What case for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and what is MagSafe useful for?

After an agonizing two-day post-order wait, an iPhone 12 Pro Max has arrived from Verizon. My main interest in this new phone is the purportedly improved camera (the super wide “0.5x” camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max was especially bad, with terrible corner and edge sharpness).

Do any of the early adopters have a case recommendation? I’m interested in (a) protecting the camera lenses from being scratched while in my pocket, and (b) making it more secure to grip the camera (a slightly soft silicone case would therefore be good).

Finally, what is MagSafe useful for? It is supposedly a “wireless charging” system that requires connecting the phone to a wire? This could be considered an innovation in the English language, but how is it a useful innovation technologically? If I have to attach a wire with a magnetic connector to the back of the phone, can’t I just as easily attach a Lightning cable to what we would have called the “female” connector in the phone back in the pre-LGBTQIA+ days?

(I don’t have Apple DouchePods nor an Apple Watch, which I understand both interact somehow with MagSafe.)

From Union Square, last week, a toilet for the homeless with a billboard for the new $1,000+ phones in the background. Social Justice, California-style:

37 thoughts on “What case for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and what is MagSafe useful for?

  1. My case (for a lowly iPhone 7, but almost ready to upgrade after several generations!): https://www.quadlockcase.com/products/iphone-case-all-devices
    Seems expensive (although: Black Friday has a 30% off deal), but the array of attachments and accessories is unmatched, and they probably have a helicopter mount too. 😉 [was originally a Kickstarter project] I use it daily to snap onto the mount on my bike handlebars (have a mount on two different bikes). See: https://www.quadlockcase.com/collections/shop-mounts

  2. When it comes to keeping their mags safe, many prefer the Mag Storage Solutions 5.56 .223 MagHolder.


    Primarily the MagSafe you’re talking about is an advance over other wireless chargers that don’t keep the phone in place securely, and you don’t have to worry about wearing out the connector on the phone. I guess that’s the charm. It looks like the magnets are strong enough to keep the phone attached even if it’s dangling from the wire+charger. Which begs the question, if they’re that strong, wouldn’t they also pose a risk to any device with magnetic storage you keep it near?


    • The elite get rich through the government in America while everyone else suffers. This is what has been decided for us.

  3. Phil,
    I’ve been using an Otterbox Symmetry series case for my iPhone Xs. Thin, just the right amount of grip/friction, and Otterbox claims shock / drop protection.

  4. If you’ve ever used a Qi wireless charger, you’ve discovered it’s all too easy to not align the phone perfectly with the charger and end up with a depleted battery in the morning. The magnets in MagSafe, like the laptop charging connector that bore the same name, ensure perfect alignment. It is also more convenient than plugging in a connector, and is the base for an entire new series of accessories like car mounts, cases and wallets. Peak Design has a Kickstarter for something similar for other phones.

  5. When people carry phones in their pockets, pocket lint can get in the female connector port interfering with the connection. The connector area is also a weak point in terms of making the phone waterproof. To the extent that people plug wires peripherals into that port they can’t use their peripherals *while* charging the phone unless there’s some other way to get power in. Qi is becoming a universal standard built into, say, the counter at a Starbucks, where you can set down your phone to charge without needing a wired adapter plug for any particular device.

    The earliest phones had a tendency to slip off the earliest chargers and to be kinda finicky in terms of placement; MagSafe makes that experience somewhat nicer than it was.

    There seems to be trend in the direction of making phones a featureless slab with as few external connectors or buttons as possible. Fewer holes in the case means better drop-resistance and water-resistance.

  6. I have the 12 Pro Max and Apple’s magsafe connector and I like it. I can pick up the phone and look at it without breaking the power connection. I have another phone with wireless charging that just rests on top of the pad. If I want to pick it up for a second, I have to refiddle the positioning on the charger.

    • Patrick: But you could also pick up your phone and look at it if it were connected via Lightning. Are you sure this isn’t an Emperor’s New Clothes situation?

    • Also, if there are now magnets inside the phone, why doesn’t it mess up credit cards that are placed next to the phone (e.g., if you happen to have both the phone and a credit card in the same pocket)?

    • Apple claims their magnet IS strong enough to mess up weak rewritable magnetic strips like those used in a hotel room key (so that should be kept in a different pocket) but is NOT strong enough to mess up the strips used in a typical credit card, which are much more resistant to corruption.

      Random internet source says: “The magnetic strip on credit cards come in two varieties. The high-coercivity ones, like a typical credit card, require a field strength of somewhere around 4,000 gauss to demagnetize. The low-coercivity ones that are often re-written, like hotel keys or gift cards, require about 300 gauss.” ( https://www.kjmagnetics.com/blog.asp?p=magnetic-stripes )

    • Back in the Bad Old Days, an outfit like Tom’s Hardware – and maybe even C|Net – would take the time and effort to measure the strength of the magnets and publish an analysis on the effects on various things like credit cards and magnetic storage devices. But they’ve become more of a product-pimping website than an in-depth analysis website as the years have gone by, which is very sad indeed. The analysis we now get from tech. websites and sources like C|Net is a pale shadow of the things we used to read from them. Dumb it down, pimp the products, move on to the next one. It used to be better in the Bad Old Days.


  7. I use Apple leather cases – they are slim, fit phone well, reasonably protect, nice to hold, look nice.

    • Alex (in your Chinese “Zhang” guise): Do you have a source for your theory that workers in China are “slaves” any more than workers in the U.S.? (Malcolm X, incidentally, and his friends back in the old days, referred to a job as “a slave”)

    • @Philg: I’m not sure that making them in the United States would necessarily be any better – probably not as efficient or proficient, but there’s evidence that Foxconn workers kill themselves. And I think it would at least be helpful if Apple placed a mark on their products to recognize where they are made – including the leather pouches and straps. We used to see that, on lots of products: “Made in Japan”…”Made in Taiwan”…”Made in Bangladesh”… etc., etc.

      But none of the Apple products I’ve seen that look so attractive to people in C|Net videos and in Apple stores and the Apple website, talk about where their products are made. They should. If Americans can put “Made in the USA” on their Mag Storage Solutions products, Apple should at least give some public recognition to the people who assemble their phones and stitch together their leather credit card pouches. At least a small stamp or mark: “Made in China.”



    • The claim “there’s evidence that Foxconn workers kill themselves” is nonsense on stilts.

      At the time of the big “Foxconn suicides” story, the company had about a million employees in China – more than the population of Wyoming – including ~350,000 in the “Foxconn City” location that did the most Apple contract work. Doing the math, even in the brief (few years) period when there was an identifiable rash of suicides (a dozen or so) their suicide RATE appeared to be LOWER than the general suicide rate of the Chinese populace at large, lower than the suicide rate of (similar-age) Chinese students, lower than the general suicide rate of Americans and much lower the suicide rate of (similar age) American college students.

      If Foxconn was doing something wrong that year, US colleges and US states and China were doing something even MORE wrong. Foxconn was plausibly making those employees lives’ BETTER than not working there with respect to suicide risk. And the company has since improved things even more, and the situation didn’t recur.

    • @Glen Raphael: So you’re saying the book is all lies and the people who wrote it don’t know what they’re talking about, and it’s nothing anyone should worry about. OK, that’s fine too. But why doesn’t Apple manufacture more of its products in the United States? American workers in lots of places around the country would jump at the chance to have steady jobs manufacturing products for Apple, so why don’t they try to balance it a little and employ some Americans here?

    • @Glen Raphael: And if conditions are so awesome in China, why not put a mark on the products so that people can share their pride with the workers who made them? At least let American consumers know where the products riding around in their pockets and purses are made? That doesn’t take very much.

    • @Alex:
      “So you’re saying the book is all lies and the people who wrote it don’t know what they’re talking about”

      No, the book is perfectly accurate in claiming there was a very small rash of suicides back around 2010 after which the company set up suicide counseling hotlines and encouraged people to call them and put up barriers to make suicide harder and just generally did…all the things one might expect a responsible company to do. It was a brief, one-time issue of negligible global or even local importance blown up by clickbait doom-mongers, some of whom were merely exaggerating a bit (this book’s authors) and some of whom (eg, Mike Daisey) were outright lying for dramatic purposes.


      “OK, that’s fine too. But why doesn’t Apple manufacture more of its products in the United States?”

      China has massive economies of scale in this sort of work; they benefit from a vast local ecosystem of parts suppliers and equipment manufacturers and workers with specialized skills. It’s not just the cheap experienced labor that matters; doing the work anywhere else would be substantially more expensive and leave the company less able to iterate quickly.

      Also, the US regulatory environment (including trade policy) has hosed Apple in the past when they tried to manufacture locally. They might NOW have the clout to get exceptions carved out in their favor but institutional memory is strong and path dependence is a thing.

    • @Glen Raphael:

      You should read the book. It’s not just about a “small rash of suicides.” It much more than that, ongoing at this moment. And what you should be doing is lobbying Congress and Apple to make it easier for companies to employ Americans. The economies of scale you talk about are exactly why this country is so much trouble: we don’t have the depth of resources needed, and nobody cares about it, and we’ve lost a great deal as a result of it. You’re contributing to the problem. It isn’t great for people here, and nobody in Silicon Valley seems to care about that.

      Even Tim Cook could figure this out if he tried!

    • @Glen Raphael: If the U.S. regulatory environment is a concern, you should have voted for Trump and helped him win the election. Nobody in the Harris Administration is going to do anything to relax or reform the regulatory environment, except to make it much stricter, and as a result you just telling Americans: “Accept your fate!”

    • > and put up barriers to make suicide harder

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. “You can’t even kill yourself!”

    • @Glen Raphael: If the U.S. regulatory environment is so inconducive to U.S. manufacturing, everyone should be screaming from the rooftops that it should be relaxed, not strengthened. You’ve got all these people who are just itching in their britches to tighten it up!

      And with the Harris Administration, there’s no point in steering, now.

    • @Alex:
      >> and put up barriers to make suicide harder
      >That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. “You can’t even kill yourself!”

      I don’t suppose you’ve ever walked, biked or skated across the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge? That was once a lovely and picturesque thing to do – you could look over the railing at the boats in the bay and enjoy the ocean breezes. But the bridge attracted suicides. So – at great expense – the city made the outer wall taller and topped it with a high, ugly, generally unpleasant plexiglass barrier. Now walking that path feels like being a gerbil in a habitrail. The barrier blocks the ocean breeze and keeps pedestrians marinating in a layer of auto exhaust fumes that would previously have blown away while the barrier also collects dirt which smudges the view…and after all this trouble and expense and annoyance it STILL didn’t stop the suicides. So now the city of San Francisco is spending $23 million on a suicide barrier net that goes the *entire length of the bridge* in hopes THAT will make suicides sufficiently inconvenient in that location that people, yes, “can’t even kill themselves”.

      Here in the US we put expensive elaborate barriers around our famous bridges and around places like the Empire State Building balcony. Which is the *exact same thing* Foxconn did – they happened to have a specific building which was an accessibly convenient high location from which locals could die, so they…fixed it. Just like we do. A clickbait foreign journalist could have used the Golden Gate information to “prove” workers in SF are oppressed in exactly the same way ours did about Foxconn.


    • @Alex:
      Correction: the Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier is expected to cost around *211 million dollars* – the $23 million figure in the article I linked is just the *extra* cost of the most recent round of cost overruns.

    • @Glen Raphael: In my mind, it’s an open question whether the expensive measures we take to prevent suicides – beyond simple things like call boxes and phone numbers – are really worth their cost, other than to divert public money to problems that can’t be solved that way. Almost everyone has a phone, or can find a phone, to call a suicide hotline if they want to. They know that. They don’t want to.

      I’m sure there are lots of people who disagree with me for a variety of “reasons” but I think the best way to prevent suicides is to allow people opportunities to succeed. There are some that can’t be prevented. In the United States, we complain all the time about gun violence, but most of the people who kill themselves with guns are white males who feel their lives are over and meaningless. It’s going to get worse, in my estimation. I don’t think putting up big plexiglass barriers will stop that. Call me Archie Bunker.

      San Francisco should not have changed the bridge. I haven’t walked over it, and don’t intend to any time soon, but it should have been left alone. The clickbait people can’t be stopped, either, but SanFran should have just accepted the fact that they’re going to have a certain number of people every year who, in addition to trying to defy gravity by living in San Francisco, eventually try to throw themselves off the bridge and let it go at that. I know, it’s not a popular stance.

    • I mean, Hollwood can’t stop people from throwing themselves off balconies while pretending to be looking for apartments in expensive buildings. Anyone who planned that out was *determined* to die. And it’s tragic, possibly, but it happens, and it will continue to happen. It’s sad, but that’s how it is sometimes. I’m quite sure whoever it was who jumped out knew they could have called a suicide hotline.


      Famous residents included Sidney Poitier…

    • @Glen: San Francisco would have done a lot more with the money by listening to some people who want to decrease the cost of homeless shelters by a factor of 10. Get more people off the streets, stop enriching so many administrators, and reduce the human wreckage problem by doing things we know how to do.

  8. What’s the use of a pseudonym if the host is gonna out me, or do I just get one (asking for Alex).

    • @the other Donald:

      It’s OK with me. I don’t have dissociative identity disorder or multiple personalities. It’s kind of meta: I do know people who actually suffer from that, including a couple of people from an iconic ’60s band, whom I’ve known in person. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-aK6JnyFmk ) I sometimes use alternate names, mostly for fun, but Philip is right: I just should just use fewer of them because it makes it more difficult for the moderators. He’s correct to keep the use of pseudonyms to the minimum. In a better world we wouldn’t have to use them at all.

  9. Two comments:
    1. The lens protection is sapphire, so you won’t be able to scratch it in practice; why bother with a case at all, just don’t drop it (unless you have Apple Care+).
    2. The point of the MagSafe connector is to shave a few seconds off the time it takes for you to connect your phone to power. They went from connectors with an orientation, to connectors that go either way (Lightning), to a connector that quickly attaches itself.

  10. I’ve been happy with my Spigen cases, for older iPhone models. Enough protection, but not too thick. Grippy.

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