Why Apple's iPad Should Finally Embrace MagSafe

It's lone USB-C port is just a bad joke

  • The next iPad Pro may feature Mac-like MagSafe ports.
  • This would free up the existing USB-C port for data-only duties. 
  • The iPad is even more suited to MagSafe than the Mac.
The new iPad Air alongside the iPad Pro, iPad (9th generation), and iPad mini

Apple

What's more portable and way more likely to be left charging on the edge of a table than a MacBook? An iPad!

There's talk of MagSafe coming to the iPad, and it's easy to assume this is the iPhone kind of MagSafe, which is essentially just a Qi charging puck that sticks to the back of the phone using magnets. But that's a terrible idea for the iPad, as we shall see. Far better would be the addition of a MacBook-style MagSafe charger, or two, which would solve several of the iPad's biggest shortcomings. 

"Apple's MagSafe charger was revolutionary. I was sad to see it go, and no other company has been able to emulate it since. The motion of plugging in or unplugging a MagSafe charger was so smooth and convenient compared to the clumsy mashing of other charger connectors," Adam Rossi, software and hardware-manufacturing expert, told Lifewire via email. "If Apple was able to implement one on each side of the iPad, it would display Apple's classic spirit of innovation."

MagSafer

"Innovation" might be pushing it a bit. After all, this would just be Apple slapping one of its existing connectors onto the side of an existing product line, but that doesn't make it any less useful. 

The genius of Apple's iPhone MagSafe tech is that the magnet is strong enough to not only keep the puck in place but also to stick the iPhone itself to whatever is charging it. This has led to bedside chargers that hold the phone like a nightstand clock and magnetic car mounts where you just slap the phone into place. 

This clearly won't work for the iPad. If the iPad is on a desk, then a Qi-style puck will make it rock and wobble. If it's in your hands, then how is the puck any better than using a smaller, more efficient, and better-secured USB-C plug? And forget about using magnets to hold the iPad up unless it's an iPad mini. 

MagSage connector next to USB-C port on MacBook

Charlie Sorrel / Lifewire

The iPhone's MagSafe also requires a glass back to let the magnetic induction function unimpeded. And a glass back would be a problem for an iPad.

"Glass is heavier, thicker, and easier to break—and all of those things are especially true when you massively increase the surface area like on an iPad Pro," says Mac enthusiast Macduke on the MacRumors forums. 

Now, let's look at the MacBook's MagSafe plug, resurrected last year in the M1 Pro MacBook Pro and now in use in the M2 MacBook Air. Its slim plug snaps into place on the edge of the computer, charges at high speeds, and breaks away safely if the cord gets yanked.

One of MagSafe's other big advantages is that it frees up a USB-C port previously needed for charging. On the MacBook Pro, it actually replaced a USB-C port, but that computer already has plenty. The MacBook Air, however, benefits from a doubling of always-available USB-C ports, and the iPad, with its lone port used for charging and peripherals, is desperate for such a thing. 

Double Safe

According to Japanese Apple news site Mac Otakara, the next generation of iPad Pro, which could arrive this October, will have a pair of new 4-pin connectors on its top and bottom edges. Although top and bottom are relative when it comes to the iPad, the idea is that they’re on opposite edges.

If these are, in fact, iPad versions of the Mac’s MagSafe, then you’d be able to easily connect an iPad to power in any situation, whether in the hand or, say, on a stand at the heart of a desktop music setup. And as mentioned before, this would free up the iPad’s lone USB-C port for connecting to any number of peripherals. 

top down view of MagSafe connector on a MacBook

Charlie Sorrel / Lifewire

If Mac Otakara's sources are good, then these new ports will not be compatible with Mac's MagSafe chargers, which use five pins, not four. Perhaps it's too thick to be practical in the ultra-thin iPad Pro? Still, that's a shame, as it would mean you could use the same charger for both devices. 

With iPadOS 16, Stage Manager, and the "desktop-class apps" promised in the WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple is positioning the iPad as a more pro-level machine. And in Apple's world, "pro" has recently also meant "enough ports to be useful." MagSafe would be an amazing addition to the iPad Pro, and Apple should totally make it happen.

Was this page helpful?