MagSafe 2 and 3 (Compatibility & Speed Check)

Apple released the MagSafe in 2006 for MacBook laptops using the principles of magnetic power connectors. They come in three variants, the MagSafe 1, 2, and 3, with the 2 and 3 being the most popular. This article addresses the concerns you must have about their speeds, compatibility, differences, and uses.

Due to design differences, the MagSafe 3 cannot work using the MagSafe 2. It is thinner, wider, and longer than MagSafe 2 and attains a higher voltage at 140W. Therefore, it only works with the latest dedicated gadgets like the MacBook Pro since it is not backward compatible with older models.

Apple is also yet to create a MagSafe 2 to 3 adapter; therefore, you will need to buy a new cable for your new MacBook.

If you use MagSafe to power your laptop, you should have the 2, 3, L style, or T style connector types. The MagSafe 2 and 3 look identical, and the latter is compatible with the newer Mac laptop models. If you upgraded your device but still have the MagSafe 2, you would want to know if the two are compatible.

Unfortunately, you cannot use MagSafe 2 on MagSafe 3 or the other way around, and Apple is yet to design an adapter or converter to facilitate this. If you have a new Mac that connects with the MagSafe 3, you should buy the specific connector.

The two cables are distinct from the design stages, meaning they only function on particular devices. The MagSafe 3 attains exceptionally high voltages, unlike the MagSafe 2, and other designs and functional differences deter the two from being compatible.

The original MagSafe started as a T-shaped connector and later turned L-shaped. You can use it on the 2006-2011 MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air. Later, the MagSafe 2 entered the scene in 2012 for use with the Air (2012 -2017 versions) and Retina Display Pro from 2012-2015.

Apple adjusted it to be thinner and wider to accommodate the advanced computers, and the advantage is that it also supports the original MagSafe.

The MagSafe 3 came later in 2021 in a leaner version than the predecessors, specifically for the newer Macs. It features an impressive 140W voltage, unattainable by the MagSafe 1 and 2. It explains why it is impossible to use the second-generation model with the third.

The design and functional differences make them worlds apart unless there is an adapter to allow the two to link. However, Apple has not designed one, and there are no current bypasses unless you purchase a new cable.

Design issues are the primary reasons you cannot use the MagSafe 2 on version 3. Not only are the dimensions different, but the functions also vary to allow MagSafe 3 to work on more advanced laptops.

For instance, the power in MagSafe 1 and 2 can reach 60W and 85W, respectively, while the MagSafe 3 can go up to 140W, way past what the predecessors can handle. Therefore, the three are not at the same level in terms of performance.

You cannot use MagSafe 3 on any older computer, but you may ask, what about adapters? Adaptors offer excellent ways for manufacturers to make otherwise impossible connections to work. Apple used the same tech to facilitate using the original MagSafe on the MagSafe 2.

The company made a converter for the task allowing you to power your newer mac with an old connector. If your laptop requires MagSafe 2, you can either use the same adapter or go for an original MagSafe converter. 

Thanks to this technology, Apple gave users the freedom to use their old cables to power their new computers that supported MagSafe 2. It would be incredible if the same were possible for the MagSafe 3, that you can use a MagSafe 2 adapter instead of buying a new cord.

Unfortunately, Apple has not indicated whether it will look into that soon. Experts state that there is a massive difference between the two designs, making it more tasking to actualize the idea of a converter.

If you have just bought your MacBook Pro and are convinced you need to purchase the MagSafe 3, you may have one more concern. How do you tell the difference between the MagSafe 2 and 3 to ensure you buy the right one?

Apple’s most glaring modification is to make the MagSafe 3 adopt a separate and detachable design. The two distinct parts are the brick and the USB-C cable, making the setup effortless to maintain and use.

It is an alteration from the MagSafe 2, a single cord permanently linked to the brick. Apple must have noticed its downsides because the wire can fray with extended use, and since you cannot detach it from the primary section, any issue with either part demands an expensive replacement.

Thankfully, with the MagSafe 3, you only need to swap out the affected place in case of damage, which is cheaper than buying the whole setup.

You will also notice that the MagSafe 3 has five contacts at the base, identical to the MagSafe 2, but it is slimmer, longer, and broader. The cord measures 18.81mm and is 13.18mm thick, unlike MagSafe 2, which is 17.16mm long and 5.36mm thick.

The size changes make it backward incompatible with models that the previous cables support. It also boasts of an indicator design, the green LED on the face, a feature lacking in the predecessor.

It is also easy to notice the braided nylon material on the cable, making it more durable than the MagSafe 2. The power is also impressive, with versions capable of 67W, 96W, and 140W, powerful enough to rapidly charge the latest MacBook Pro.

Apple states that it can power 50% of your device’s battery in 30 minutes. Therefore, investing in a MagSafe 3 will be a fantastic choice if you consider buying a new MacBook.

MagSafe slow charging

Fast chargers are getting famous, and every manufacturer is competing to adopt them fully in their products. MagSafe is one such tech that powers your phone and mac at high speeds, even when you are on the go. On the downside, this system may also fail and lose its rate, and here is why. 

Your MagSafe charger could be too slow if you use the wrong brick without sufficient wattage to power the entire kit effectively. The wireless charger can also lag when connected to an older incompatible Apple device. The low speed may also be due to the impact of the surrounding temperatures; since the charger emits heat, adding unfavorable elements can interfere with the charging speed.

The MagSafe is a high-end charging system that rarely runs into issues. They only happen if you power your iDevice under unconducive conditions or fail to pair it with a suitable gadget. The battery intelligently reduces the amount of power intake to ensure it doesn’t absorb excess heat that may affect its cell capacity and lifespan. Remember that the charging pad already releases heat and leaving the device in a hot place would be disastrous. 

Your fast charger may also be sluggish when you use it with an incompatible iDevice. MagSafe is a unique design for newer Apple systems whose hardware fully supports it. Therefore, if you use it with older devices, chances are high that the charging will fail, and if not, it will be too slow. In such instances, it is advisable to use a regular cable from Apple and a powerful charging adapter. This way, you can power the device faster than the wireless charger.

If you want to power your supported iDevices, it is best to be extra careful and keenly follow the instructions. The manufacturer recommends using a 20W wall adapter for the fastest and safest charging.

The cable can deliver up to 12W, which may be much slower if you simultaneously use the device. Unfortunately, if you connect the MagSafe and a Lightning charger to the iPhone, the wireless system won’t work, prioritizing the latter.

MagSafe may be slow depending on the prevailing conditions, the device in question, and the primary connection type. If the setup meets all the requirements, the wireless charger is a perfect option for your needs.

MagSafe Hacks

You can consider some hacks if you want to avoid such hiccups. First, ensure that your device supports MagSafe, and if you are uncertain, you can check Apple’s website for the compatibility list.

It also helps to use Apple’s recommended adapters and cables to pair and seamlessly operate wireless charging. Besides using the right bricks, you can also check that the temperature is favorable and not under extreme conditions; adding that to the heat from within may cause charging and battery complications. You can first check that there is no direct sunlight or another heating source.

You will likely experience a slow charging rate unless you make the surroundings safe. While charging with MagSafe, remove all metallic and credit cards from your desk, which usually affect the magnetic field.

Also, avoid inserting the standard charger into the port, else it will interfere with how MagSafe works. The system will ignore the wireless charging and obtain power through the cable from the port.

Speed up MagSafe charger

Fast charging may come in handy when you have little time to spare or are in a hurry to leave the house. MagSafe is the ideal way to go since it is convenient and fast, but as with any other system, it can also become problematic and charge too slowly. This last segment is dedicated to helping you increase MagSafe charging speed.

Your MagSafe charger will work faster when you avoid powering under extreme temperatures like direct sunlight or near heat sources. Excessive heat will force the iDevice to form a checking system to protect the battery from temperature-related damages.

Secondly, you can use higher wattage bricks to deliver more power, but sometimes the uptake will remain low if you use an old device for which the speed cannot change. It would also help to follow the proper charging procedures; otherwise, you can never achieve the maximum rates.

Your MagSafe charger is already faster than the standard cable, but this may change if you don’t use it correctly or don’t consider the prevailing conditions. If you have such problems, you can start linking it to a 20W or stronger adapter and avoiding extremely hot surroundings, which may trigger the iDevice’s software to stop the system from taking more charge. It may force your charger to slow down due to reduced power demand.

Besides using a reliable adapter and charging under recommended temperatures (about 50°F), you may also need to understand how much power your device usually takes. Its compatibility also plays a significant role in determining the charging speed. Therefore, if you have one of the latest Apple devices that supports wireless charging, you will be sure that it can handle a high-power intake within the shortest time.

Charging your iDevice with the correct accessories seems to be a significant challenge, and many users are unaware of it. Note that to get up to 15W power delivery on MagSafe, you need a 20W and above brick to plug in the available cable to the USB-C port on the adapter and charging pad. Next, hook the entire charging system to the wall outlet and let it sit for a while before mounting or inserting the device.

Letting the MagSafe power for a few seconds allows it to achieve the maximum power output that will translate to a faster-charging speed. When the wireless charger is ready, you can now attach your gadget to power up.

The two will intelligently negotiate the power input based on the wattage level. Otherwise, connecting your device before inserting the charger into a wall outlet may reduce the delivery.


If you have a MagSafe 2, it may be a bummer that you cannot use it on MagSafe 3. It is a modification of its predecessors and comes in a slimmer design that only works on the newer MacBook models. Therefore, if you have a new computer, the only way out for a fast charger is to invest in a MagSafe 3.

If you find it too slow for your iDevice, you can check that the temperature is conducive and that the setup works. Ensure that your device is compatible with MagSafe, or it will fail. You can swap your adapter for a more powerful brick and connect the system to the wall outlet before plugging it into your MacBook or iPhone.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is a technology expert based in the UK, with experience across a number of technology areas from phones, tablets, computers to gaming.

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