Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MagSafe is Coming Back to the Mac: A Look Back at Apple's Original Magnetic Charging Technology

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,488
13,129


Surprise late night rumors last night provided us with our first in-depth look at what we can expect from the new MacBook Pro models that are coming in 2021, and there are some significant changes in the works.


Along with additional ports, a new flat-edged design, and the removal of the Touch Bar, Apple's updated MacBook Pro machines will readopt MagSafe.

MagSafe in the 2021 MacBook Pro Models

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will go back to a MagSafe charging connector, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in a separate report agreed and clarified that the MagSafe port will be a standalone charging port used instead of USB-C, with the new port located next to the USB-C ports.


The design of the new MagSafe connector will be similar to the design of the previous MagSafe connector used on Macs, and it will allow for faster charging speeds than are possible with USB-C.

MagSafe 1 - 2006

MagSafe first debuted in January of 2006 when Apple launched the first-ever MacBook Pro, which was also the first Mac laptop with an Intel chip inside. There have been a total of two versions of MagSafe, and the 2006 MacBook Pro used the original MagSafe connector.


The first MagSafe port featured a square-shape design with five holes, which attached to an accompanying connector using a magnetic connection. The idea was that if the connector was tugged, it would detach quickly and smoothly without causing damage to the MagSafe port or pulling the MacBook Pro off of a table or desk.


As with USB-C, MagSafe had a design that allowed the connector to be attached to a Mac in either orientation, and charging was even simpler than with USB-C because there was no need to enter a cable into a port - you just lined up the connector and it adhered right in place magnetically. Apple developed 45W, 60W, and 85W MagSafe connectors for various machines.


Initially, Apple used a T-shaped design that directed the cable straight out from a machine, but the original MagSafe was transitioned to an L-shaped design that positioned the cable on the side of a computer. The T-shaped design was used from 2006 to 2009, while the L-shaped design was used from 2010 through 2012.

MagSafe 2 - 2012

Apple in 2012 introduced a new version of MagSafe called MagSafe 2, featuring a thinner and wider port and a new connector design that was suited to the thinner Macs that Apple unveiled that year. MagSafe 2 connectors were not compatible with original MagSafe ports, requiring an adapter.


Apple went back to its T-shaped design for MagSafe 2 and stuck with it for the life of MagSafe, and this is likely the same design and cable orientation that we'll see in the 2021 MacBook Pro models.


MagSafe Discontinuation

In 2016, with the introduction of the USB-C MacBook Pro models, Apple began discontinuing MagSafe. MacBook Pro models released between 2016 and 2020 do not use MagSafe technology and instead charge through one of the machine's USB-C ports. MagSafe was fully phased out of the Mac lineup, and the last machine with MagSafe, the 2017 MacBook Air, was discontinued by Apple in July 2019.

MagSafe's Return

Apple started bringing back MagSafe in 2020 with the launch of the iPhone 12 lineup. The iPhone 12 models feature a built-in ring of magnets to support a magnetic wireless charger option which Apple has named MagSafe, and soon, MagSafe charging could be revived across Apple's product lineup.


Based on the rumors we've heard so far, it sounds like the upcoming MagSafe connector in the 2021 MacBook Pro models will look similar to the MagSafe 2 connector that has since been discontinued. It is unlikely to be identical, however, as it is said to charge new MacBook Pro models more quickly than USB-C.

Past MagSafe cords were prone to breakage and fraying around the charging connector, so Apple may have a new design in mind for the 2021 MacBook Pro models to alleviate the problem.

In the past, Apple has not licensed its MagSafe technology, but that could change for the 2021 MacBook Pro models. Apple is allowing third-party companies to develop MagSafe-based charging options for the iPhone, so this time around, we could potentially see third-party MagSafe charging solutions for the Mac, but that's not guaranteed.

MagSafe Hardware

With Apple planning to debut a new MagSafe connector option, it's a sign that the hardware needed to charge a Mac will continue to be shipped with Mac machines. With the 2020 iPhones, Apple stopped providing power adapters for charging purposes, but it doesn't seem like that's a move that will expand to the Mac lineup.

The switch back to MagSafe is likely to be popular with MacBook Pro owners who have been missing the feature since Apple transitioned to USB-C. In fact, the new MacBook Pro models appear to be removing all of the features that Mac owners have complained about, including the Touch Bar that has never caught on the way that Apple hoped it would, and the limited number of ports on USB-C machines.

Article Link: MagSafe is Coming Back to the Mac: A Look Back at Apple's Original Magnetic Charging Technology
 
Last edited:

Mazda 3s

macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2006
440
172
They should have never removed it. I bought a 2017 MacBook Pro, and it didn't take long for my 1-year (at the time) to walk around the kitchen table and pull it to the ground as he tripped over the power cord. Dented the s**t out of the top lid, but at least it still worked and closed properly.
 
Comment

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
6,388
10,077
Florida, USA
I still have a MagSafe-era Macbook Pro, but one thing I had been looking forward to when I do decide to upgrade has been USB-C charging and being able to use such a wide variety of charging devices, like powerbanks, power strips with USB-C PD ports (Anker makes some really nice ones) and so on. Requiring MagSafe for charging basically means you need a line level (120/240V) power outlet and the original Apple charging brick to charge your MacBook.

So I hope if this rumor is true and Apple brings MagSafe charging back to the MacBook, that the USB-C ports are still usable to charge with, even if it's slower.
 
Comment

jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
3,540
2,541
So while I am happy MagSafe is coming back, I hope it isn't at the expense of USB-C charging. Having one single cable to dock my laptop is awesome (Charging + display + ethernet + keyboard/mouse + external storage.) Also being able to choose either side to charge on.

Not sure that I would want MagSafe that also provided data, to easy to accidentally disconnect.
 
Comment

JPack

macrumors 604
Mar 27, 2017
6,819
11,571
Apple patented this in 2016.


1610742287746.png


"Connector adapters that may have a MagSafe connector receptacle and a Universal Serial Bus Type-C connector insert. This may allow MagSafe chargers to be used to charge devices having Universal Serial Bus Type-C connector receptacles. This also may provide the breakaway characteristic of a MagSafe connector system for a device that does not include a MagSafe connector receptacle. Other adapters may have other types of magnetic connector receptacles and connector inserts."
 
Comment

MacFan23

macrumors 6502
Feb 17, 2010
392
402
I still have a MagSafe-era Macbook Pro, but one thing I had been looking forward to when I do decide to upgrade has been USB-C charging and being able to use such a wide variety of charging devices, like powerbanks, power strips with USB-C PD ports (Anker makes some really nice ones) and so on. Requiring MagSafe for charging basically means you need a line level (120/240V) power outlet to charge your MacBook.

So I hope if this rumor is true and Apple brings MagSafe charging back to the MacBook, that the USB-C ports are still usable to charge with, even if it's slower.
This. I've loved being able to cut down the number of cables when traveling and moving everything across to a unified port, the convenience of being able to use non propriety charging cable and the convenience of docking through one cable to a desk set up. Being able to charge on either side was also a great bonus.
 
Last edited:
Comment

BeefCake 15

macrumors 68000
May 15, 2015
1,601
2,128
near Boston, MA
This. I've loved being able to cut down the number of cables when traveling and moving everything across to a unified port, the convince of being able to use non propriety charging cable and the convince of docking through one cable to a desk set up. Being able to charge on either side was also a great bonus.
You don't have to convince me!
 
Comment

swm

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2013
359
529
i loved MagSafe 1, and still prefer the design over MagSafe 2. that first gen MBA was the king. i sold mine after 5 years, but i totally regret it. it was a way more refined design than the current wedge shaped stuff i own (and also love, but not that much).
 
Comment

ineedanaccont

macrumors newbie
Aug 13, 2011
22
21
I haven't bought any Mac portable laptop and kept using my 2015 MBP which has magsafe. Work issued me a 2017 with USB-C charging but it sits in the corner because I find the USB-C connector too fragile. I had the connector yanked out many times becuse peoples ankles catch the power cord.

I don't see much benefit because it's not like you can just grab a standard USB-C phone charger to charge your laptop you still need a high powered USB-C charging adapter depending on which laptop you have.
 
Comment

KoolAid-Drink

macrumors 68000
Sep 18, 2013
1,516
486
USA
So stupid that they got rid of this! I upgraded last year and within the first week I tripped over the cord and brought my brand new Macbook Pro tumbling to the ground... This would never have happened with the MagSafe.
Did it get damaged?
 
Comment

MJaP

macrumors member
Mar 14, 2015
93
224
I would hope they go the same way as Microsoft's Surface line where they have their version of magsafe but you can also still use the USB-C ports to charge it you'd prefer.

Basically, give us options and let us use whichever solution is most convenient for us at that moment.
 
Comment

jorgk

macrumors regular
Mar 20, 2013
104
23
I hate MagSafe. It falls out all the time and the power supply is permanently connected with a cable.

Throwing MagSafe was Apple's best idea.

???
So glad my 2012 MBP has (the early) MagSafe. Never had any problem of it 'falling out' unless this rescued it from falling off somewhere.
I think it will be one big incentive for those that were used to it to buy new hardware again. Even so the once big freedom on the Mac platform is basically gone with all the security hype.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.