While the rest of the world mourns the death of MagSafe on the new MacBook Pro, I’ve been trying to find out how useful this feature would be on our smartphones. More specifically, I’ve been testing the Baseus Insnap Magnetic Cable.
Hold up, what’s a Bae..uh, what’s it called?
Baseus Insnap Magnetic Cable. It’s a third-party charging and data cable that has USB Type-A on one end and either microUSB or a Lightning connector on the other. It’s also really well built with nice metal cases on both ends and a tightly braided cable in the middle. It’s not too rigid, so it rolls up quite nicely.
What makes it special is the fact that it’s magnetic. At the end of the cable, you get a little nubbin that goes into the smartphone and stays there. The little nubbin connects to the rest of the cable via a magnet. Leave the nubbin in your phone and voila MagSafe for your phone. The magnet is also relatively strong, letting you hold the phone up by just the cable. This works on both small phones like this Sony Xperia XA:
…and big phones like this Xiaomi Mi Max:
Now, I get why magnetic cables like MagSafe are important for laptops. I’ve had people trip over my laptop charging cables plenty of times while it’s still plugged in. If you’ve got a cable that connects magnetically, the cable just pops off without damaging the port. It’s a simple and elegant way of keeping your port safe, and I’m all about simple and elegant solutions.
But do you really need that for smartphones?
Well, here’s where things get a little more complicated. If you think about it, the same principle should apply. We charge our smartphones about as frequently as we charge our laptops. Having an easy magnetic snap on cable should be awesome.
But while it’s easy to snap on, the connection itself isn’t reversible. So, if you try to attach the cable the wrong way, the magnets will repel each other. One good thing is that by simply flipping it over, the magnets are strong enough to pull the cable towards the little nubbin so you don’t need any hand-eye-coordination to successfully charge your phone. This is particularly useful in the dark.
Unfortunately, that was where I found the usefulness of this cable ends.
What do you mean?
Well, for starters, you have to leave a little nubbin in the smartphone that sticks out like a sore thumb if you don’t have a thick case on. It’s also got precious gold connector bits that I’m always afraid that I’ll damage it.
Then there’s the problem of having a magnetic connection that can be disconnected with a tug or a bump. Usually, when I charge my phone, it’s either lying idly on my table out of danger, in the back pocket of my jeans (with my powerbank) or in my backpack.
For the first scenario, pretty much any cable will work as well because there isn’t really any chance that someone will trip over my charging cable. In the second scenario, I also don’t see any specific strengths this has over a regular cable. In fact, I actually prefer the really short cables so I don’t have any excess wiring dangling around.
When it’s in my bag charging, it’s actually worse than a regular cable because it easily disconnects. I would hook my phone up to my powerbank, pop it into my bag and an hour later discover that my phone didn’t charge because the cable wasn’t fully connected.
What about when the cable gets caught on your chair as you roll away?
Ah yes, that has certainly happened to me. To find out, I deliberately got cable caught on my chair as I rolled away. My phone flew off the table and crashed to the floor.
Remember how I said the magnets were pretty strong? Well, it turns out that my phone wasn’t heavy nor grippy enough to stick to the table. You see, MagSafe works well because a MacBook is heavy and securely planted on your desk with rubber feet.
A phone, on the other hand, varies in both weight and grip. If you’ve got a light phone or a glass one without some kind of grippy rubber case, it’ll probably slide off your desk too.
So, no bueno then?
Well, yes and no. It’s good because it’s still a solid, well-built braided cable that will probably last longer than your bog-standard one that came bundled with your smartphone. It’s maybe just shy of the MicFlip Reversible MicroUSB cable I reviewed earlier in terms of build, but I really have no complaints. It also supports most fast-charging standards.
The magnetic feature can also come in handy when you want to charge your smartphone while you’re on the road since you can do it with one hand, though we don’t recommend that you do so as the consequences may be severe.
But beyond that, I think the magnetic part of this cable is just a gimmicky feature. It’s nowhere near as useful as MagSafe and it’s a little more impractical than a regular cable. It’s also quite pricey as the cable retails from anywhere between RM45 to RM52 for a single 1m unit.
If you wanted to spend a lot of money on a premium cable, I’d suggest MicFlip’s reversible microUSB cable instead. It’s more robust, comes with longer and shorter cable lengths, is reversible and has gold plated bits to protect from corrosion.