) of notebook computers with tug tolerant barrel style power connector was Sony.

      However it isn’t likely that the disconnection feature not working is the reason Apple choose not to add them to their phones – that the device connector have powerful magnets is. The likelihood of something metallic attaching to the power connector is much higher on a device carried in a pocket…

      1. Pill at a angle, like if you would trip over a cable. The MagSafe will disconnect more easy, vs a straight pull. A barrel jack won’t disconnect at a 30 dergree angle.

          1. A 2 piece connector adds the problem of needing to keep track of the tiny intermediate cable between the power cord and your device. Lose that tiny cable…and your charger is useless.

        1. Well I _did_ the test trying to emulate tripping. If one pulls the cable straight out both the magsafe and the barrel connector require much more power to disconnect than pulling it downwards. If one instead pulls horizontally forward or backward both the magsafe and the barrel connector require enough force that any reasonable portable computer will crash onto the floor. Tugging the cable upwards makes the magsafe disconnect cleanly while the barrel connector doesn’t – however one would need to have a very convoluted workspace for this to be a real advantage.

          There is no free meal though, the barrel style connector requires a flexible attachment which makes it easier to accidentally disconnect the power. The UX51VZ warns if the connector is partially inserted so the designers was aware of this problem.

      2. The magsafe connector provides a wider range of ‘yankable’ angles. Objectively better? No, but I’ve re-soldered enough power jacks to see where it would be useful.

  3. There is one enormous drawback of magsafe, which i point out every time someone with a macbook gets in my face about it.

    Try using your macbook in an environment where small iron filings or iron dust accumulates, such as near a metal workshop of any kind. Over time the computer would accumulate enough iron filings to make the connector stop working, and it would be a small hell to clean metal filings out of a recessed neodymium magnet….

    1. You’ll get your patent, but of course no-one says it has to work.

      Problem #1: Curie temperature for neodymium magnets is around 1000C (over 2000F).

      Problem #2: Neodymium magnet lose all of their magnetism when heated to their Curie point, unlike other magnets they don’t ‘recover’. Happily they’ll lose most of their force at lower temperatures (eg boiling water), but again that loss is permanent.

      God luck!

  4. I’m sure if Apple decides to make a Mag-safe connector for the iphone, they’ll be sure to make it incompatible with any other connector in the marketplace, inclulding their own.

  5. What the world needs is a MagSafe-like connector for Ethernet. The telephone-like one were’s stuck with now must date from the 1970s and the IP staff of that era seem to deliberately chosen it to be something that’d be a pain for the average computer user to disconnect.

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