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Future iPhones may have magnetic charging ports, patent suggests

Lightning cable
(Image credit: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock)

Apple is developing a connectivity port based on its existing MagSafe charger, a new patent suggests.

A recent filing submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows a three-pinned ‌MagSafe‌ charger, similar to those used to charge older MacBooks, connecting to what appears to be an iPhone. 

The patent outlines several pin designs – one rounded, one with a flat surface – which indicate the Cupertino tech giant is looking towards a future without Lightning cables, the 8-pin connector it first introduced way back in 2012.

Apple patent

(Image credit: US Patent and Trademark Office)

There's a fair few reasons Apple might be turning its attention to magnet-based charging ports. As well as the improved charging speeds of MagSafe technology – Apple’s existing magnet-based chargers for the iPhone 12 offer up to 15W of wireless charging power – a MagSafe connectivity port would also allow for easy detachment should the charger be pulled or tripped over. 

Portless… sort of

The introduction of a MagSafe port would also mark a further step towards a port-free future for Apple’s iPhones.

In spite of the industry-wide move to embrace USB-C connectivity, Apple is reluctant to swim with the tide. Recent comments made by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (thanks, MacRumors) suggest the company is confident that its own Lightning and MagSafe connectors are already better (both in terms of exclusivity and water-tightness) than USB-C. 

It’s clear that Apple would rather abandon Lightning for its own portless design with MagSafe rather than go backwards, as it seems to see it, by adopting USB-C.

Of course, these magnet-based connectors highlighted in this latest patent wouldn’t make the upcoming iPhones entirely portless – there’d still be a shallow impression at the foot of the device – but they’d nonetheless mark a drastic departure from the charging methods Apple has used in its smartphones for the best part of a decade.

Via MacRumors 

Axel Metz

Axel is a London-based Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from Elon Musk to robot butlers as part of the site's daily news output. He also has a degree in English Literature, meaning he can occasionally be spotted slipping Hemingway quotes into stories about electric sports cars.