Aukey’s magnetic iPhone 12 charger costs half what Apple’s does [Review]

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Say goodbye to plugging in Lightning cables with the Aukey Aircore 15W. Touch this wireless charger to the back of an iPhone 12 and it’ll cling there, juicing up the battery.

I tested this low-cost accessory in real-world conditions. Here how it handled.

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Aukey Aircore 15W review

The Aukey Aircore 15W takes advantage of the MagSafe system in the iPhone 12 series. Apple added magnets to the phone to align the charging coils. This also allows the charger to cling to the handset because it has matching magnets.

Aukey’s product looks a lot like Apple’s MagSafe Charger puck. But the less expensive third-party version can’t power up the handset as quickly.

Hardware and design

The Aircore 15W is a disk that’s 0.37 inches across and 0.25 in. thick. This sits at the end of a 3.93 foot (1.2m) USB-C cable. It does not come with a USB-C wall power adapter.

A comparison with the design of Apple’s puck is inevitable. The Aukey charger is slightly larger, it has a plastic casing, and comes in either black or white. Apple’s version looks somewhat more professional because it’s aluminum, but the single color option is white. It doesn’t come with a wall power adapter, either.

The magnets in the Aircore do their job very well. I can hang the iPhone from the charger’s cable and the two won’t come apart. And the magnets easily line the charging coils up exactly, just as they were designed to do.

Because of where the iPhone 12 Lightning port is, the charging cable interferes with holding the handset in landscape mode. That’s not a problem with the Aircore. Its cable can point any direction you find convenient, so you can play games while charging the device.

This accessory works best with Apple’s latest handsets, but it’s not limited to them. I tested it with other Qi devices and it powered them up. Just don’t expect Aukey’s product to cling to them magnetically.

Aukey Aircore 15W with Apple MagSafe Charger
The Aukey Aircore 15W has a lot in common with the Apple’s official MagSafe Charger.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Aukey Aircore 15W performance

The “15W” in this product’s name might confuse iPhone users. But, as Aukey notes on the product pages, “This model does NOT charge iPhone series at 15W.”

The confusion comes because the MagSafe system does support 15W charging. And Apple’s MagSafe puck can power an iPhone 12 that quickly. Let’s see how these two facts play out in real life.

In my hands-on tests, the Aircore was able to bring an iPhone 12’s battery level from 0% to 22% (on average) in half an hour. It reached 43% after an hour. For comparison, the official Apple MagSafe Charger increased the same handset from 0% to 33% (on average) in half an hour, and to 61% after an hour.

So the third-party charger can charge an iPhone 12 fairly quickly. But not as quickly an the Apple version.

To be clear, Aukey isn’t doing false advertising. The Aircore 15W can charge Androids at 15 watts. Just not any current iPhone.

Aukey Aircore 15W final thoughts

I really enjoy the convenience of clip-on wireless charging with my iPhone 12. Plugging and unplugging a Lightning cable isn’t onerous, but magnetic attachment is easier, especially over the long term. Charging while gaming is a real benefit for me.

The Aukey Aircore 15W is a relatively low-cost way to start taking advantage of the MagSafe system. It’s built well, despite the budget price.

The offical Apple MagSafe puck charges faster but it also costs a lot more.

Pricing

Aukey sells the Aircore 15W through Amazon. The regular price is $18.99, but a 20% discount is available at the time of this writing, dropping the cost to $15.19.

Alternatively, Apple’s MagSafe Charger is $39 on Amazon, though it’s currently $5 off.

Aukey provided Cult of Mac with review units for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.

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