Vale the MagSafe connector

This week, Apple released a MacBook Pro that charges via USB-C connector[1]. The MagSafe connector, introduced almost exactly ten years ago [2] is no longer a feature of the Mac. This was a controversial omission, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making out.

The just-announced MacBooks Pro claim 10 hours of battery life. Based on Apple’s recent battery claims -vs- reality, you really are going to get a full work-day on battery, unless you’re frequently compiling in Xcode, or using gmail in Chrome.

When the MagSafe connector was introduced, Macs could run for, realistically, 2-3 hours, at best, on a single charge. And usable battery capacity degraded much more quickly, so a year-old Mac was never very far from a power supply.

With your original MacBook Pro, you found yourself running cables across walkways to make sure you were powered whenever you could be. With today’s Mac, you’re almost certain to unplug and work half the day on battery, if you’re away from your desk.

Here’s another thing: at my work, every desk has a charge cable integrated in the desk. That’s pretty common, and failing that, you likely have power built into your desk – this was much less common a decade ago.

In 2006, your laptop had to have a distinct charger. In that case, it may as well be a MagSafe [3]. Now a MagSafe port would have made the laptop bigger, removed a port, or both.

The MagSafe connector was a wonderful thing. I’m sure it saved countless laptops from catastrophic damage. In 2016’s Mac laptops, the trade offs are different and MagSafe was not valuable enough to warrant valuable space on the device.

You may not like this particular trade off, and that’s fine, but this is not a sign that Apple is becoming more arrogant, or that Apple has lost its way. This is exactly the kind of choice Apple has been making for 15 years now.

  1. [1]The MacBook already has this change, so it’s not completely unexpected that this would happen
  2. [2]The MagSafe connector first appeared on the first MacBook Pro, introduced January 10, 2006
  3. [3]there was no port that could charge, or perform some other function, depending on what was plugged into it