MagSafe Is Cool, but Is It Worth the Trade-Offs?

I’ve never understood the point of wireless charging. If it were ubiquitous, and you could charge anywhere you go just by flopping your phone onto a table, great! But currently you still have to bring the charger and cable (which are bulkier than the equivalent wired cable for a phone) and find somewhere to plug it into the wall. There’s no advantage imho.

There’s also a significant disadvantage: you waste tons of electricity if you charge wirelessly. I’ve seen manufacturer estimates of power loss (compared with a wired charger) of 10 to 20%, with extreme estimates much, much higher – as much as 50% ( In a world where so much electric power is generated by burning greenhouse gases and where we’re facing a climate disaster, multiplying that power loss by a billion phones is unacceptable. It’s simply a bad idea thermodynamically.


Unfortunately, you are right. Apple is removing all physical ports from the iPhone just like they removed most of them from the Mac. Sorry, but I do not see that as a good thing. Bluetooth is slow as molasses and secure WiFi is still not everywhere.

I’m reminded of this each time I look at my 17” PowerBook G4 or 17” MacBook Pro. Remember all the laptop “niceties” Apple has taken away from us in the last 5-10 years, things like battery light indicators, sleep/wake light, backlit Apple logo, MagSafe charging, Kensington lock slot, as well as a plethora of useful plug-in ports too numerous to mention. You can’t even use an Ethernet cable now without buying an adapter! Ridiculous.

Why ridiculous? I miss a lot of those other things you list (especially indicator lights & lock slot), but just imagine if every MacBook had to be made thick enough to house an Ethernet jack. It’s a fairly large port by today’s standards. I love Gigabit and I use it a lot. But would I want my MBP base to be made twice its current thickness so it can house a Gigabit jack? No.


Ridiculous because I haven’t bought into the thinness Kool-aid for either iPhones or Macs. There was a time when we wouldn’t have questioned the number of ports on a Mac. Many people don’t like the number of adapters that need to be bought for today’s models. I have to carry around a USB-A adapter just to use my Verizon modem and that’s only one of several. And multi-adapters are just as big a pain.

I guess you never had to lug a heavy laptop up and down stairs and on public transportation at least twice a day, five days a week. This is especially horrible during rush hours, and when the weather is bad, and/or you are wearing high heels; it’s very often a combination of all three. The extra weight and size is also a major pain when you have to drag a heavier laptop around airports along with luggage. And these scenarios gets worse as one ages and aching backs and bad knees make awkward, uncomfortable and annoying situations even more painful and awful.

I still swear that my MacBook Pro more than doubles in weight by the end of every day I’ve had to drag it around. IMHO, thinness is better, and I’m sure that a big % of frequent users of public transportation, frequent travelers, students and teachers scrambling between classes and around campuses, and many other demographic and age groups, will agree with me. I’ll gladly sacrifice extra ports for thinness and lightness.


You make very wrong assumptions about me. I haven’t owned a car in 20 years, so I literally LIVE on public transportation. I happily carried each of my 17” PB G4/MBP computers to and from work five days a week, on the bus, when each was my daily driver. I don’t wear high heels, but I do have arthritis and other medical issues which keep me in almost constant pain. I liked knowing that those computers were self-contained units that didn’t need anything else connected to them to do my work. I would go back to using them in a heartbeat if I had my choice, despite their weight.

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There are trade-offs for almost everything, and also work-arounds. For example, you can easily overcome the thinness issue with a tiny, inexpensive hub using one of the USB-C ports. The hub I purchased back in 2018 (now pretty much a commodity) weights a shade over 2 ounces with a 4-inch body and a 6-inch cable that wraps back to create a compact package. The hub has 3 USB2 ports, an HDMI port, 2-differently sized FlashCard ports, a cleverly designed Ethernet port, and a USB-C port. It easily fits into almost any bag or case you would use with a modern Mac Portable, leaving the whole package thinner and lighter than the machines you harken back to.

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Often no adapter is needed, just the right cable. I for example needed this at home.
And if you don’t want to swap cables, something as simple as this will do the trick.

There’s really inexpensive but simple solutions for multiple ports

And then there’s much more fancy solutions with more than just USB that are still quite affordable. (Wirecutter pick)
Or finally, solutions that basically cater to any demand you could ever have like

I’d argue at almost every budget there’s rather good solutions that span from tiny dongles to quite full featured docks.

The versatility we have however gained on MBPs in that we now have four universal high-performance ports that can be whatever we need them to be at any given time (including power up to 100W) I personally find really quite awesome. In my book that’s a true pro feature. And it puts a smile on my face every time I walk past one of our older workstations with those humongous DVI-I ports. :wink: And don’t even get me started on 100-pin SCSI interfaces. :laughing:

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Thanks, I’ve got one of those that I purchased from Amazon. It works ok but I’d still rather have the ports built right into the laptop. It’s kind of unsightly to me to see things like that hanging off the computer!

Thanks for the suggestions and Amazon links, I appreciate them. I guess each to his/her own where these preferences are concerned. By the way, both my mentioned 17" Macs are still in perfect working order and I still use them at home in my retrocomputing hobby…

:+1: Great to hear. :slight_smile: There’s nothing like old Macs still running as good as when they were brand new. :heart:

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I have a iPhone 12 mini, and MagSafe chargers. I think that it is a good feature. I mount the chargers to the underside of my bedside and office tables using double-sided tape, so that the phone is out of the way. Whether the magnet is strong enough for larger phones, I don’t know.

Besides saving table space, another benefit is that charging/uncharging is a one-hand step. And there’s less uncertainty of whether it is charging, compared to Qi.

A problem I have had, is that there are few MagSafe cases available. The Apple ones IMO are super-overpriced. I now have a Spigen case with magnets in it (Mag Armor), which works well. Mous cases have their own magnetic mounting system, which doesn’t stick to MagSafe chargers.

Potentially removing physical port, and not including the wall plug or MagSafe disc charger aside, I am a convert to phone MagSafe.


I stumbled on this idea, too — mounting the MagSafe puck on the underside of the hutch on my desk — and it’s pretty fantastic. I really only charge my phone at night (iPhone 12 Pro), so I don’t need to see the screen while it’s on the charger anyway, and it means zero chargers or cables cluttering my desk.

The magnets seem more than strong enough to support the 12 Pro, tho’ I do have a MagSafe case on my phone; I don’t know whether I’d feel as great about it with a non-MagSafe case weakening the attraction.

Chargers have always felt messy to me, like they’re all necessary but inconvenient kludges; mounting MagSafe like this feels like an elegant solution.