We’ve been talking a lot about MagSafe for the past few months. Since the launch of the iPhone 12 and its wireless charging system that inherits the name of a technology that we saw in the Mac before the ubiquitous arrival of USB-C ports. Now, this system, at least in patent form, arrives on the iPhone in the form of a wireless port and a dedicated connector.
MagSafe as a charging port, from Mac to iPhone
What we have seen happen on the iPhone as a magnetic charging system is a combination of the Qi charging standard and the MagSafe that we have come across in the Mac, a system that has several advantages and a few disadvantages, such as the charging speed. This is something that would be relatively easy to fix as long as Apple goes beyond the Qi standard, which it has already done with the iPhone 12’s MagSafe.
A physical contact slot between the charger and the iPhone would give the possibility of fast charging, less heat generation, more energy efficiency, etc. And that’s exactly what Apple is investigating in the patent called “Magnetic Surface Contacts” that we recently discovered.
A brief recap. Recall that the Mac’s MagSafe, the original, consisted of a kind of pins integrated into the almost inner part of a metal magnetic connector. When we moved the connector closer to the computer, the pins, thanks to a small spring, provided a stable connection and the whole system could be unhooked with a simple pull. Good. The patent in question slightly refines certain concepts.
One of the simplifications Apple is looking for in this patent is that magnets play a bigger role in the system. They would not only be used to secure the connector to the chassis, but they would also be the magnets that would connect the small charging pins without having to rely on springs which can wear out or break. This system would also allow some movement of the cable head itself without the individual connectors losing connection.
Using magnets, when the pins were not in use, and therefore apart from an external magnetic field, a small internal magnet would pull them back into the device to avoid exposure. The whole system will make it possible to make a connector which, without reaching the end of the MagSafe of the iPhone 12, would be very flat, at least in the part of the device. This would allow the design to reach an iPhone, for example, where space requirements are great and most of the circuitry from the connector would be moved to the cable.
This simplification would allow the iPhone to see a port without holes, simply with internal magnetic distribution and the necessary connectors. We are describing a smart connector, right? Well yes, something very similar. The truth is that this port can already transfer electricity, we saw it in the Smart Keyboard of the iPad Pro.
A contact charging system, using pins, no coils and using magnetism for easy insertion and release.
Here the doors open to interesting possibilities. A small Smart Connector on the back of an iPhone, say on the apple – which is now centered, by the way – would allow more efficient power transfer while maintaining the waterproofness of the device and bringing the best of a magnetic system without the load spirals and its reduced efficiency.
The truth is, when it comes to device charging, there is a lot of room for innovation. In view of the evolution that Apple has made in recent years, nothing should surprise us with a charging system that can fill the batteries of a Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple. Watch with the same cable and magnetically. In any case, it is clear that Apple is studying this possibility.