One of Apple’s greatest strengths has always been its obsessive attention to detail. Whether it’s almost-mythical stories about Steve Jobs picking fonts, or Apple’s demand for hardware free of unsightly seams, it’s often these little things that add up to make its customers feel like they’re in good, trustworthy hands.
But with its latest MacBooks, Apple is starting to do away with one of those special touches: MagSafe — the magnetic charging connector that MacBooks have been using for a decade.
MagSafe was one of those tiny but brilliant innovations that made you question how no one else had thought of it yet. Rather than having a power cable get locked into a laptop — leading to the possibility of someone tripping over the cable and yanking the computer onto the floor — Apple’s MagSafe cables attached magnetically; strong enough to hold on, but weak enough that they’d rip off instead of taking a computer with them.
With the switch over to USB-C for charging, MagSafe is almost nowhere in sight. While it’s still present on the MacBook Air, it’s absent from both the MacBook and the new MacBook Pro. And it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see it on any Apple laptops going forward. USB-C just isn’t meant for that kind of use.
To underscore just how much people love MagSafe, just look around at all of the products copying it. Microsoft’s Surface line uses a magnetic charger, and there’s a whole ecosystem of accessories built around the concept of "but what if we did it with magnets?" There’s MagSafe for headphone jacks, MagSafe for iPhone docks — there’s even a MagSafe for USB-C cords (though it’s probably not elegant enough for Apple’s tastes).
In exchange for MagSafe, MacBook Pro owners get the ability to charge their computer through any of the laptop’s four USB-C ports. There’s no arguing that that’s a kind of convenience. But losing the elegance of MagSafe makes this feel like one step forward, one step back. The first time I rip this new MacBook Pro off a table, I have no doubt I’ll wish MagSafe were still around.