Last year saw Apple resurrect the MagSafe brand for the iPhone 12, though the system was completely different to the one used by old MacBook Pros. The classic MagSafe may still be coming come to iPhones though, perhaps even the iPhone 13, as revealed by a newly uncovered patent.
Spotted by AppleInsider (opens in new tab), the patent (opens in new tab) details a brand new kind of iPhone charging cable. A cable that isn’t Lightning or USB-C, and connects to the phone’s charging port magnetically.
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This patent features a few ideas on how a reinvented classic version of MagSafe might work on an iPhone. The main idea is that the cable would feature a three-pin charger that is held in place by magnetic force. That way if someone knocks or trips over the cable, it would pop away just like they did on MacBook Pros.
The key difference here is that while classic MagSafe relied on spring-loaded pins to keep the charging contacts in place, this patent suggests magnets could do the same job. That also means there’s a possibility that the iPhone could have a retractable charging point; it could be pulled into place by an external magnet , such as one in a charging cable or dock.
There’s also talk of a “floating” contact point that uses a combination of magnets and springs, which gives it some freedom to move around without disconnecting.
Presumably. there will also be some sort of data connection as well, ensuring the new MagSafe cable would be a stop-gap between the aging Lighting cable and a fully portless, wireless design.
Of course. Apple may not even take these designs to the production stage. There’s never any guarantee that patents will make it into a consumer product, though in this instance we hope that it does. Even if Apple really is stubbornly refusing to adopt USB-C on the iPhone, Lighting is now practically ancient by phone standards. It launched back in September 2012, and hasn’t seen any significant updates over the past eight and a half years.
At the very least this revamped version of the classic MagSafe design may well end up on a MacBook. We’ve already heard rumors that classic MagSafe would be returning on this year’s 16-inch MacBook Pro.