All iPads Why no magnetic Magsafe-style connector?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by kalt, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. kalt macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    Can anyone tell me why Apple didn't use a magnetic connector for iOS devices like they do for the Macbooks? When I heard Apple was coming out with a new "Lightning" connector to replace the 30 pin model I was sure it would be like the magnetic Magsafe connector used on Macbooks (I realize they just charge but there's no reason it couldn't sync as well).

    Knowing that there could have been a magnetic connector that just effortlessly clicks in, the lightning connector has been a huge disappointment. How is it any better than the 30-pin connector except for being able to put it in either way? At least the 30 pin connector could slip in and out without much force, the Lightning connector clicks in so tight it makes iphone/ipad docks entirely worthless - you don't want to have to grab the dock, hold it down, and forcefully pluck your device out of want to be able to easily slide it right out (or in). A connection like the Magsafe would be a huge improvement. Frankly i can't think of a better way to connect a charge/sync cable to an iphone or ipad.

    Is there a technical reason why Apple didn't use a magnetic connector like the Magsafe on the iphone/ipad? It really bothers me that Apple has the technology available in other products, finally decided to replace the old 30-pin connector, but didn't use their superior tech. Yes, yes, I know children are starving in africa dying from aids covered in tsetse flies as they have their hands chopped off by religious nuts, but problems and annoyances all come on a sliding scale and this forum is about Apple products.
  2. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Try charging iOS device while using it for game. Then you'll understand.

    Spoiler: something about cable falling off.
  3. haruhiko macrumors 601


    Sep 29, 2009
    Because 30-pin or lightning connector is not only for charging, but also for a lot of peripherals, Apple may not like it to fall off so easily.
  4. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    As I understand it, the purpose of the magnetic connector on MacBooks is to prevent the computer from being dragged off the desk if somebody walks by and trips on the charging cable. Not as much of an issue with smaller devices like iPhones and iPads -- even if someone walking by trips on the cable and the device goes sliding off, it's not as damaging as a laptop falling off a table.

    On the other hand, since the iDevice cable syncs as well as charges, I think it'd be a problem if the cable accidentally disconnected during syncing. And magnetic connectors would be more prone to that. I like that the lightning connectors fit very snugly, even more so than the 30-pin connectors, so I no longer have to worry about it disconnecting while syncing.
  5. kalt thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    I said I'm aware that the Magasafe is just for charging while the 30-pin and lightning connectors are for both charging and syncing. That's not a reason the connection can't be magnetic. Totally irrelevant. A cable is a cable. It could easily be modified to do both, assuming any modification is necessary at all. We put a man on the moon in 1969, surely we could make a cable that charges also sync.

    Yes, having it disconnect when someone walks by and trips on the cable is a good feature for a laptop. It's also a good feature for an ipad and iphone. Even if you were syncing it (with the power outlet at the coffee shop?) when it got disconnected, it's not a big problem, just re-sync it later. Better than having the cord torn or your device broken. Being able to disconnect if a lot of sudden force is suddenly applied to the cable is a good feature to have. There's no reason ipads/iphones couldnt use that feature but a laptop could.

    The magsafe is a pretty solid connection. It's stronger than some 3rd party 30-pin connections i've seen.

    Meanwhile the lightning connector connects so tight, it makes all docks completely worthless. I can take my iphone and swing it around my head with the lightning connector locked in place. No, i wouldn't really do that but i could. It connects much more tightly than any 30-pin connector ever did. You can convince yourself that this is an improvement or 'feature' but it's not. a certain amount of force on the cable should cause it to disconnect - that is a feature. If a strong connection is desired, why not have it screw or latch in place so you have to push a button to disconnect it?
  6. samiznaetekto macrumors 65816

    Dec 26, 2009
    It has to do with the weight of the devices. On a 5lbs laptop, MagSafe does its job. Put it on a 20x lighter device (iPhone, ~100 grams), and it will be pulled to the floor by the tripped cable. Reduce the magnet 20x? Then it will be very insecure and will disconnect during sync or charge even by a slight vibration.

    Limbo. Hence, Magsafe does not make sense on ultralight devices.

    Dock makers can simply make the connector slightly narrower and without notches that engage the positive coupling with the device.
  7. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Thinking about it some more, OP's main issue is that the lightning connector doesn't detach easily enough. Magnetic connection is one possible solution, but simply making the connectin looser would work, too. Or having a latch release, as OP suggested in a later post.

    Why Apple decided a secure connection is more important than quick release? Who knows? I know I feel better about not having it disconnect during a sync -- it always makes me nervous when that happens, because I feel like that could corrupt some files, which would then sit there taking up space until I restored the device.
  8. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Totally relevant. Plugs come out very easily with magsafe connections. Interrupting power supply may not be a big deal. Interrupting data transfer may be a big deal.
  9. Donka macrumors 68030


    May 3, 2011
    A number of practical reasons why it's not needed but the biggest issue is data as many have noted. There is a reason why you should eject a usb flash drive before disconnecting. If you interrupt any data flow then you face a real risk of data corruption.
  10. kalt thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    What are people doing when syncing that would cause the cable to come out of the phone? And what about the USB connection to the computer? That comes out pretty easily... nothing holding that in there other than friction. Lots of people sync via WiFi now anyway, which makes that whole argument moot. But if you're syncing via cable you are always aware of it, and you put your ipad/iphone down next to your computer, click sync, and wait a few minutes. Playing tetherball with your iphone is tons o' fun, but you never do it while syncing.

    Also, unlike a power cord that plugs into a wall outlet, syncing to a computer via cable doesn't involve a cable being plugged into the wall or the floor or whatever, so it's highly unlikely anyone (certainly not you) is going to trip over it.

    So what some of you are saying is if you have your sync cable plugged in and somehow someone knocks into it while you're syncing, you'd rather have your iphone or ipad go flying off the table and land on the floor due to the tight locked-in connection of a lightning cable as opposed to having the cable safely pop out of your device and requiring you to re-sync it again.

    Come on, that holds no water. There may be a valid technical reason but "making sure the cable doesn't come undone during a sync" is not one of them. Even if it does get disconnected during a sync, it's not going to destroy your device (yes i'm sure there's someone out there who had their iDevice corrupted, catch fire and explode in their face during an interrupted/defective sync but it's certainly not the norm).
  11. Donka macrumors 68030


    May 3, 2011
    Your argument in bold doesn't add up - sure lots of people sync via Wifi but not everyone there for it is not a moot point. Lots of people still restore or upgrade their devices connected via iTunes, not just sync. A disconnection during that process could well brick the device. Apple need to try and consider every possible situation and plan accordingly. If there is a risk of data corruption or killing a device by using a cable that is too easily disconnected in error then why take that risk? Just because that seems unlikely in your usage, it doesn't mean it won't affect others. Do you not have pets or kids by any chance? ;)
  12. viewfly macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2009
    Why no magnetic Magsafe-style connector?

    There would be a number of engineering issues and functions to content with.

    1. iPhone is too light for break away feature to really work.
    2. Size of magnets takes always precious space from phones interior and connector size.
    3. Materials. Aluminum is not magnetic. So magnets required in both ends or added metal to each. Possible antenna problem resulting.
    4. Magnets interference with internal iphone compass calibration and accuracy during use.
    5. During a phone restore or software upgrade you must not remove cable at critical stages. Bricking phone can result. That is different than synching.
    6. The length of the connector (30pin too) does provide needed support for vertical docking. A short Mac magnetic connector would not and still function as you desire. iPhone would not stand up.

    That a lot to overcome for a break away function that really not going to function as well. Only ease of attaching and removal would result. And as someone said, it may come off too easily while using the phone during active gaming.

    Besides the tight connector actually saved my phone from hitting the cement floor once!
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think the simplest reason is that the cable would fall off too easily - especially during usage.

    The other issues as mentioned is that its used for other purposes then just charging also mean a magsafe type connector doesn't make too sense.
  14. Beta Particle macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2012
    Actually, I've seen plenty of MacBooks pulled off desks by the MagSafe cord. It's really more of a convenience and a way to protect the port, rather than protecting the device being pulled off a desk.
  15. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    Seems like a top reason is that it would just pull the iphone or ipad right off the desk anyways. So, why go through all that?
  16. kalt thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    So if laptops with magsafe can get pulled off the desk, they're good solid connections, not as 'locked in' as the lightning port but the notion that they fall off at the slightest touch is false.

    Why should one product have a "pulled off the desk proof" connection while others shouldn't? I don't want my ipad flying off the desk.

    Yes, many sync via wifi but some don't. I don't like the wifi sync, it's too unreliable. I sync via cable. I'm not worried about anything flying off the desk.
  17. rkuo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2010
    The lightning port is structural and designed to support the weight of the phone (or tablet) via the connector as well as stay secure when a cable is connected. This facilitates a number of docks and other accessories.

    If it were designed purely to transmit power, you would get some of the advantages you are talking about via MagSafe. But then the connector would be less compact (a problem on mobile devices) and invalidate multiple accessory categories.
  18. takeshi74, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    Have you read anything on the Lightning connector? Why do you think a magnetic connection is all that matters?

    Hold on. Assuming is not a reason. You provide the support if you're going to argue that it doesn't matter. Have you designed magnetic cable connectors for data transmission? What mobile device development experience do you have? You're summarily dismissing reasons without even knowing the various concerns involved.

    If you want to talk about irrelevant the Apollo missions are irrelevant to iPad connectors.

    Nonsense. Again, you can't argue in general terms relying on your particular preferences. I and many other find worth in our Lightning docks.

    If you want to rant, that's fine. Just don't try to present it as some sort of argument when it isn't. This discussion isn't going to go anywhere as long as you cherry pick data, rely on your preferences and dismiss technical concerns without any knowledge of them. This isn't a new topic and it has been discussed before so don't overlook prior discussions.
  19. Night Spring, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    USB connectin comes out easily? What are you talking about? They take almost as much force to pull off as the lightning connector.

    And I like to do other things on my computer while waiting for my iDevices to sync, so I don't want to hold my breath making sure I don't bump the lightning cable while I'm doing things at my desk.

    Why would the device go flying off? Both the USB connection and lightning connection holds, most of the time, and at most, the device slips off the desk and dangles from the desk by the cord. Now, if it is connected to a light notebook like the MacBook Air, there is a chance that it'll pull the MacBook down with it, but if you're close enough, there's plenty of time to rescue them before they go clashing down.
  20. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Most cords for iPads and iPhones don't hang down from the floor.

    That is, a power cord for a laptop comes from the wall up to the laptop. iPads and iPhones are connected directly to the computer so the risk of tripping or pulling the cord is extremely low.

    You sound like you're searching for a problem that doesn't exist to justify the solution
  21. iCarabma macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2012
    Size Matters

    It's all about size.

    They designed the lighting cable to be as small as possible. Not only the port on the outside, but the port on the inside.

    Space is premium when it comes to charges. Putting magnets inside the phone may seem like a small thing, but it would mean less room for something else.

    And they can't tinker with it. Once they decide in a port, they are committed to 10 years.

    Oh and further, I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get dialed into enough force to hold your charger on the phone but to release the phone it the cord is yanked.
  22. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    At the weight required to make a magnetic connector "safe" for an iPhone? Merely picking up the phone would likely be enough force to disconnect it.

    Very likely, there'd be LOTS of users annoyed by that, compared the number of users annoyed that it doesn't currently exist... all 1 of you.

    There must be something wrong with your phone or connector, because the USB connections on my computers are as strong, or stronger than, the lightning connector on my iPhone 5s and iPad Air, and on my significant other's iPhone 5.

    Not at all. Software restores and syncs of large amounts of data still go way faster via cable than they do over Wifi. An iTunes restore also requires a cable.

    Sooo... the primary reason for magsafe - to prevent damage when one trips on a cable - is moot on iOS devices. So basically... it doesn't need magsafe.

    Actually, I'm gonna stick wight he argument YOU just made: trips and accidentall knocks don't happen nearly as often because the sync cable in many cases isn't plugged into the wall, obviating the need for such a thing.

    Combine that with the fact that engineering a MagSafe cable would mean severely weakening the connection so that it's practically useless, AND switching to a whole new connector AGAIN, after everyone was griping about the previous switch, and I think it's pretty clear, we don't need MagSafe on iOS devices, thanks.
  23. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I sync via cable and I'm sure many other people also sync via cable.
  24. kalt thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    I just hear people bashing Apple's magnetic connector (remember, it's an apple product made by apple and designed by apple) to justify the lightning port.

    Yes, I've read about the lightning port. The big "plus" about it is it can be put in either direction unlike the 30-pin connector. And it has a cool-sounding name. It's a little smaller too which i suppose leaves a little more room for speakers/mics on the bottom of an iphone but that's never been an issue. Is it faster? No. It doesn't even do USB 3.0 (nor do the devices). I figured USB 3.0 would be the big advance of the lightning cable.

    So tell me, what are these big advantages to the lightning connection over the 30-pin connection that i'm missing. And then tell me why those advances couldn't be applied to a connection like MagSafe. Remember, the same principle of not wanting a chord ripping your device or sending it flying across the room applies to iphones and ipads just like macbooks. When a strong magnet is touching something it attracts to, it holds very well, but at the same time it doesn't require any material-on-material friction to come undone. It's the perfect connection and it's not hypothetical. Apple makes it right now.

    And yes, if a connection locks in tightly the way lightning connections do, docks become pointless. Maybe you're happy having to yank your device out of a dock and push hard to force it to click into one, but I'm certainly not and your happiness about it is pure sour grapes, and deep down you know it (like the handful of people who say they really like the crappy color gamut on the miniR 'better' than the big ipad b/c they can't admit there is anything negative about their purchase).

    So tell me what all these amazing advances are with the lightning cable. I've been using one for well over a year now (now i'm using two) and i see zero improvement over the old 30-pin. But i have an open mind - please educate me.
  25. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    Sounds like you've discovered a project for kickstarter or indiegogo.

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