Like a lot of people, I was swept up with some of the hype coming out of the iPhone event on 13th October. Some of that being the new MagSafe accessories.

In the new iPhone 12, Apple has added a ring of magnets inside the back, along with a thin vertical one just below. It then introduced some new accessories that you can use to take advantage of this new magnet array. It was all done in Apple’s very cool, visually stylistic way:

The accessories were a charger, some cases, a leather sleeve and a wallet.

As someone who is quite minimalist and already has a tiny card wallet, the MagSafe wallet immediately caught my eye. At £60 it wasn’t cheap, but then this is Apple, so let’s not feign surprise.

I’ve had just over a week with the wallet, so here’s my thoughts on it and a cheaper alternative I found on Amazon. This also gives us a little look at how well third parties will take advantage of this new system.

build

As I said, this wallet is not cheap. Luckily, the build quality is excellent. Apple doesn’t say what sort of leather it is, but it feels very high quality. It’s smooth, flat, without imperfections and immaculately stitched. It’s very nice.

You can fit 1-3 standard credit cards inside. You might be able to squeeze in four if they are cards without raised numbers but best to aim for three max.

What’s clever, and again speaks to Apple’s talent for product design and sweating the small stuff, is the way the cards are held. I haven’t cut it open to see exactly how, but there seems to be some sort of flexible wedge inside the base of the wallet. This allows the wallet to hold one card as easily as three.

Finally, my favourite part, it’s thin! I’m someone who just carries around my driving license for ID purposes and my bank card as a back up in case I can’t use Apple Pay. That’s it. If I’m going to a gallery or my local cinema, I’ll grab the appropriate membership card from home as an extra. My existing wallet is still pretty thin, but due to some double folding of the leather, it’s thicker than the MagSafe wallet.

MagSafe

This is what we’re all here for, right?

The magnets are inside the back of the wallet and shielded from your cards, so you don’t destroy the mag stripes. I’ve also got the MagSafe charger, and this doesn’t have the same ‘snap’ power when attaching. The magnets are of course behind the leather, so I’m guessing that’s why, but it, unfortunately, renders them slightly weaker when attached to the iPhone.

Whether it’s too weak depends on your usage. If you’re wanting something that will firmly stick to your iPhone without becoming dislodged, you will probably be disappointed. If you are wanting a wallet that can quickly and frequently be removed and attached as you use it, this is a good solution. You will find that over the course of a busy day it may occasionally become dislodged or rotate slightly on the back while in your pocket. However, this can easily be fixed with a little nudge.

It also seems like Apple intended it this way too. The fact that you cannot remove the cards easily from the front and you have to take it off, turn it over and push up through the hole on the back suggests Apple realised the magnets weren’t ever going to be strong enough. So they then designed it this way to encourage you to remove it and not expect it to be permanently attached.

a cheaper alternative

Part of the pitch with this new MagSafe system is that it leaves it open for third parties to develop their own accessories. Many are already bringing some out, and others have promised some in the future from mounts to camera rigs. It remains to be seen how well these work.

I saw on Amazon that a third party company, WALLFID, was selling MagSafe wallets and at £25, thought I’d get one to see how it matched up.

Long story short - it failed. Badly.

The problem with the WALLFID wallet is that they obviously haven’t adequately tested it. The magnets are cheap and so really weak. The leather is cheap and thin. The act of pushing the cards up from the back is stiff and cumbersome.

Everything about it says ‘cheap knock off’. While I’m sure we’ll get great third party MagSafe accessories from reputable makers, it shows that we should be aware of many substandard products that use the MagSafe name.

worth it?

Overall I would say yes. For me.

As an accessory, it works ok. I would have preferred the magnets stronger, but that’s my preference. It may not be yours, and it seems Apple is aware of the limitations.

In the end, why I love it so much is not so much the MagSafe capabilities but the build of the wallet itself. It’s beautifully made. It's even thinner than my already slim wallet. It holds my two cards perfectly. It feels great to hold and use.

While I may not use it every single day attached to my iPhone, I will be using it at least as a wallet every day. I really like it, just not for the key reasons it was intended.

Is that a win? Er... yes?