There’s a feature reportedly coming to the 2022 iPad Pro I’m so ready for. Apple’s largest tablet will supposedly include MagSafe, and it’ll be something of a game changer.
However, Apple is allegedly considering using the iPhone version of MagSafe, which makes little sense. The MacBook version would be a better fit for iPad Pro.
iPad Pro and MagSafe: What we know
Apple improved the wireless charging capabilities of the iPhone with magnets built into the 2020 model. These cooperate with magnets in charging mats and other accessories to keep the charging coils aligned — hence the name MagSafe.
Bloomberg reported in June 2021 that, “The company is testing a similar MagSafe system for the iPad Pro.” The author was Mark Gurman, who has an 87% leak accuracy rate on AppleTrack. And he brought up MagSafe for iPad again in his most recent Power On newsletter.
To make this work, the upcoming iPadOS tablet will allegedly include a glass back instead of the current aluminum one.
Please use the Mac version instead
There are two very different versions of MagSafe. There’s the iPhone one already described, but long before that came a version used in MacBooks. Apple reintroduced the feature in the recently launched 2021 MacBook Pro lineup. This MagSafe version consists of a small cable that connects magnetically to a shallow port on the side of the computer. And this version is a better fit for the iPad Pro line.
The goal of MagSafe for iPhone is to let you simply set your handset on a charging mat, car charger or other accessory to start power flowing. But an iPhone fits neatly on its MagSafe charger. An 11- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro won’t sit on a charging puck measuring just 2.2 inches across. Such a connection would prove awkward.
The MacBook version of MagSafe, with a charging cable that magnetically connects to one edge of the tablet, would be a more workable solution for iPad. That’s because it was designed for a different reason — the connecting cable pops off safely if someone trips over the power cord. That’s just what those who use their iPad in a keyboard case or a stand need.
While Bloomberg reported in June that Apple was exploring putting the iPhone version of MagSafe into 2022 iPad Pro, it’s possible Cupertino has since changed to the MacBook version. As Gurman pointed out at the time, “the company’s plans could change or be canceled before next year’s launch.“
Add a second port of some kind
Whichever MagSafe option Apple goes with, the iPad Pro will get more usable. For many hard-core users, the single USB-C port on the tablet remains an irritating limitation. It hinders charging the computer while also using accessories.
There are workarounds, of course. Most multiport hubs include a USB-C port that allows the tablet to get power while other accessories are plugged in. And the Apple Magic Keyboard comes with a USB-C port specifically to charge the tablet. But none of these are as convenient as an iPad Pro with a power port and a data port.
The USB-C port can do so much — run an external monitor, access flash drives, connect to speakers, etc. But an iPad user always has to keep an eye on their tablet’s battery level, an unnecessary hassle.
Apple wouldn’t dream of putting out a Mac with only a single port. It shouldn’t limit iPad users in the same way.
Really, two USB-C ports would be better. But a USB-C port and MagSafe charging would be noticeably better than the current setup.
And reverse wireless charging
In what might be good news or bad, the Bloomberg report from June 2021 also raised the possibility of reverse wireless charging in the 2022 iPad Pro. And the recent Power On newsletter said Apple would like to add the capability to all its devices. This would allow a tablet to charge an iPhone simply by placing the handset on the back of the iPad. With the large batteries in Apple tablets, one could give a significant charge to an iPhone.
But as MagSafe works now, if an upcoming iPad Pro is designed to wirelessly send power to an iPhone then the tablet won’t also be able to receive power from a MagSafe charging mat. The magnets are arranged such that the charging coils won’t line up.
Consider Apple’s MagSafe battery pack, the company’s first device that supports reverse wireless charging. It can charge or be charged from an iPhone. To do this, it has magnets configured so it can attach to an iPhone, which means it can’t be used with a wireless charging mat. When not getting power from the iPhone, it has to be charged via its USB-C port. That’s not an ideal setup for an iPad.
It’s possible there’s a solution for this. Apple could even put both the iPhone and the MacBook versions of MagSafe into its next iPad Pro. But the Bloomberg report also could just refer to efforts to put a MagSafe version of reverse wireless charging in the iPad. Which would be a disappointment.
I’m optimistic, though. Now that Apple revived MagSafe in the latest MacBooks, it makes so much sense to build it into the 2022 iPad Pro as well.