You know that satisfying “clunk” you get when the magnetic charging jack snaps itself into the side of your Apple MacBook?
That’s about to disappear.
There are rumours that Apple will ditch its MagSafe magnetic charger for an extremely ordinary USB Type-C Port on its upcoming line of MacBook Airs.
If the speculation is true, it’s a massive mistake. I love the magnetic charger jack. It works like magic. You don’t really have to get the jack properly into the hole — it just slots itself right in there due to that magnet thingy. It’s one of the most simple and most clever parts of MacBook’s hardware.
Why would Apple want to get rid of that in favour of a USB jack?
As my colleague Sam Colt notes, the MagSafe charger was introduced in June 2006 as a practical way to prevent clumsy users from inadvertently damaging their laptops when they accidentally yank the cable. Because the charger is magnetic, it immediately separates from your laptop when pressure is applied. So if, for example, you trip over the charging chord, there is no risk of accidentally yanking your laptop off your desk and watching the expensive device crash to the floor. Upon launch it was lauded as an “another niche innovation,” and it’s been the gold standard for power adaptors ever since.
Apple even made a hilarious ad with John Hodgman in 2007 espousing the benefits of MagSafe:
According to a series of mockups produced by 9to5Mac, the keyboard on the new Airs will stretch edge-to-edge, and the device will be significantly slimmer than its predecessor. But to accommodate the new thinness, Apple will have to abandon its standard ports. The USB Type-C port will be capable of charging as well as transmitting data.
But the MagSafe is massively popular with Apple customers — it’s a classic design. It’s an incredibly elegant solution to an age-old problem, and on a personal level, it just feels like the future. It’s miles ahead of anything else on the market, and USB Type-C would be a big step back.
After all, everybody else’s computers have standard USB ports. They’re dirt-common.
The response on Twitter to the rumours has been shock and disbelief:
If you think MagSafe is going away, you probably haven’t used MagSafe.Sure it’s possible, but it is a magnificent technology to use.
— Mike Oertli (@mikeoertli) January 8, 2015
Other Apple fans are in no doubt about their opinion of non-magnetic charging:
It’s always surprised me that MagSafe hasn’t been universally copied in PC craptops. But then they’re Frankensteinian boxes of components.
— Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell) January 7, 2015
Gonna be seriously pissed if Apple gets rid of the MagSafe connector, that’s the sole reason I switched to a Mac in the first place.
— Daniel (@nevioth) January 8, 2015
Apple has always prized aesthetics. Its design is without equal; when it debuts a new product, rivals are invariably left playing catch-up. But until now, this design has never really been at the expense of functionality. In the rush to shave a few millimetres off its product, Apple is ditching a feature that is loved by millions, especially me, and MacBooks will be poorer for it.
Think again, Tim Cook. Please.