If you are like me, you struggle to keep hold of your phone. It sometimes seems to have a mind of its own and jumps out of your hands. As you cautiously check to see if you’ve cracked yet another screen, you can’t help but think that magnets would be a great way of adding an extra bit of “stick.”
Magnetic phone holders vs. your phone: Are they safe? Magnetic phone holders, cases, and magnetic mounts are safe to use with your smartphone. When used as directed, magnetic holders are some of the most useful smartphone accessories on the market.
The magnets used in cell phone accessories are small enough not to affect the function of a smartphone.
Do Magnetic Phone Holders Damage Smartphones?
It seems almost common sense to believe that magnets would have some kind of effect on smartphone use. After all, you know that magnets initiate a pulling force on metal objects, and many components within a smartphone are made out of metal. Given the intricate nature of a phone’s construction, a magnetic force may seem to pull the phone’s components out of whack.
There is a substantial amount of research showing that the magnetic force from smartphone accessories is nowhere near enough to do damage to your phone. Some of the most influential voices disproving the damaging effect of magnets on smartphones point out that many smartphone components use magnets of their own, including:
- The speaker
- The camera
- The vibration system
Since these magnets for all of these components are within the smartphone itself, they should affect one another far more profoundly than any external magnet ever could. However, we know this not to be the case.
How Magnets Could Damage Smartphones
While magnetic holders and cases are very safe to use with your smartphone, that does not mean that magnets do not affect smartphones. Some of the conditions in which magnets could affect your smartphone’s functionality or damage its components include:
- Introducing your smartphone to a powerful magnetic charge
- Your phone is ancient and has had previous issues with functionality
- You are misusing the magnet or looking to create an effect
There is even video evidence that magnets can make a smartphone switch off by merely swiping the magnet above the screen. However, this extreme example is not something that users of magnetic smartphone accessories need to fear.
Let’s look at some of the most common smartphone features that would potentially be influenced by a magnet and dispel the myths about the harm magnetic accessories may induce.
As mentioned in an earlier section, your phone speaker operates using a small magnet and is unaffected by any of the other magnets within your device (camera, vibration system). As such, it is doubtful that an external magnet would generate sufficient force to affect your speaker in any tangible way, for a couple of reasons:
- Magnets in phone cases are too small – while this magnet snakes around the periphery of the smartphone and gets close to the speaker, it only has enough force to attract to the opposite half of the case and will generate no pull on the smartphone’s speaker.
- Magnetic holders are too far away – while some of the magnetic holding devices on the market have a strong pull, they are generally placed in the center of the smartphone’s back, too far from the speaker to create an effect. Also, this magnet is likely separated from the phone by the case backing, further weakening the pull.
The only way a magnet could affect a smartphone’s speaker is if it was powerful and placed near the speaker for an extended period. Even then, the magnetic field would need to be present when the speaker is in use to notice any distortion or other effects.
The myth of the magnet affecting the smartphone screen likely stems from our understanding of older box television sets.
A common component of the old box television was the cathode-ray tube, which emitted an electron beam to project an image onto the television screen. This electron beam could be profoundly affected by a magnet, causing the picture to blur, distort, or go fuzzy.
If you don’t believe the effect that an opposing force can have on the old cathode-ray tube television sets, try running your stocking feet across the carpet and then touch your grandparents’ conspicuously un-smart TV set. You will be in for quite a shock.
In much the same way you don’t get shocked when wearing socks on the carpet and touching your smartphone screen, a magnet won’t cause your app icons to blur, distort, or go fuzzy. The cathode-ray tube is a thing of the past. The modern LCD and smartphone screen technology are unaffected by magnetic forces.
Location functions are some of the most important features of smartphones. Gone are the days when you had to stop at every corner gas station and ask if you are going the right way. You can simply type your destination into your smartphone map, and it will give you step-by-step instructions to your destination.
Smartphone maps are crucial for rideshare drivers or any other person who relies on them to perform his or her job. If magnetic smartphone accessories affected GPS function, rideshare drivers would need to consider other phone holder options.
The GPS satellite network system is based on signals rather than on the earth’s magnetic force on a compass. Your smartphone connects with these satellite signals to determine its location. These signals are not affected by magnetic holders.
Obstacles to the signal, such as mountain ranges or being inside a tunnel, can interrupt a satellite signal, but not a magnet.
While the dot on your smartphone map indicating your location is unaffected by magnets, the little arrow or beam of light on the outside of this dot, which indicates direction, may be slightly influenced by the introduction of a nearby magnetic force.
The compass on your smartphone uses the Earth’s magnetic field to indicate a direction, and studies have shown that your smartphone compass will also detect the pull of the magnet in your accessories. This can confuse your smartphone’s compass as it works to detect which direction it needs to go to get you to your destination.
Is this cause for concern?
Actually, not at all. It is common for smartphone compasses–even those not near any magnetic accessories–to take a moment to point you in the right direction. Several factors, such as the direction the car is pointing, the way your phone is placed in the car, and the speed you are moving, can combine to delay your smartphone compass in locating true north.
Many drivers are familiar with the beam of light around their location, pulsing as their smartphone works to point them in the right direction, and having to circle the parking lot several times before their phone can tell them which way to turn. Others may have experienced the annoying “re-routing” message because the arrow was pointing the wrong way to start with.
The use of magnetic smartphone accessories may slightly extend this “confused” period for your smartphone’s compass, but once moving at a brisk pace, your smartphone maps will point you in the right direction just as well as if you weren’t using magnetic accessories.
Your phone converts the sound waves of your recorded voice into radio waves and transmits them to signal towers, which in turn transmits these radio waves to your listener’s phone, which converts the radio waves back to sound waves.
Much like the satellite signal of GPS, radio waves are not impacted by the small pull of your magnetic smartphone accessories.
Lack of signal towers in the vicinity and large mountain ranges or other obstacles may block your radio waves from reaching their intended destination, but not magnets. The only way magnets could influence the quality of your call is if they distorted your speaker, but, as mentioned above, this is highly unlikely and independent of the phone signal.
The reasons magnetic phone accessories will not influence your camera are extremely similar to those of the microphone. The camera uses a small rare earth magnet to perform its function, and this magnet is unaffected by the other small magnets within your phone.
It is possible that a very strong magnet could negatively impact the camera of an extremely old or previously abused smartphone. An intentional effort would have to be made to get this effect, which would not occur with the normal use of magnetic smartphone accessories.
Best Practices for Magnetic Smartphone Accessories
Perhaps you own magnetic smartphone accessories, but your friends still have you convinced that you are going to ruin your phone by using them. If this article has not completely alleviated your concerns, there are a couple of steps you can take to further limit the chance that magnetic accessories will have an impact on your phone:
- Do not store your phone in its magnetic case – magnetic cases are completely safe for everyday use but say that you are retiring your old phone into “back-up” for a new phone you recently bought. Make sure to take your old phone out of its magnetic case for storage. The same logic applies to a personal vs. work phones when one won’t be in use for a while
- Do not “hang up” your phone – magnetic phone holders are becoming a popular way to conveniently and discreetly hang your phone on the wall, similar to the way old dial-up phones used to hang. It’s a stretch to think that, in 2020, smartphone users will go long without taking their phones down for use, but if you’re going on a technology fast, try not to leave your phone hanging while you getaway
- Be mindful of storage location – if you have a box or drawer of old technology (if you’re a millennial, you know what I’m talking about), you’ll want to make sure that you don’t throw your old phone in with anything that is heavily magnetized
Again, these measures are for the overly cautious, as magnetic smartphone accessories will not damage your phone. However, any evidence that shows that magnets could have an influence on smartphone function is centered around extended exposure to strong magnetic force, so you will want to take steps to limit this from occurring.
How Magnetic Phone Accessories Can Be of Benefit
Now that we’ve established that magnetic phone accessories are safe for your smartphone, let’s look at some ways that they can actually make your smartphone experience more enjoyable.
If you’re like me, you’ve dropped your smartphone on more than one occasion, only to find that your case has popped open, or for those one-piece cases, that a corner of your phone has popped out of the case on impact. While I’ve yet to have any smartphone damage from such incidents, it’s disconcerting, nonetheless.
Magnetic cases add an extra layer of security to prevent this from happening. When the force of a dropped smartphone wants to send the top of the case, or your phone itself, flying from its protective nest, the magnet inside the case keeps the top, and the bottom stuck together with your phone safely inside.
In addition, the presence of the magnets allows the case to be made from tough, lightweight metal, a much more durable product that is capable of withstanding more impactful blows than alternate case options.
Magnetic Car Holders
There can be a lot going on inside cars these days. This is especially true for rideshare drivers. With the numerous stickers, most rideshare vehicles must display in their windows and the countless screens, dials, and buttons on a contemporary vehicle console, large, cumbersome smartphone mounts can get in the way and potentially be a distraction.
Magnetic smartphone car holders are some of the smallest, most discreet mounts on the market. While most car holders come with multiple components that need to be assembled before use, magnetic car holders come with two:
- A small magnet that slides into your car’s vent
- A small opposite magnet that sticks to the back of your smartphone case, like a pop socket (yes, some pop sockets are magnetized).
This creates a strong attraction that keeps your smartphone securely mounted and on full display, giving the impression that your phone is simply floating in front of your vent.
This system is especially beneficial to drivers who need to frequently mount and dismount their smartphones. With most holders, once the phone is mounted, it is there to stay, with both hands needed to get the phone out. While it is never a good idea to pick your phone up while driving, the magnetic system allows for the phone to be firmly grabbed, removed, and re-mounted with one hand in the event of an emergency.
Magnetic Wall Hangers
As mentioned in a previous section, it is becoming increasingly popular to hang smartphones on the wall when not in use. Magnetic strips can be subtly attached to your wall to give your smartphone a safe place to “hang out.”
Some such hanging systems come with charging capability. Outlets have become a precious commodity (go to an airport terminal for proof) as smartphone users are constantly on the lookout for places to charge their devices. Newer generations of smartphones are equipped with wireless charging, making it possible to charge multiple devices simultaneously as they hang safely from the wall.
Why Magnetic Phone Holders Are Safe
The myth that magnetic phone holders harm smartphones should continue to get dispelled as the popularity of magnetic smartphone accessories increases. The only way magnets could possibly harm a smartphone is if they were of high-powered laboratory strength and deliberately exposed to your phone over an extended period of time.
The magnets in magnetic smartphone accessories are not capable of damaging your smartphone, so continue enjoying the many ways magnets can improve your smartphone user experience.