New MacBooks say Goodbye to MagSafe

MagSafeConverterAs part of today’s new product announcements, one of Apple’s highlights was its entry-level MacBook systems that tout several new features, including Force-Touch trackpads, new Intel processors, and USB 3.1 Type-C connectors; however, in addition to this, Apple has left off its Magsafe power adapter, leaving these systems vulnerable to potential harm if a power cord is snagged.

Starting with the MacBook Pro in 2006, Apple introduced MagSafe as a quick way to power your laptop and also protect it from being yanked off your desk. If the cord did get snagged, in most cases the adapter would simply disconnect.

This technology was quickly adopted into Apple’s laptop lineup, but in today’s MacBook announcement, Apple has made an about-face by implementing USB Type-C for power.

Type-C is a relatively new connector for the USB 3.1 standard, that has a smaller profile than the classic Type-A connection, supports video signals, and like Apple’s Lightning connector, can be attached in any orientation. In addition, it allows for bidirectional power management, meaning that it can be used to both send power to your Mac, and draw power from your Mac for running external devices.

Given that USB Type-C can power the system, Apple has taken the approach to use it as the sole connector for the new MacBook, doing away with MagSafe. From a design standpoint this makes some sense, as it allows the system to only have one port for most connectivity purposes, but at the same time Apple has done away with the security offered by MagSafe.

USB Type-C adapter on a MacBook

The Type-C adapter here requires you plug your Mac in to power it, which may leave it susceptible to being yanked off a desk (image credit: Apple).

While the new USB Type-C connector is relatively low profile, it still requires inserting directly into your Mac and will only disconnect if pulled directly out the opposite direction. This means that if pulled at an angle, it may yank your Mac off wherever you have it seated.

The benefits of USB Type-C are quite clear, but anyone who has had kids, pets, or other high activity around their Macs will likely have benefitted from MagSafe more than once, so its departure will undoubtedly have its effects.

Hopefully Apple will come out with an adaptation of Type-C that will blend in a MagSafe-like quick-disconnect option, but until then, those who adopt Apple’s new systems will need to contend with this drawback, and ensure their systems are otherwise secured from an inadvertent yank when plugged in.

2 thoughts on “New MacBooks say Goodbye to MagSafe

  1. Howard Harrison

    I am considering purchasing a new 27 inch iMac with Retina Display, but in no rush to do so.

    There is a possibility upgraded iMacs may be issued in the September/October time frame. If and when new iMac models are eventually released, do you think the USB ports be USB type C?.

    Although I do not do any video processing or processor heavy duty tasking, if the iMacs are released with the Broadwell processor, is this another reason to delay purchase?

  2. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    No one outside Apple can say for sure, but iMacs are an unlikely candidate for USB Type-C. Apple is using it on the new MacBook to allow it to be slimed down and to eliminate extra IO ports. Anther reason for this is that the motherboard in the MacBook has also been dramatically reduced in size. Most of the space inside the housing is taken up by a lightweight multi-leaved battery.

    What Topher didn’t mention is that Apple is selling multi-port Type-C adaptor cables for the new MacBook, at $80 a pop, that can connect power, video and USB 3 through the Type-C port. What Apple doesn’t say is whether or not you can use a USB to Ethernet adaptor in the USB port for wired network access.

    I think, or rather I should say, I hope Apple will not strip their other laptops down any further for Type-C. Most of their laptops, particularly the Airs, are already port poor.

    Topher calls the new MacBook an entry-level device. And, by the specs, it is. It has a small, low power – in every sense of the word – Intel 14nm CPU. It has yet to be demonstrated what that CPU can do, performance-wise, other than conserve battery power. The new MacBook is fan-less and only comes with 8GB of RAM. You can get it with a 256 or 512GB PCIe based SSD. That, at least, will be fast. The only really high-end feature of the MacBook is a high-resolution 12 inch Retina Display that can show 1080p video at full resolution. And to add to its appeal, besides being relatively lightweight at 2 pounds, it comes in three colors, silver, gray and gold.

    It also has a new, “full” size keyboard backlit with individual LEDs in each keys. It’s no stretch to imagine these new keyboards in upcoming MacBook Pro iterations and probably in the Airs as well.

    Assuming the battery is as good as Apple claims, the safest way to us the new MacBook would be on battery power – without any attached peripherals.


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