The chargers that should not exist


Sometimes, real innovation is the COURAGE to refuse fake innovation.

The chargers that should not exist /img/apple-magsafe.jpg
CAPTION: Image source: some iPhone 12 MagSafe problems

ZDNet recently discussed whether MagSafe, Apple’s new wireless charging connector for the iPhone 12, is overpriced hype, or do we actually like it. That piece explains that this version of MagSafe (there are older technologies with the same name) is both a magnetic induction charging and a magnetic connector technology. These are the most important characteristics, as far as this post is concerned:

  • the connector contains rare-earth magnets that allow it to snap and firmly attach to the back of an iPhone, making the connection much more stable
  • the MagSafe charging specification allows for up to 15W of power to be transmitted
  • transmission of more than 15 watts, for example to tablets and laptops, will always have a “serious issue with wireless power induction – after all, a not so dissimilar technology is used on magnetic induction cooktops in kitchen applications”

Then there are the real issues. Quoting again:

  • if this feature is used to remove all connectors from some devices, they will not be able to exchange data with older laptops, or car entertainment systems. Indeed, there is another ZDNet article about how Apple knows that dropping the iPhone Lightning port would create “unprecedented amount of electronic waste’”
  • “you want at least 20W of power to get the 15W to the iPhone using MagSafe. So you lose 5W in the process. Magnetic induction charging is not very green or efficient, and that’s one of the disadvantages of using this technology.” (the article also covers in detail how and why, for example, existing chargers or Apple laptops will only deliver 11W of power through MagSafe)

Innovation, this is not

The stupid wastefulness of wireless charging is nothing new, of course. And of course, Apple is only the current frontrunner in this particular lemming race.

Still, it is a stupid, stupid race. Deliberate creation of incompatibility with millions of existing devices, consuming highly polluting rare earths, wasting 25% of power (the 5 out of 20 Watts above)… just to not plug anymore one darned, tiny cable? A cheap cable, that surely almost everybody buying a smartphone from now on already has? This is innovation? This is what would make one appear cool?

Sometimes, real innovation really is the COURAGE to refuse fake innovation. Wireless chargers, MagSafe or not, seem to me premium members of this category.

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