Apple did the unthinkable with its new iPhone 12: It stopped including a charging brick in the box. It’s supposedly better for the environment, but that’s no real consolation when your phone dies and you don’t have a compatible charging brick to resurrect it.
To make matters worse, the cable that comes with the iPhone 12 is Lightning to USB-C. In other words, the part that connects to your phone is the same as always, but the other end won’t plug into your old USB charging brick. It’s time to find a new solution, unless you feel like using the same brick and cable combination you’ve always used. If that’s the case, party on, dudes.
Anyway, Apple’s questionable business decision at least gives iPhone 12 owners an opportunity to introduce USB-C and wireless charging into their lives before one (or both) becomes a full-time standard. USB-C, in particular, isn’t going away, so it might be time to invest in a compliant charging solution.
Regular old charging bricks
The easiest, cheapest, and most straightforward solution to this problem Apple arbitrarily created is to just buy a USB-C charging brick. That is, a little piece of plastic that you plug into a power outlet with a USB-C port for that special Lightning to USB-C cable you got with your new iPhone 12.
These are not difficult to acquire, as you might imagine. Apple sells one on its online store for $19. That one will more than likely do just fine for a majority of people. There’s nothing fancy about it, but we’re talking about charging a phone, not launching a Space Shuttle. You might as well just get what works.
If you’re inclined to get a little more advanced, however, brands like Anker and Aukey produce third-party charging bricks that come with multiple ports. You just need to spend more money to get them. This one from Aukey has both USB-C and old USB ports on it for $46, making it compatible with any Lightning cable you own. For about the same price, Anker has one with two USB-C connections on it if you really want a head start on the future.
For iPhone 12 owners who like to go outside every now and then (as much as we can under current circumstances), a portable charger is a must. These come in many different sizes, shapes, and capabilities. But for our purposes, we’re obviously going to focus on iPhone-friendly USB-C models.
Portable chargers measure their battery capacities in mAh, or milliampere-hour. Let’s simplify that: More mAh means more battery. Naturally, a portable charger with a big mAh measurement will last longer and likely even come with multiple charging ports. The downside is they cost more. That said, beefy portable chargers can still be had for $50 or less.
Once again, Anker and Aukey will provide decent options at inoffensive prices. Anker’s PowerCore Slim has 10,000mAh of juice along with both USB-C and regular USB ports for $30. For the same price, you can get Aukey’s 8,000mAh charger with a USB-C port and two of the older USB ports. It’s also Qi compatible for wireless charging, which we’ll discuss a little later.
This next category is for people who are serious about cable management. This is probably way too much if all you want to do is get a reliable, available USB-C port for your iPhone 12 cable. But if you’re willing to spend some money and rearrange some cables, a USB-C power strip tower could change your life.
Yes, there are vertical power strips with normal power outlets and USB-C ports on them. They look a little ridiculous, but it’s a great way to make sure all of your devices go to the same place for easy management. This $30 one from NVEESHOX, for example, has nine outlets, three normal USB ports, and one USB-C port.
Don’t think we’re done with the familiar faces from before, either. Aukey has a $50 model with 12 power outlets, three USB ports, and two whole USB-C ports. Now that’s playing with power.
To coincide with the launch of the iPhone 12, Apple brought back the “MagSafe” branding that was previously used for MacBook chargers before those went to USB-C. MagSafe lives again, this time as a means of providing fast wireless charging for the iPhone 12 because AirPower never reached the finish line.
If you get an iPhone 12 and wireless charging tickles your fancy, it probably wouldn’t hurt to check out the official MagSafe charger from Apple. At $39, it’s a little more pricey than some third-party options, but it’s built specifically to magnetize to the optimal charging points on the back of the iPhone 12 for the fastest wireless charging possible — at least in theory. It’ll also work for your other wireless charging-compatible devices, so it’s not a one-trick pony.
Apple’s also selling a $49 MagSafe-compliant case for the iPhone 12 if you really need to burn some cash.
Third-party wireless chargers
Don’t be fooled by Apple’s MagSafe-heavy branding for the iPhone 12: Any Qi-based wireless charger will work. In other words, if you’ve been using a wireless charging pad for a while already, it’s going to work with the iPhone 12. It just might not charge as quickly as the MagSafe mat.
Still, some people live their lives at a deliberate pace. They don’t need to go from zero to 100 in a pinch, and they certainly don’t need to overpay for the privilege of doing so. Our friends at PCMag have an excellent roundup of great third-party wireless chargers, many of which are significantly less expensive than MagSafe.
For instance, Anker sells a basic wireless charging mat for $11.95. That’s about as much as a particularly excessive combo at Taco Bell and probably a lot less bad for you. This $20 option from Mophie is also appealing for those with tight budgets and a need to just set the phone down for a while.