There’s MagSafe and then there’s MagSafe. The current MagSafe, introduced with the iPhone 12 line-up, is, per Apple, wireless charging offers “a better, more efficient experience and introduces an ecosystem of easy-to-attach accessories that beautifully complement iPhone 12 Pro models.”
It features an array of magnets around the wireless charging coil that connect to the iPhone and provide up to 15W of power while still accommodating existing Qi-enabled devices.
However, the original MagSafe was a connector for Mac laptops. With the 2016 MacBook Pro line, Apple ditched the MagSafe connector, which disengaged with the slightest amount of pressure. The move wasn’t well received, as the connector saved many Mac laptops from a disastrous plummet when someone accidentally snagged the power cable.
As evidenced by a newly granted patent (number 10,938,147), the original MagSafe tech could come to future iPhones and iPads, though, of course, it would have to be rebranded since two MagSafes from Apple would be confusing.
(On the other hand, we do have the Apple TV app, the Apple TV set-top box, and the Apple TV+ streaming service. Hmmmm.)
The newly granted patent is for “magnetic surface contacts.” It describes a connector for an accessory device capable of exchanging power and data with an electronic device. In particular, the connector includes recessed contacts that are magnetically actuated by magnets associated with contacts of the electronic device.
In the patent data, Apple says that, in an effort to progressively improve the functionality of a portable electronic device, new ways of configuring an accessory device are “desirable. A variety of accessory devices are available that can augment the functionality of host electronic devices such as tablet computers, smart phones, laptop computers, etc.
These accessory devices often include electronic circuitry and one or more embedded batteries that power the electronic circuitry. In many such devices the batteries can be charged by connecting an appropriate cable to a charging port. Such ports and the contacts positioned therein can be susceptible to damage, etc. Apple says that an accessory device with more robust and/or protected charging contacts is desirable. MagSafe, perhaps?
Here’s the summary of the patent: “This application relates to magnetically actuated electrical connectors. The electrical connectors includes movable magnetic elements that move in response to an externally applied magnetic field. In some embodiments, the electrical connectors includes recessed contacts that move from a recessed position to an engaged position in response to an externally applied magnetic field associated with an electronic device to which the connector is designed to be coupled. In some embodiments, the external magnetic field has a particular polarity pattern configured to draw contacts associated with a matching polarity pattern out of the recessed position.”