One of the subtler design changes in Apple’s recent MacBook and MacBook Pro models was the replacement of Apple’s magnetically detaching MagSafe charger with standard USB-C ports for charging the laptops. In the past, Apple has made no secret of its efforts to enforce its MagSafe patents, so it was a little surprising to see them switch to USB-C. And the jury is still out as to whether or not that was the right move. In the time since the 12-inch MacBook launched in 2015 — and particularly in the wake of the more recent USB-C MacBook Pros from last year — there have been no shortage of enterprising companies looking to fill the magnetic charging void that Apple has left on its laptop.
We’ve covered a bunch of these in the past: Griffin’s BreakSafe cable, which was one of the first to reach the market; the MagNeo, which was the first to offer charging and data; the AnyWatt dongle, a Kickstarter campaign that promises to let you use your old MagSafe chargers with your new MacBook; and even Apple is rumored to be working on a solution of some kind.
But it seems that the marketplace isn’t quite saturated enough yet, which is why we have two new entrants in the “USB-C MagSafe adapter” field making the rounds this week.
First up is the MagC, another Kickstarter project that claims to offer “the best of three worlds” in combining USB-C and MagSafe. It works more or less the same as most of the other adapters: a small USB-C attachment is plugged into one of the ports by your laptop, which a magnetic connector then attaches to in turn to charge. (MagC claims their cable supports up to 100W.) Unlike most of the other breakaway cables, the MagC claims to support Thunderbolt 3 data transfer as well as charging, which is nice.
Otherwise, most interesting addition from the MagC, aside from the relatively low profile of the adapter, is that the connector for the wall plug also accepts a USB-C port, instead of being a wholly proprietary power cable. On the less useful side of things, the MagC resurrects the original L-shaped connector from the first generation of the MagSafe “to honor Steve Job’s original design,” which is a terrible reason to embrace a worse design. The MagC is available for an early-bird price of $29 on Kickstarter, and expects to ship in December, although the usual crowdfunding warnings apply.
There’s also the Vinpok Bolt-S, which is up for preorder at Vinpok’s website for $29.99 (The company says it will eventually cost $60.) Like the other options, it features a small adapter to plug into your laptop, or other USB-C device, with a proprietary magnetic connector that attaches for charging.
Vinpok’s claim to fame with the Bolt-S is that it’s the first cable to support the 87 watts that Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar’s charger supplies, which may or may not be true, depending on whether or not it hits the market before the MagC. And like the Griffin BreakSafe, it only supports charging, not data transfer. Vinpok isn’t saying when the Bolt-S will actually ship — in fact, the preorder page currently doesn’t even work — so it’s hard to say when customers will actually be able to buy it.
At the end of the day, it’s likely we’ll continue to see more of these breakaway-style cables in the future. People really like MagSafe and magnetic chargers, and ultimately choice and competition is never a bad thing, even if it seems more likely that — like it or not — the industry is going to move toward USB-C for everything.