back to article Apple reportedly planning to revive the MagSafe charging standard with the next lot of MacBook Pros

Renowned Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the iGiant is bringing back its beloved MagSafe charging standard with the next generation of MacBook Pro machines. The revived version will appear on two new MacBook Pro models expected to arrive later this year: a 14-inch version codenamed J314, and a 16-inch model currently …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I guess people aren't removing their Macbooks from their home desks* as often, now that they're not taking their laptop to a client, an office or a coffee shop.

    This means that a MacBook may be left plugged in for a greater fraction of the day - increasing the chances of the cable being tripped over.

    Also contributing to the chance of a MacBook's power cable being yanked is that children are present in more homes more of the time.

    * Or likely a kitchen table (that isn't against a wall) in lieu of a proper desk, further increasing chance of cable trip.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Haha, it occured to me how much data about accidental laptop damage Apple gleans from its repair centres (my guess is, as much as it can), with a view to informing later refits, revisions and models. I then imagined a scenario where a repair technician can view the last 5 seconds of video seen by a laptop's webcam immediately before it is knocked to the floor and 'killed' ("Benson!"). My chuckle is because it is a familiar premise from science fiction - a wetware hacker / psychic cop / time traveller uses the last images a murder victim sees to identify their killer.

    2. WallMeerkat

      > I guess people aren't removing their Macbooks from their home desks* as often

      Indeed I'm currently happy enough with the USB-C dongles as they act as a bit of a docking station now my work MBP has semi-permanent residence on the desk.

      I wouldn't use SD cards often, but have a USB adaptor or my Mac Mini for occasions when I do.

      The touchbar is still as useless a gimmick as Windows Sideshow though (remember that?), I'm at least grateful for the return of the physical ESC key (vimming without tactile keyboard feedback wasn't nice)

  2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I've got a 13 inch 2015 MacBook Pro.

    I think Magsafe, when it works, is probably the best charging system I've used on a laptop. Purely because it does disconnect if you knock the cable. The advantage of carrying one charger for USB C are, IMO, far outweighed by risk of a laptop that costs the best part of 1000 pounds being pulled off the table.

    I think I've still got a good few years of life left in my laptop yet, although I could sometimes do with more ram, which isn't an option on this laptop (Apple soldered the RAM to the Motherboard, and I could only afford 8 Gig at the time I bought it).

    I did want the 15 inch model with the Touch Bar, but I don't see the touch bar as anything more than an interesting gimmick, and it added far too high a cost to the laptop, Not sure I'd have bought it even if I could afford it.

    1. Wibble

      £1000? Cheapskate! Try £4000 for the 16".

      Magsafe's great. You put no pressure on the port, just let the magnets do their best. Sometimes needs an initial wiggle to get it all to connect, but it's been exceedingly reliable for me for the past 14 years or so on many different Macs.

      Still smarting at 4 grand for the 16" although it's a work device and works brilliantly. Lots of disc space and memory.

      1. WallMeerkat

        A year ago I had to expense a 16" i9 32GB (the only non-standard option) MBP for work and treated it with reverence as it cost £3k, which is more than my car is worth...

        I went mad on the configurator just now and could spec a 16" MBP with full options to a cost of £7,198.98 which is absolutely crazy, especially a machine that is going to be replaced with an M1 version very soon

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I went out of my way to find a good 2015 model not so long ago, as it was the only way to get a Mac laptop that could be semi-dependable. And it has been good. My Mrs is still using one of that vintage for work, and was the envy of all her colleagues who'd upgraded only to find they had in fact been given a downgrade when their keyboards stopped working.

  3. Elledan Silver badge

    MagSafe is the best charging connector

    I have used a number of MacBook Pros over the years as work laptops. During that time the MagSafe connector has saved the laptop from getting pulled onto the ground or worse on a number of occasion. Once when sitting on a couch and someone walking past who snagged on the charger cord. Another time when I was moving the laptop while it was charging, got stuck on something and had the MagSafe connector disconnect.

    In either of these cases, having the laptop plugged in with USB-C or a barrel connector would have meant a $1,500+ laptop gracefully flying through the air and likely me having to explain a busted screen to my boss. With my non-Mac laptops I am noticeably more careful, regardless of whether it's a tricked-out Lenovo T-series or a gaming laptop. Tucking that charger cord out of harm's way is essential.

    I imagine a thin & light ultrabook that's sitting on a desk while charging quietly via USB-C has excellent aerodynamic properties that will enable it to be propelled through the air the moment someone snag on said USB cable. Much easier than a chunky 1+ kg gaming laptop.

    While I'm not a big fan of Macs in general, their excellent trackpads and the MagSafe connector have remained two things that I do miss about those MacBook Pros. Good to see that the latter might be making a return. Maybe then other laptop manufacturers will finally get the hint :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

      You need not worry, seen it happen a couple of times. What happens is, the charging cable is so flimsy that it breaks / pulls out of the charging brick. So you would be needing only a new charger.

      From my limited viewing experience in a university café.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

      >In either of these cases, having the laptop plugged in with USB-C or a barrel connector would have meant a $1,500+ laptop gracefully flying through the air and likely me having to explain a busted screen to my boss.

      Now having some experience with USB-C only charging laptops, I expect Apple engineer are seeing plenty of devices with busted USB-C ports. Whoever thought something as flimsy as a USB-C connector was suitable to be used as a laptop charging port really needs to be taken outside and shot.

      What surprised me is why Apple never implemented the MagSafe connector on the iPad and iPhone, even though it used magnetic connectors for the cover and more recently MagSafe style connectors for keyboard and pen (charging).

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

      I also think the MagSafe connection is a brilliant solution for charging. I only wish that Apple would push to have it standardised: this is the sort of thing that patents are supposed to support the adoption of. Easier enough to have an USB-C - MagSafe adapter so that proprietary chargers are not required.

      The risk of the computer being dragged around is, however, less than that of permanent damage to the socket. And this is where Apple could certainly improve: last year I had to have the whole USB sub-board replaced because having everything to the side can lead to unnecessary strains on the arrangement. On my MacBook 2015 I had both the USB and HDMI in constant use and, even with short cable buffers and infrequent removal, it was obviously too much for the arrangement. Though presumably I should have rearranged my office so that the screen was always to the right of the Mac…

      As for the touchbar: you can see why the designers thought it was a good idea. On something like a phone a virtual menu (like the sidebar on the newer Samsungs) makes a lot of sense, but bugger all at the top of a keyboard, which is why you can still buy dedicated peripherals for sequencers, etc.

      1. Dave559 Bronze badge

        Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

        "Easier enough to have an USB-C - MagSafe adapter so that proprietary chargers are not required."

        Yes, the best of both worlds would be to have a USB-C connector on the laptop, supplied with a tiny converter dongle with MagSafe on the outer end (a bit like those nifty tiny USB flash drives you get, which barely stick out of the port at all) which you then connect the MagSafe cable to.

        This would give you all the benefits of MagSafe, but would also let you connect a standard USB-C power supply instead, if your Mac PSU suddenly died, or if you forgot to bring it with you and nobody had a spare, etc. (One great thing about USB-C is that it ushers in one single standard power connector for everyone.)

        Apple also need to seriously rethink their power supply cables: they are so ridiculously thin that they start to self-destruct far too easily, with the cable outer always starting to discolour, fray and then disintegrate. I'm sure if they were even 1 - 2 mm thicker they would be much stronger and more durable. When the cable does inevitably disintegrate, you (well, most people) then have to replace the entire (and ludicrously expensive, especially for such a poor design) power supply unit, as the PSU <-> computer cable is built into the PSU (d'oh), rather than being a detachable/sacrificial part.

        And while I'm here, it would be great to have a USB-C power input on both sides of the laptop, so that, depending on how you are sitting (or lazing in bed) you could plug the power cable in to whichever side is easiest to use. Did I mention that the computer <-> charger cable is also too damn short as well for the PSU block to be able to sit on the floor if you don't have space (or if it's potentially unsafe, given it gets rather warm) to have the PSU sat somewhere immediately next to you?

        It's so frustrating that for a company that (once?) really prided itself on usability, Apple gets so many things partly right, but ultimately spoiled by thoughtless flaws.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

          >Yes, the best of both worlds would be to have a USB-C connector on the laptop, supplied with a tiny converter dongle with MagSafe on the outer end ...

          This would give you all the benefits of MagSafe, but would also let you connect a standard USB-C power supply instead

          They exist:

          Full USB-C: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magnetic-Charging-Transfer-Connections-Compatible/dp/B07R15RVJ5/>

          Power only: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CONMDEX-Magnetic-Converter-Compatible-ChromeBook/dp/B07GHZC8FN/

          Yes, I like these because I don't need to also purchase a proprietary USB cable etc. also they are low profile and so don't catch when putting laptop in bag etc.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

      I have absolutely no clue what amount of corporate stupidity caused Apple to ditch magsafe.

      It is in itself 30% of the reason why you'd buy a MacBook.

      There is no way I'd buy a 1500+ buck laptop without this.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

        I suspect that the size of the component was the main driver. USBC/Thunderbolt is so much thinner and also removes a port that only has one function.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MagSafe is the best charging connector

          More likely because it was a fire hazard and were sued over it.

  4. Brian Scott

    Hooray!

    The Magsafe connector was very nice and I miss it greatly. The USB-C connector on my current machine seems like a step backwards but is much better than the much older barrel connectors and it does allow me to plug power into any of the USB-C connectors.

    Possibly the biggest problem with the magsafe connector was that it was Apple-only. This meant that it was impossible to get 3rd party power supplies. Without competition, apple didn't need to innovate so there was never any development of airline or car power adapters.

    The best news is consigning the touch bar to hell. It is only useful if you don't know which key you want to press and can deal with looking at the keyboard. For touch typists using the machine a lot it's the definition of crap. It's worse than a waste of space, it actually slows your workflow and promotes mistakes. The lack of any feedback when touching it means you also need to watch your hands lest you accidentally hit an unintended key.

    My current Macbook pro also turns out to have the last of the stupid butterfly keyboards so this is all a bit of a raw nerve for me. My previous machine was a 2012 model macbook pro which finally died early 2020. I normally get a long life out of my Macbooks but if they can get the keyboard working properly without a touch bar then I may very well trade up quickly.

    A magsafe connector would be a nice touch. Maybe they should allow powering via either magsafe or USB-C to allow some flexibility - nah, sorry forgot we were talking about Apple for a second there.

    1. Solviva

      Re: Hooray!

      I can see this now

      Base price 16" with touchbar £$€ 2999

      Replace touchbar with real function keys +£$€ 200

    2. Crypto Monad

      Re: Hooray!

      There was an official Apple Magsafe airline adapter - I know because I got one. However, the only place I came across a compatible airline power socket was in older BA 747's in Premium Economy. I did get to use it a few times: IIRC, it was able to power the laptop, but for some reason wouldn't charge it.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Hooray!

        I didn't know about that - I bet it was "reassuringly expensive" as another brand likes to say in it's adverts.

        As to not charging, I suspect that's similar to the older laptops. Back when they used a 3.5mm jack with a ring around it, there was actually documentation on how the laptop determined what power source it had - basically just a resistor between two contacts. For running off 12V (which would be the case on an airplane I believe), the laptop only got 12V rather than the 19V from an AC adapter - enough to run it, but not to charge it.

        Technically speaking, it shouldn't be hard to configure a power circuit that can charge from 12V - but a secondary consideration is that many power sockets will be severely restricted in how much power you can draw.

        But even if you can't charge, being able to run off external power and conserve your battery has to be a significant benefit.

      2. Gonzo wizard

        Re: Hooray!

        I had one too. It also has a cigarette lighter socket adapter, and I think I used it four or five times. Can’t find it now.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Hooray!

          I remember buying a dead magsafe-one PSU, salvaging the connector and attaching it to one of those charges-all-laptop power supllies you could get from third parties. Worked brilliantly on 12V or 240V, was great for travelling.

  5. ITS Retired

    I like the Touch bar.

    I think the Touch Bar is a touch of genius.

    Maybe if Microsoft came out with one, people would like it better. But being Apple and all that...

    1. Malcolm Weir

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      Had it been additive, I'd have agreed with you. But the implementation was truly lousy: it removed /complicated functionality (see the crack about the escape key and vim, which was a real nuisance).

      It's also very dated now. Compare with the Asus "Screenpad Plus": an entire second touch screen that you can interact with while not obscuring your main screen. (Asus managed to retain the escape key, too). I'm not totally sold on the Asus solution (I'm a Wacom user, and like the "input" display to the right of the keyboard instead of above it, but that's a personal preference), but it's an interesting implementation!

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      Lenovo tried a very similar touch bar for their 2nd gen Carbon X1 (top of the range) laptops back in 2014. That's a couple of years before Apple stumbled on the same stupid idea.

      I used the model for a short while - boss had ordered it to himself but I arranged a couple of weeks to play with it first. The laptop itself was superthin and attractive both design- and spec-wise. But that keyboard...was just horrible. As Apple users with touch bar have mostly noted by now.

      Lenovo at least reverted back to proper function keys with the 2015 model.

    3. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      Not sure where the "people would like it better if Microsoft did it" idea comes from.

      Microsoft's innovations and new products have often been big winners haven't they? The Start Screen in Windows 8, yes that went really well. Windows Phone - yep, that was a big winner overall. Edge, without a doubt the world's number one browser now. Zune, that gave the iPod its comeuppance as well most definitely.

      Besides, as others have mentioned, "touchbar" type strips have appeared on some Windows laptops. Lenovo introduced one in 2014, it was widely hated and was quietly dropped and replaced with proper function keys again just one year later.

      You're welcome to like the touchbar incidentally, but my gut feeling is that a lot of people don't share your sentiments here...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I like the Touch bar.

        I guess it depends upon how much you used the Function keys. Certainly many laptops are inelegant in how they consign things like Screen Brightness and Audio Volume to a [Fn] + [F12] style key combo. Most laptop users have need to for these functions, but a lot of software doesn't require the user to use F1 - F12: there is a basic issue with 'discoverability'.

        The other unknown (at the time of its creation) was how widely the touch at would be adopted by 3rd party applications.

        In the late nineties, Sony VAIO laptops (as well as Sony phones) had a jog dial. Many of the functions that Apple would have on the touch bar (brush tool size, zoom, volume, brightness, etc etc) could work well on a jog dial, with a screen pop up providing visual feedback. However, a lot of these things can also be well controlled with [Keyboard modifier] + [ Mouse Scroll Wheel]

    4. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      ...the Touch Bar is a touch of genius.

      So, more like a Genius Bar then?....ah......hang on....

    5. tony
      Happy

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      Same especially when they brought back the esc key... but was always disappointed that they never brought a version out for the desktops and because of that I always felt it was still in beta stage

    6. WallMeerkat

      Re: I like the Touch bar.

      > Maybe if Microsoft came out with one, people would like it better.

      Because Windows Sideshow was such a success?

  6. s2bu

    Wish list

    Other things I wish they’d revive:

    - The little push-button battery status indicator that was on the side of the laptop

    - GigE

    - 17” screens

    - Better reliability. My older units lasted much longer than the newer ones

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Wish list

      Amen.

      As chance would have it, I’ve just today brought a 2011-era MBP back from the dead, with a new (iFixit) battery. It has both your first two features and I’d forgotten how useful the push-button battery gauge is.

      Now if only its screen was better than the (dismal even when it was new) 1440x900.

    2. Solviva

      Re: Wish list

      My first was a 2012 MBP (only on my 2nd now). The daftest thing I found was the lack of a power status indicator. Compounded by a bug whereby closing the lid and removing the Thunderbolt ethernet had a good chance of hanging the system, except it wasn't just an idle hang it was a busy loop. But all (well the screen) lights were off so you'd think it was asleep? Pop it snugly in to my backpack, take it out an hour later at home to find it's turned into a furnace.

      After this happened more than once I found the best I could do was close the lid, unplug everything, then hold the fan exhaust to my ear for a couple of minutes as the fans were the only semi reliable indicator of life.

    3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Wish list

      Things I wish Apple would revive:

      - User upgradable RAM

      - User upgradable hard drives

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Wish list

        Agreed! I owned a couple of Mac Minis in the past. Quite liked them, and kept them going for a number of years with the odd RAM and hard drive upgrade. My current "little computer" though is a NUC - primarily because it is upgradable and Apple's more recent kit isn't.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Wish list

        0 - User-replaceable batteries

      3. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Wish list

        While the ram upgrade might be nice, I’m guessing just wacking in 16g will be fine for almost everyone.

        Amd and intel could offer this for laptop cpus and get much of the same gains.

        At the current level of laptop maturity I suspect you’d outgrow the ram and cpu at the same time.

        Non-upgradable drives are a terrible evil though, especially since they wear out.

      4. Dave559 Bronze badge

        Re: Wish list

        "- User upgradable hard drives"

        Absolutely agree!

        I bit the bullet and went for the 16 GB for my 2015 MacBook Pro, and I think I'm glad I did: I could possibly have got away with 8 GB (I'm not quite sure), but if I had got that wrong, it would have been a frustrating literal real drag on an (already) expensive laptop.

        For storage, going for 512 GB was an easy, but still rather financially painful, choice (I knew 256 GB wouldn't be enough). I would have liked 1 TB, but there's absolutely no way I could have afforded it, especially at Apple's infuriatingly excessive upgrade prices, which are a frustration in themself: we don't mind paying a bit more for better, but feeling price-gouged about it compared to market prices really is a slap in the face.

        Now, of course, I really could do with that extra half-TB storage (which is also now theoretically more affordable), but there is absolutely no way I can add it! Aargh!

        1. Dave559 Bronze badge

          Re: Wish list

          Dammit, I could swear my fingers typed "16 GB RAM" above. Apologies for any confusion in what I seem to have written instead. :-(

    4. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Re: Wish list

      Bring back 11`" screens (and make them 4:3 please).

      1. Richard Crossley

        Re: Wish list

        11 inch is a good form factor for economy class or "British Rail". My Mac Book Air has travelled the World and will continue to do so when travelling is allowed again.

    5. sysconfig

      Re: Wish list

      Touch screens would be nice too, at least as an option.

    6. Wibble

      Re: Wish list

      Covers for the video cameras (can't use the slender aftermarket privacy covers as they're slightly proud of the bezel ring, so when you close the lid, all the pressure goes onto the privacy cover and eventually breaks the screen.

    7. Wibble

      Re: Wish list

      More USB-C chuffs. Sick of running out of holes and needing to use dongles all the time.

      An Apple dongle that you can use it for charging as well as all the USB stuff.

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Malcolm Weir

    Magsafe was/is a really, really elegant solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. Don't get me wrong, I like the thinking behind it, but despite the "cautionary tales" there really aren't blizzards of laptops hurtling around coffee shops, because (a) people don't trip over cables as often as the Magsafe fandom implies, and (b) even when they do, some proportion of the "trips" uneventfully yank one or the other end of the non-Magsafe cable out, resulting in absolutely no dire consequences.

    Apropos of nothing much, my LG V60 second screen sports a funky little widget that had a USB Type-C socket on one side and a magnetically attached contacts on the other. It only supports the USB-PD signals (no superspeed lanes), but it changes the phone using a cable (for when a wireless charging mat is not convenient).

    Interestingly, Type-C sockets can be bidirectional in terms of power delivery (at 100W, not some cut-down 31W that some vendors choose to implement), so you could have a system where a Type-C power brick could power a laptop via plugging into a Type-C socket, or through a magnetically attached connection (in which case it would supply power over the socket). And the same cable would charge your phone, as well as everything else that isn't Apple or wireless!

    (Remember: the point of the USB power delivery concept is that you won't need a rat's nest of different cables. Also remember that Apple doesn't care, and likes unique magic cables for very limited technical reasons)

    1. Joe Gurman

      Sorry, but....

      I carried my first-generation PowerBook along with me on a visit to my sister & family's place in Edinburgh. I got to sleep in a spare room across from the kitchen that had two outlets. Because it was used as a spare dining room, I had to stretch the charging cable around a table leg, with the machine sitting on a chair. The next morning, in full jet lag and mind fog, I tried walking past where the cable was, dragged the PowerBook off the chair, and watched it fly halfway across the room, where it landed with a bang on the hardwood floor. The machine itself was unfazed, but one of the two, small, polycarbonate, flip-down legs had broken off and couldn't be returned to service because some of the internal, metal fitting had gotten broken in the fall. I don't know if it was my winning way on the phone, or that Apple knew me as a customer from a rather large organization that had its own military and naval forces, a national park system, and a sizable bureaucracy to who them wanted to sell Macs (Macs being pretty much all they sold in those days). Imm any case, they overnighted me a replacement leg ,no questions asked.

      So yes, I thought the MagSafe was A Good Idea™.

      That said, USB cables come undone with about the same amount of force as an old MagSafe connector, so frankly, I have to wonder if Apple isn't trying to unify all of its charging apparatuses, and planning to wedge a circular MagSafe charging apparatus in its larger (M2?) MacBook Pros. Then no one will ever have to wonder if they've got the proper USB-C cable for charging. They'll have to buy a US$39 charger cable instead.

    2. Muppet Boss

      The problem does exists, maybe not as frequently as claimed though. A typical barrel connector pops out very nicely too though, unless the cord is pulled under a very unfortunate angle.

      >(Remember: the point of the USB power delivery concept is that you won't need a rat's nest of different cables.)

      I've already had to do with charging-only USB-C cables (that won't transfer data), normal USB-C cables that won't charge at all with high-power chargers (won't support Power Delivery) and they all look the same. Seems I have to carry a bunch of them just in case.

      1. Solviva

        You can avoid a rats nest at home/office/in your bag if you buy the right cables first.

        I've got a 3m long USB-C 100W cable for my macbook (just because). It's only USB-2 though. Was about 50% more for USB-3 but since it's 99% used for charging why pay extra.

        The problem can be now seen as there are too many options making it more a burden on you to find the right cable.

        I like the fact I can now use the same cable and swap it to my phone (obviously it's not an Apple phone) if it needs some juice quick. Sometimes I'll top up the phone from my laptop (4 USB-C ports makes the Macbook a very good pwerbank ;). Once though, the Macbook tried to charge itself from the phone, phone obliged and its battery indicator went rather quickly the wrong way.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        The cables that look the same but are not is a really important issue. Have an upvote.

        I don't buy new equipment all that frequently, so I've still got a lot of stuff not on USB-C. Those things I do have though... I have a laptop from work with a USB-C socket for charging. It comes with a power adapter for it. I have a portable device which also charges via USB-C. Its charger can't charge the laptop because it doesn't produce enough voltage. Fine, no surprise there. However, the cable which connects to that weak charger doesn't appear to be able to charge the laptop when a proper power supply is placed at the other end. I don't know why. Also, this is one of the few cables I have with USB-C on both ends, but I don't know whether it carries data at all. Also, there are cables which work with Thunderbolt and ones which don't. The Thunderbolt ones are supposed to have a logo on them somewhere. So perhaps one can determine which kind they have if they have a magnifying glass on them, but in reality, the cable that fits the port gets used and people generally won't find out that it's causing the system to run slow until they've experienced a lot of pain.

        If USB-C is to be our one standard, I suggest we force one standard on all the people using it. It goes something like this:

        1. All cables carry data. No cable will ever be produced lacking data pins. If we find a cable you've manufactured which lacks the data lines or in any other way has data intentionally disabled, you will lose your license to produce USB cables and we tie all the power-only cables at ankle height around your office before killing the lights. If you wish to produce cables which don't carry data for security reasons, you probably don't need to, but we'll accept cables with a switch on them which cuts them.

        2. All cables with USB-C on one or both ends will be able to carry power at 5 V and 3 A. They should be able to do more, but nothing less than that.

        3. Any wall adapter with a USB-C socket must be able to provide power at 5 V and 3 A. This holds whether the device they're shipped with uses that or not. If the device only uses 1 A at 5 V, the adapter still has to be able to produce 3 A if called upon to do so.

        4. If a device uses USB-C to power itself, all the USB-C sockets on it will work to charge it.

        5. All devices with at least one USB-C socket have to state in their documentation if not written on the device itself whether the sockets are data-only, power only, or data and power.

        6. All devices using USB-C to power themselves must state in their documentation if not on the device itself the voltage and current required to charge them.

        I'm sure there are more necessary rules. Without them, we have the situation we had before, with cables that only work on some machines and you might have to get an unusual one if yours breaks, but now they don't even look different to make this clear.

    3. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I am not sure how many laptops are damaged through being dragged off desks from people catching on the power cords, but I can tell you that damaged power sockets inside the laptop are very much a real thing for those laptops that use a barrel jack.

      When i worked a support desk we would regularly get users report their laptop battery was not charging or they have to wiggle the connector to get it to start charging. And it was because the solder joints have been damaged from the cord being pulled out at a funny angle and although it is a cheap fix to resolder the work usually involved stripping the laptop completely so took a while to do.

      1. Malcolm Weir

        Of course laptops get damaged. My point is that the intersection of (incidents that might damage laptops) and (incidents where the damage was averted by the magnetic connector) is smaller than is often implied.

        Yes, it's not an empty set: Magsafe _has_ saved laptops that would otherwise been damaged.

        Think about it, though: if the problem was as endemic as is implied, why don't other vendors come up with alternatives? Why hasn't Apple put it on their phones? (I previously mentioned my LG phone with a magnetic USB adapter). Why don't the business laptop vendors (Dell, Lenovo, HPE, etc) address the issue you describe by making the power socket easily replaceable? (I once dabbled with a design from theatre equipment from the 1970s, where the connectors were installed so even if the whole socket got ripped out, it could be replaced and its mounting was built to be enormously tolerant of misalignment).

        Conclusion: while the problem exists, it's not terribly significant in the whole scheme of things, just like the problem of spilling coffee into a laptop exists, but it's not so common that there's a significant market for waterproofing mainstream / mass-market keyboards -- even though there are folks whose machines would have been saved by such a thing!

        I'd much rather see the cost & effort go into things like less brittle plastic and more metal, etc.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          "Think about it, though: if the problem was as endemic as is implied,"

          It is, and most of your questions have obvious answers.

          "why don't other vendors come up with alternatives?"

          They do. Microsoft's Surfaces use a magnetic charger for the same reasons. They're not the only ones who have done so. The primary reasons that companies choose not to do it are backward compatibility (E.G. most Dell business laptops used the same size barrel adapter before they adopted USB-C) or patent fears (Apple's sued people before for similar connectors and everyone was expecting them to do the same to Microsoft but it didn't happen).

          "Why hasn't Apple put it on their phones?"

          Two reasons. First, phones aren't usually as likely to have the problem. The reason is that phones have batteries which generally last longer, so people are rarely seen at a table, working on the phone, with the phone plugged in. Laptops do have that more often, so they need the protection more. Second, phones are already expected to fall more often, which is why people often put their phones in cases. Because they're small, easily dropped, etc. they've been designed for abrupt falls more than laptops have. It's usually less of a problem if a phone falls to the floor than if a laptop does so.

          "(I previously mentioned my LG phone with a magnetic USB adapter)."

          Which is useful, as is wireless charging, because they reduce wear on the charging port. Magnetic USB-C cables do exist, and I need to buy one to see if it can withstand long-term high-voltage charging. I'm afraid that they're not designed for that and will fail in a laptop where they wouldn't in a phone.

          "Why don't the business laptop vendors (Dell, Lenovo, HPE, etc) address the issue you describe by making the power socket easily replaceable?"

          Why don't they make the hard drives easily replaceable? Or memory? Or WiFi cards? The usual answers are that they can save themselves money, produce a thinner machine, and so on. Also, few of their customers are planning to resolder a power port anyway, so they probably figure they don't have to worry about the issue costing them customers. If it leads to a faster replacement cycle for the laptops, I doubt they'll complain.

          1. Malcolm Weir

            Pretty sure we live in different worlds!

            In mine, you're far more likely to see a phone plugged in to charge at a coffee shop/airport/hotel lobby than a laptop.

            And "endemic" obviously means something different!

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              I suppose we must live in different worlds regarding phones and laptops; I see phones charging, but usually from short cables which aren't stretched across rooms. The long easily-tripped-over cables I see are almost universally attached to laptops. Maybe it's just the buildings I spend time in. My other points for the why not on phones issue remain, though.

              "And 'endemic' obviously means something different!"

              I'm not sure what you mean by this. I didn't use the word endemic; you did. I just quoted you. I interpreted it to mean something along the lines of "prevalent" or "common". Did you mean it differently? My response was written for that meaning, and having reread your comment, it still seems to be the most logical meaning in context to me. You said the issue wasn't endemic, I counter that it is quite common.

          2. Dave 126 Silver badge

            > Magnetic USB-C cables do exist, and I need to buy one to see if it can withstand long-term high-voltage charging

            I might be wrong, but the wall charger will start at 5v 2.1A, and then, only after a handshake with a compatible device, bump up the voltage to 9v (depending upon which fast charging system is in use*). Since this handshake requires a good connection, there isn't a high voltage present at the moment that pins are brought into contact with each other.

            * Qualcomm and Samsung use a system that bumps up the voltage, but it appears to be compatible with some tier of USB C PD (which is a standard). I.e, my Samsung Galaxy S8 will fast charge from a USB C PD charger made by Apple for MacBooks. I believe that OnePlus used an adaptive system where the wall charger would bump up the current instead of the voltage.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              What worries me is after the original handshake. If the magnetic connector doesn't support the 65W my work laptop expects, it might specify that and refuse to work, which would be acceptable, or it might not have that functionality and try to pass the voltage through until something burns out, which wouldn't. I don't know for sure what would happen, which is why I have to test it, but I'm afraid given the many manufacturers that there will be some unreliable ones out there which could cause a safety or destroyed equipment issue.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          > Think about it, though: if the problem was as endemic as is implied, why don't other vendors come up with alternatives?

          Because for a long time most other vendors sold their laptops based on price, knowing that many would would-be customers would, if offered two machines for the same money, buy the one with the faster CPU or most RAM. Fitting extra features, or more refined features, would make a laptop cost more but wouldn't allow it to command a premium over rivals unless the market saw the advantage in it.

          Okay, that's a gross generalisation. Vendors like Sony, IBM and Toshiba would compete on features and refinement too (eg, all of the above, like Apple, had charging circuitry that meant a laptop could be left plugged in indefinitely without killing the battery - this sadly isn't true of all laptops) - but Apple had an easier job of communicating such things because they have been consistent in their attitude to cost and features.

    4. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Magsafe was/is a really, really elegant solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

      To be fair, the problem may be more severe for Macs because Apple's power cords are so infuriatingly short.

      1. PerlyKing Silver badge

        Re: Short Apple power cords

        Is this a recent thing? My 2006 and 2010 MacBook Pros both came with a power brick which had a longish (14 linguine?) fixed lead to the laptop, and interchangeable wall plugs one of which was also on a longish cable. Longer than any other laptop which has passed through my household, which is admittedly not many.

        On MagSafe itself, it may have saved one of my MBPs from a fall once in 14 years of use, but it was definitely easier to attach than a "normal" connector :-)

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Magsafe was/is a really, really elegant solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

      Flying notebooks are maybe less of a risk than buggered sockets due to the stresses that they can be under and I reckon USB-C is more susceptible here because it's smaller. This is why Nokia and Ericsson also had "pop" connections for charging.

      But whatever they do, please make an effort to standardise it.

  8. Joe Gurman

    SD card reader? Really?

    Apple likes everyone to buy everything from them and live in their walled garden — or so I learn from reading El Reg.

    If that's so, an SD card reader is pointless. iPhones and iPads come with as much memory as you buy them with, period. Photos can be transferred over a cable (which may or may not include USB-A, USB-C, and/or Lightning Connectors). Or wirelessly. Or maybe uploaded to iCloud.

    An SD card reader might be useful if the user took pictures with a digital camera other than an iPhone. But that's a Pro-ish sort of thing, right? Oh boy, does Apple have a Pro machine or two they'd like to sell you. One of them even has an SDXC card reader. Come to think of it, so does a plain, old iMac.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: SD card reader? Really?

      Lots of "Pros" use Macbooks for work, their screen is gorgeous for photo work and also you can't really take an iMac with you on a plane...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: SD card reader? Really?

        Back in the say, you couldn't realistically use a PC for colour accurate work. This was one of the reasons that Macs survived the 19990s. This thankfully changed some years ago. However, high resolution displays took a long time to be properly supported by Windows (i.e, so that you could view a high Res image without the UI elements of your application be too small). Sadly, even after Microsoft sorted Windows out in this regard, Adobe dragged it's feet for several years, meaning that Photoshop on Windows laptops with high resolution displays was a PITA for viewing high Res images.

        Photographers often stayed with Macs.

  9. 45RPM Silver badge

    I don’t have a problem with the Touch Bar - and all of my software supports it. It’s not as if adding support for it was difficult. That said, ahem, none of my Macs have a Touch Bar - so that might go some way towards explaining why I don’t have a problem with it.

    I’ve never had a problem with MacSafe either, nor with genuine Apple chargers falling apart or overheating. I still have the charger for my old black MacBook (which I no longer have), and I use it with my 2010 Air. It still works perfectly.

    I was thinking of buying a new MacBook - but if MagSafe is making a return I’ll definitely wait for that.

    1. Wibble

      Here am I using my "Magic Keyboard" to type this whilst looking at my Thunderbolt screen (still works, just needs the official Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter). The 16" laptop's sitting on a desk stand to get it to the same eye-line as the monitor.

      I don't have a Touch Bar on this keyboard.

      In any case, I'm a touch typist (like everyone is) so I'm looking at the screen as I type and won't be looking up and down at the pretty useless Touch Bar. Sure, it's amazingly well implemented, but fundamentally flawed in that your eyes are looking at the screen not the keyboard. So 10 out of 10 for implementation and minus several thousand for usefulness.

  10. Andy Tunnah

    "no matter how much you moan"

    Yeah but I feel like if I keep doing it, it might just work. It's not worked yet but that's no reason to quit.

  11. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    Touchbar

    The only good use I've ever found for the touchbar on my Macbook is for scolling through videos. Otherwise, I've found it's just a gimmick.

  12. Jolyon Ralph

    MagSafe was awful.

    The old magsafe connectors were a great idea, but fundamentally flawed for two reasons. The switch to USB-C was a great improvement.

    1. proprietary chargers/cables are hugely more expensive than generic replacements. You can get USB-C chargers anywhere, and use the same charger for everything. I can use my MacBook Air USB-C charger to charge my MacBook Air, my iPad, my android phone, my samsung tablet, my wireless headphones, my Canon EOS R mirrorless camera, my USB battery pack, even the bank of LED lights I use for my zoom meetings. If I travel (vaguely remember about travel from the distant past) I can now pack a single adaptor for everything. NO. I don't want a bespoke Mac charger again.

    2. Magsafe had a fatal flaw. All it took was a grain of grit or some other dirt to be caught inside and then the connector would partly connect but not totally, leading for power to sometimes arc across the pins inside, the connector to get VERY hot and eventually oxidizing/corroding the metal. My wife's 2015 Macbook Pro needs regular cleaning to stop the magsafe connector from overheating. I've heard of other people who's connectors have failed completely needing a motherboard replacement.

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: MagSafe was awful.

      Bit of grit.. My normal reason for finding a client's magsafe was warm/not working was it had picked up a closed staple from their desk.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: MagSafe was awful.

      It'll depend if Apple still allow their laptops to pull power from USB-C as well. I certainly hope so! One of the nice advantages of USB-C for home working is that I just have to plug a single and standard cable in from my dock and it both powers my laptop and allows my external screen, keyboard and mouse to work as well.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: MagSafe was awful.

        I can't image Apple moving away from the idea of docking a laptop to monitor, power, storage etc with just a single cable.

  13. StockLAN

    Patching the hole in the walled garden?

    Cynical part of me things Apple will be removing the Thunderbolt / USB-C charging capability. Can't have the suckers/consumers (of whom I'm one) able to buy third party charging.

    I wouldn't mind, but docking 'universal' docking stations running off Thunderbolt/USB-C have been a most excellent addition to my hot desking (and more recently home working) world. I can arrive at the client site, with nothing more than my laptop, plug in and go. Doesn't matter I run a Mac. It would really suck to lose that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patching the hole in the walled garden?

      This needs to be stressed. In the last couple of years we have quietly entered the world of near-universal, single-connector docking. Like you I can rock up at my client site and by connecting a single USB-C lead I get power, wired networking, a headset dock, keyboard/mouse and an ultrawide monitor. It's the absolute danglies.

  14. TonyWilk

    Magnetic adapters are a thing...

    I'd rather stick to standard USB-C and buy a magnetic adapter

    1. Wibble

      Re: Magnetic adapters are a thing...

      If only people had developed them.

      There were some far-eastern copies but were totally useless because they didn't have strong enough magnets and the computer side USB-C plug was too small.

      1. Malcolm Weir

        Re: Magnetic adapters are a thing...

        My LG V60 second screen has one, and seems to work OK. Of course, LG is a "far eastern" company, so maybe that's what you mean?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Magnetic adapters are a thing...

          Sony also implemented a magnetically-secured charging system in their Xperia Z phones some time ago. I had the phone but didn't buy the official magnetic cable - or even a cheap 3rd party knock-off (Amazon reviews of the knock-off versions suggested that their magnets were too strong, eventually damaging the phone)

          1. PerlyKing Silver badge

            Re: Sony Xperia magnetic dock

            I had one of these and it was lovely except for one thing: it didn't work very well with a phone case, not even an official "Made For Xperia" one. Fortunately the dock itself had a large gap and came with a variety of adapters for different thicknesses of phone (Z3, Z3 Compact, etc.), and without any of the shims in place the phone in its case could sit in the dock. It was a bit wobbly, but that's where the magnets come in....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magnetic adapters are a thing...

        > If only people had developed them.

        You mean like this?

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Griffin-BreakSafe-Magnetic-USB-C-Cable-Silver-Black/dp/B01CQTK6GU

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Magnetic adapters are a thing...

          If only it supported 100W USB-PD instead of just 60W.

  15. Gonzo wizard
    Coffee/keyboard

    O. M. G.

    I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked(*). The Touch Bar is a gimmick? Never!!! MagSafe coming back? I better sit down.

    * I’m not shocked, but I am impressed that they’re willing to admit these were both dumb mistakes. Still won’t buy another tho.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: O. M. G.

      I too am speechless. Checking for the Seventh Sign, did hell freeze over?

  16. Jason Hindle

    I don’t mind USB-C

    Since the MacBook Air (late 2020 variant) is usually plugged into a hub when on the desk, USB-C has the slight advantage of just a single cable into the laptop. However, I prefer MagSafe and I’m not comfortable (although not yet hampered) with the parsimony of ports on the latest MacBooks. My 2015 Pro (13”) has MagSafe, 2 x USB3, Thunderbolt, HDMI and an SD Card reader.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge
    Alert

    Tempting fate?

    Given the EU's current hard-on for "standard"[1] charging adaptors and their proven willingness to fine the living fuck out of anyone who they think might be bending the rules, are Apple deliberately picking a fight here?

    [1] a.k.a. obsolete

    1. Malcolm Weir

      Re: Tempting fate?

      Odd that you think USB Type-C is "obsolete".

      (And the EU didn't, back in 2009, standardize on the Micro B connector; that was the manufacturers who picked that).

      Here's the current thinking from the EU: https://op.europa.eu/en/web/eu-law-and-publications/publication-detail/-/publication/c6fadfea-4641-11ea-b81b-01aa75ed71a1

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Tempting fate?

      Magsafe and USB C PD are not mutually exclusive on a laptop, any more than Willing charging and USB C are on a phone.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Tempting fate?

      >are Apple deliberately picking a fight here?

      No, the MacBook isn't a mobile phone.

      Also looking at the EU document Malcolm Weir links to, it seems the advice is for the EU to steer away from extending the current common charging standard for portable devices to laptops.

  18. DS999

    It would make more sense to use the same one the iPhone does

    And put a little circle of magnets on the bottom left AND bottom right of the back of the display! Then you'd be able to power it from either side, and fix one of the biggest annoyances with all models of laptop I've always had - that you usually seem to have your plug on the opposite side of where the power connects. You'd think that would only happen 50% of the time, but it is some sort of quantum mechanical thing similar to having to flip a USB-A connector three times to plug it in.

  19. Deltics

    The irony of 3rd party "magSafe"-like adapters...

    .. is that you can not only restore the magsafe experience to your USB-C equipped MacBook, but can also add it to your iPad or any other device that uses USB-C for charging.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The irony of 3rd party "magSafe"-like adapters...

      I'm tempted by a Magsafe style adaptor for my USB C phone, but unless it's very low profile it will sit proud of my phone's case - potentially transmitting shock from a fall directly to my phone rather than being reduced by the rubbery case.

      I might invest in a couple of Qi wireless charging pads instead, and pop a rubbery blanking piece in the phones USB C socket.

  20. TheDataRecoverer

    Bring back HDMI, & frankly SDxC was a handy storage extra for when the old space bought fell short of need. Yeah, yeah, "the cloud" can cover that, but still....

  21. tcmonkey

    Pleased to see the return of magsafe. Charger cost aside it always struck me as a good common-sense idea. It was terribly ironic that an idea made popular by Apple was (until recently) only seeing serious use in Microsoft products of all things. In saying that, I would now also miss being able to plug the charger in on whichever side of the machine is convenient, like you can with USB-C, which can be dead handy at times.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love the touch bar

    (body)

  23. DM2012

    Typing this on a 2020 16" MBP.

    I'm glad they've standardised on USB-C, which most other vendors have now too (although my Lenovo Thinkpad sitting next to me has both A and C which is nice). The dongle-madness is starting to finally flush through as more peripherals are USB-C native finally.

    As for the Touchbar - once they put the native Esc key back in, it became far less offensive, but doesn't really add much. I had the previous MBP without the Esc button AND the butterfly k/b and it was such a nightmare to work with I swapped it back out for my 2012 one. I've had BetterTouchTool for years on a bunch of Macs and once it got Touchbar support, I used it to add widgets to tell me my IP address, CPU load and the weather outside just to make it less useless. But overall, even after nearly 5 years the bar still doesn't really add any value.

    As for MagSafe - bring it on. Allow charging with USB-C if it's all that's available in an office, but for home, MagSafe is definitely the way to go.

  24. iancom

    USB-C Charging is the only thing I like about my MacBook

    Haven't used Mac hardware for over a decade and now I have one for my new job.

    The only thing I do like about it is that my desk is nice and tidy because there's literally just one USB-C cable coming out of it into my monitor. The monitor powers the laptop through that cable as well as receiving video and acting as a USB hub for the other peripherals.

    My Macbook remains permanently plugged into this arrangement. They really might as well have spent less than half that cost on a decent Dell laptop.

  25. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Boffin

    "MagSafe charging standard"?

    What standard? I like MagSafe, but I was annoyed that I couldn't use the old PSU from a broken MacBook Air with a new MacBook Air, because the MagSafe connector was a different size.

  26. DesktopGuy

    If true - would be a welcome backflip

    Magsafe has saved more times than I would like to admit.

    The only issues were dodgy cables that were prone to fray in earlier models (especially if wound too tight around base) and when things like small bits of gravel or even a part of a paper clip got stuck between housing and magnet!

    I don't know anyone that happy with the Touch Bar though.

    The original version integrated the escape key and had some serious issues.

    I have a 2016 MBP which won't load MacOS due to touchbar being damaged but works perfectly fine with Windows and Bootcamp which is ironic.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multiple USB-C

    Or Apple could simply add more USB-C ports to the laptop and allow it to be charged from any.

    The whole world is moving to USB-C and Apple wants to be non-standard, to (charge a premium)

  28. inglenook

    Touch is the real sign of progress

    The only feature that will signal the MacBook's progress out of the stone age is the arrival of a touch screen.

    I find it hard to believe that a premium laptop still does not offer a touch screen option in 2021. And I speak as an owner of a MacBook Pro.

    By comparison with this, the other features discussed are mere nitpicking.

  29. thondwe

    Err - Surface

    MS Surface power/docking connectors are the same thing??

    (And SD Card essential for Raspberry PI imaging!)

  30. charlieboywoof
    FAIL

    Current Apple

    Just shows TC doesn't have a clue.

  31. stringParameter

    To be honest, my M1 MacBook Air is either docked in my home office (which you can't trip over, because it's stuck to the table) or if I'm out and about the battery life is so long I wouldn't need the power brick, even over the course of a whole work day.

    MagSafe was more useful when you needed to take your power brick with you, because in those days the battery life was as little as 2-4 hours in many laptops.

  32. stringParameter

    The best thing Apple did - without which this progress would not be possible - was part ways with Jonny Ive.

    It was under Ive's tenure that the butterfly keyboard was redesigned (twice!). Rumors have it he was unwilling to budge on more and more issues, chasing thinness over everything else. I can imagine Apple getting to the point where they realized there was no longer a role for him.

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