In a newly granted patent, Apple envisions a type of connectivity port using an iteration of its magnetic MagSafe charger to charge an iPhone, potentially paving the way for a future without Lightning.
Submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday (via Patently Apple), the patent outlines a three-pinned MagSafe charger, similar to the ones found in older MacBook computers. Apple discusses multiple different pin designs that would connect the charger to the device. The patent shows a pin that is more round in one image, while another shows a more flat-surface design.
The patent itself doesn’t mention or reference an iPhone by name, but an image in the filing depicts what seems to be the bottom of an iPhone with the MagSafe charger concept. Compared to the current Lightning port on the iPhone, MagSafe has its advantages. Based on a set of magnets, MagSafe allows the device to easily detach from the charger if it gets tripped on or yanked.
With the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple reintroduced MagSafe in the form of large circular magnets on the back of the device. Currently, Apple is marketing MagSafe on the iPhone as a place to charge and attach various accessories.
The patent could entail Apple’s long-term vision of turning the current MagSafe charge on the back of the device as a place for accessories, such as a battery pack, and leave the magnetic MagSafe charger on the bottom in place to charge the iPhone. Implementing the concept on a lighter weighted device like an iPhone would presumably require a detaching mechanism using weaker magnets with more give.
This week, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo poured cold water on hopes that Apple would switch the iPhone to a USB-C connector anytime soon. Kuo states that USB-C has lower specifications compared to Lightning and MagSafe. Kuo specifically says that if an iPhone in the future abandons Lighting, it would immediately adopt a portless design with MagSafe.
Apple is expected to bring MagSafe back to the Mac, according to both Bloomberg and Kuo. The version of MagSafe expected to debut in the upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models will likely feature a similar design to previous iterations and offer faster-charging speeds. Learn more about MagSafe’s history and potential future uses in our comprehensive MagSafe guide.