Even after the long time it’s been around, there’s no denying the brilliance of MagSafe.
In my post a few months ago concerning the potential of a MacBook Pro redesign, I mentioned that I’d be baffled if they took away MagSafe – then a few days ago, they did. It was disconcerting at first, but I gave it a bit of thought and it turns out the tradeoff might be worth it.
Firstly, let’s address the current perception of MagSafe’s design among its users, in that it is now essential. I’ve obviously had this perception as well, even in the recent past. Well, think about what MagSafe replaced in the first place – bulkier and harder-to-pull-out connectors compared to what can be used today, mainly in the form of USB-C. I don’t know exactly how easy it is to pull out a USB-C cable from its port, but I can’t imagine it being any harder than with a Lightning connector. Sure, it’s harder for it to be pulled or yanked out than MagSafe, but probably not by that much. All of a sudden, MagSafe doesn’t feel so necessary. It’s still cool and I’m still sad to see it go, but it’s not as essential as I first thought.
Secondly, consider the weight of the MacBook Pro. We already live with much lighter devices which use Lightning cables that, if we’re being honest, have just as much a chance of being yanked out as the charging cable of a MacBook Pro. By nature of its weight difference, the MacBook Pro’s charging cable has less of a chance of death by yanking than an iOS device or Android device that uses Micro USB, for example. If many of us are willing to use our smartphones and tablets with a traditional type of connection, why not a MacBook Pro? (Also, I don’t see any MacBook users complaining about it. Not even one.)
Lastly, we come to the tradeoff made – in exchange for MagSafe, you can now charge through any port you want. This is not much of an advantage for the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro since it only has its USB-C ports on the left side, but for the ones with the Touch Bar, there are a couple of ports on either side. The main benefit I take from this is that the charging cable could be connected on either side of the Pro, not just the left side like MagSafe. Sure, it sounds like a small benefit, but it sounds significant enough to count it as a fair trade, I think.
Also, think of the general advantage that USB-C has over the various ports it replaces. In an ideal scenario where all your electronics use USB-C (or operate wirelessly e.g. AirPods), you no longer have to think about which cable goes into what port. You don’t even have to think about the orientation of the connector, it just plugs in. Of course, it’s still not reality, but getting rid of MagSafe can help get us to that ideal scenario.
Their decision to get rid of the SD card slot, though, is a whole ‘nother story. In a word: wrong. I’ll get to that in my longer write up about the “hello again” Apple event.