MagSafe 2: My love hate relationship with Apple's current power connector

Anyone who owns, or has owned a recent MacBook will be familiar with the MagSafe. Apple's take at the laptop charger, and something in my experience that comes with a very distinct love and hate relationship. The latest incarnation, MagSafe 2, one would anticipate being an improvement on the originals, the development of an idea.

But, instead, it's a product that drives many of us to frustration and despair. The reviews section of the Apple Store website is living proof of that. So how can something so good be so bad at the same time?

The loving relationship

Having come from a lifetime of generic Windows laptops – and even iBook and Powerbook efforts from Apple – where chargers had a less than strong survival rate, the Magsafe seemed like the answer to the problem. I first encountered it on a 2010 MacBook Air. Magnetic, slim and clinging to the side of the MacBook, personally speaking it cured the biggest issues experienced previously with laptop chargers.

Most previously had seen some kind of plug or pin that had to go inside the laptop charging port. And, through time or accidental fall, these would become bent, snapped off completely or the plastic housings could crack open and expose dangerous parts within. Indeed, by the end of the life of my own 11-inch Apple iBook the charger couldn't be removed, since it'd never go back in properly if it was.

And so the love affair with the Magsafe began. Easy attaching and detaching meant that whatever the hurry – or the fall – the charger easily detatched from the laptop. In a house with animals, sadly a falling laptop is always a risk.

And so, you'd think the Magsafe 2 would be even better, right?

So where did it go wrong?

Personally speaking, the Magsafe 2 is the worst possible 'upgrade' before we even get to the apparent issues and general consumer dissatisfaction with it. We've gone from a sleek little connector that barely protruded from the side of your MacBook to one that does, and one that one clumsy writer knocks out about 8 times a day. Granted, my MacBook Pro sits raised from my desk, which does seem to increase the issue, but still.

That never happened with the first generation, and with the relatively weak magnetic connection the smallest thing can knock it out. Kicking the lead under the desk, a friendly cat coming to say hello, brushing past it with your hand, everything seems to knock it out. Beyond being annoying – even more so by the end of the day – it can't be the best situation for the charger either.

Something possibly tied in to the frankly awful reviews the Magsafe 2 gets on the Apple Store site. Overheating, weak cables, fraying rubber coatings, there seems to plenty of issues frustrating plenty of people. And a replacement isn't cheap. My own gets very hot and sometimes refuses to actually charge my MacBook Pro when it's plugged in. Knocking it out is annoying, but faults in function are beyond that.

Your experiences

So, consider this a sort of crowdsourcing exercise. We're stuck with the Magsafe 2, like it or not, but how bad is it for you guys? Do you have annoyances, issues or all out faults with yours, or have you been lucky enough to have a trouble free life with what seems to be one of Apple's more contentious products? Let me hear your experiences in the comments below!

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 37 comments. Add yours.

ericesque says:

I haven't replaced my laptop since Magsafe was introduced, but I have envied the Magsafe connector ever since Apple announced it (was it really only 3 years ago!?). It was such a simple and elegant solution to one of the worst things about notebooks. Hopefully Magsafe 3 is introduced to resolve these faults before I finally spring for a MacBook.

igobyzach says:

I'm thinking it's closer to 5+ years old, I had an aluminum 13" MacBook that I got in 2008 (right before all of the notebooks were given the MacBook Pro name) and that one had the MagSafe power connection...

raywongy says:

MagSafe's have been on MacBooks since 2006. That makes it seven years and counting.

clipps99 says:

The first one is not bad but this one truly sucks. It's too big and falls out far too easy

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j_benj says:

Strange I've had my 2012 MacBook Pro for a while now and I've never experienced any issues that I can recall with the MagSafe adapter. Connection is really strong for me and has never accidentally popped off. In fact, I really like it.

Richard Devine says:

Damn. I really envy you! I've considered buying a new one on the chance mine is just one of those bad units...but the community reviews don't exactly make you want to part with the cash

tool022611 says:

Same here, I've never had issues. Although my cord goes behind my desk and not easily accessible by foot, I have never had it pop out. I do like the original better because of the slim design, this one does tend to get in the way with my speakers(I connect my MacBook Pro to a external monitor with external speakers). I hope they go back to the original design or even better make it flush with the macbook.

raywongy says:

Actually, Richard. The first MagSafe was not the one in your 2010 MBA. The first MagSafe was a plastic one, built for the original polycarbonate MacBooks and non-unibody MacBook Pros. That one had an extremely strong magnet. It was the best one yet and never fell out. I loved it to death on my white MacBook.

The MagSafe that you love is the L-shaped one. It's okay, but it falls out way too easily. I don't like it because it just falls off on the side if the cord gets tugged. Because you positioned it facing the back, it was easier to knock out and sometimes a hard enough tug would bring your laptop with it.

Now, the MagSafe 2 is a return to the original MagSafe design, but its problem is that it's so much slimmer that it fails. The magnet should have been made stronger.

So technically speaking, Apple should have called the newer one (pictured up top in your story) MagSafe 3. Or you can refer to it as the third-gen MagSafe.

I personally would love to see a return to the first MagSafe.

More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MagSafe

Richard Devine says:

Thanks for the clarity, I was still using a Powerbook back then, skipped those early generation MacBooks! Amended the details :)

Clear as mud I guess. Magsafe 2 is actually the third ;-)

erikbock says:

I have the newest Retina MacBook Pro and the new magsafe connector and don't have much of a problem with the power supply that came with the new RMBP. I did buy the adapter for the to older Magsafe and that is a bit of a pain because it protrudes out even further, but given that was $10 and an additional power supply was $80 and I already had 3 of the older ones I can live with it.

I do agree with you on the older L shaped ones aren't that good. My non-unibody 17" MBP came with the old plastic one but I had to replace that with the L shaped one.

Overall I am completely good with the new Magsafe 2 because the Haswell based RMBP doesn't get connected near as much as the older MBP.

heretiq says:

Ditto. I have used 3 generations of Mag Safe (including the adapter) with 3 generations of Mac Book Pros .. and have never had a problem with either the power supplies or the connectors. They are certainly not perfect; but in my opinion they are light-years better than what preceded them and the alternatives that I'm aware of.

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Intrepyd says:

I love MagSafe 2. My previous situation was a PC with a conventional plug, so I never had the original MagSafe. But, seriously, who is going to write a review of a power connector other than somebody with a complaint? Major selection bias there.

dandy1117 says:

I've heard many people complain that the MagSafe cables pop off too easily... but I think for the most part they are missing the point... it is SUPPOSED to pop off easily. If the alternative is a $1500 laptop crashing to the floor, then I suspect most people would rather the inconvenience of reconnecting the power cable.

mwinn2 says:

I wish it snapped into place. I feel it's too easy to unplug.

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k0an says:

I have a new MacBook Air. I have never had the cable come unplugged. It takes a decent amount of effort for me to unplug it.

Trevor Vincent says:

One thing you should keep in mind about bad reviews is that people generally only leave online feedback if they are dissatisfied or extremely satisfied. Most people either don't get around to it or just don't care to because they are satisfied with the product. Think about the number of Apple laptops sold world wide and compare that to the number of complaints you see online. The number of complaints is comparatively very small, and I would say that a good percentage of them could be user error or improper care of the product. At least that has been my experience working in several Apple retailer locations. I have never had any issues with any of the MagSafe chargers I have owned. It's a fantastic product. Granted, a replacement is a bit pricey, but I still prefer that to a non-MagSafe charger. I guess sometimes we just have to pay for the Apple brand.

elmtube says:

The only problem I have with the second generation is serious overheating.

allthingspixel says:

Agreed! It has always worked really well for me but sometime it gets so hot it seems unsafe.

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lfeuln says:

The MagSafe is the one thing I can be grateful about having the 2011 MBA (IIRC version 2 was introduced in 2012). Hopefully it won't be too bad when the time comes to upgrade!

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lfeuln says:

And that sounded pretty spoiled considering the MBA is great overall and not that old. I just have Haswell battery life envy. :-)

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Gary Compson says:

I've got all three MagSafe versions which I'm using with, what I now realise is an unhealthy obsession of collecting Apple products; 2008 MacBook Pro, 2011 MacBook Pro, 2013 retina MacBook Pro and 2013 MacBook Air.

I also have a couple of those MagSafe 1 to 2 adapters because I leave the power supply for my retina MacBook Pro at the office.

Personally, I have never encountered a problem with any of the MagSafe connectors. I regularly use the second generation MagSafe 1 with my MagSafe 2 MacBook Pro at home, which I quite like because the cable runs conveniently to the back of my desk. I have never accidentally knocked out the MagSafe since 2008. I guess I'm lucky :)

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nashlib says:

I have the 2009 MBP which came with the original plastic white MagSafe connector. It was truly nice. Strong magnet and was large enough to stay put. But it failed on me in 2012 and I had to buy a replacement from Apple, which was unfortunately the L shaped one. Its not too bad actually, but I prefer the older model.
My wife's 2012 MBA has the MagSafe 2 - that I don't like at all. The magnet is just too weak and the damn thing is tiny and won't stay put, particularly if there is an uneven surface involved like say a couch or bed ...once in a way...Size Does Matter !!!

Nissan4LIFE says:

Well I was one of the folks that really hated the MagSafe2 for how easy it was to pop out until I discovered the best invention ever which is a simple band that goes around the connector and prevents it from coming out real easy and it is called the Snuglet. For $19 you can get this piece of heaven and they actually ship 2 of them. Richard Devine, you should seriously add another article about the Snuglet because it is truly wonderful and you install it once onto your macbook and forget about it, the magnet actually keeps it in the laptop and makes the MagSafe2 work exactly how it is intended. Check out their site and see the testimonies for yourself if you don't believe me.

asuperstarr says:

I haven't had any issues with my MagSafe, but good information to look out for in the future.

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dreyfus2 says:

Well, if you think the MagSafe 2 connector is bad (and yes, it is), you did not even mention the "even better" part... the damned MagSafe 2 to 1 adapter required to connect a Thunderbolt Display. It comes off all the time, sometime it even detaches itself from the MBP and the display cable simultaneously (and it does not seem to be a defective adapter, as I am on no. 8 right now). Apple must have a secret torture department that is allowed to release one MS-like-quality product every 20 years... So, MagSafe 2 and the f@cking adapter should keep us safe for the next 40.

Adrian Liu says:

I've never experienced MagSafe 1, but I have observed that often my MagSafe 2 does not always charge on first try. I have to disconnect and reconnect. Also, I get paranoid about scratching the side of the computer with the MagSafe when I'm putting it in, due to the magnetic attraction.

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OreoMuncher says:

Guys, if you want a solution to all this mess get this!

http://www.snuglet.com

It goes inside the MagSafe port and enhances the magnetic connection!

ericcasper1978 says:

Dude, ya really can't complain. IF the author really knocks about the power cord that much he would be constantly repairing the weak plastic moulds that hold every windows AC plug in place. I worked a brief stint at Geek Squad and like 15-25% of the laptops brought in had issues with just that part. A comparatively expensive fix for something apple designed away.

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Lance Collins says:

My problems with the mag safe are the size and it does not pop out so easily if someone trips over it. With the new Haswell models it does not have to charge as often so that is nice.

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bsincick says:

2013 rMBP. Never had an issue with mag safe. If you press it down until the magnet releases there is no undue stress on the cable. The magnet seems quite strong.

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Pierrot Marzadori says:

Get a Snuglet!

I backed on Kickstarter and I have no problems anymore!!!

http://www.snuglet.com

GlowingBlue says:

I actually prefer the new Magsafe 2 because I don't have to guess or turn my MBAir upside down to verify if its charging or not. It's completely visible and I find that to be a "pro".

The Magsafe 1 is sleek and out of sight, but every time you go to plug it in, you had to roll it around a bit until it clicked. If I had my Air off, I'd even have to flip my computer upside down to check if the light is green or yellow. I found this to be annoying.

My usage is not frequent. Once or twice a day just to update a few things and once at night for backups.

The times that I am actually working on a project, I'm working on flat surfaces that are more or less flush with the charging cable, so no complaints there as well.

Polyphonie says:

By its sixth years, the MagSafe connector that came with my 2007 MBP started to fall apart but was still usable. I simply used electrical tape to fix the fraying. And this laptop was constantly on the move, back and forth from my home to various work sites.

Now I'm on the new retina MBP. One year into ownership, the charger/MagSafe cable/connector is still as good as new. I think the bottom line is to use a certain amount of common sense when dealing with cables. Like not straining the connection points and if have to place the cable where you might constantly step on it, wrap the cable up with electrical tape or Kevlar jacket.

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Dark_Blu says:

I'm not stuck with a Magsafe 2 that has a problem. I'm still using a 2008 Macbook Pro that is using both an original Magsafe power adapter and an 85 Watt original Magsafe that I use in the field. Never had a problem with either power adapter.

RyanMendoza says:

I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. The Mag Safe 2 is a great adapter. Never had a single problem with it. In all these years, I've never had one break on me either. Not sure how people always break them lol. I agree, it may seem a bit flimsy, but that just means you have to take great care of your things. After all, you have a Mac, not a crappy PC to throw around. These machines are incredible works of art!

zaibtsu says:

Richard, I agree 100% with your review here.

I've owned every generation of wedge MBA, and the old L-shaped connector was (and still is) the best. The new MagSafe 2 is completely retarded - and this can be broken down from insult to engineered insult with a simple description.

The L-shaped connector has a maximum bend angle of 90* generated in every realistic usage scenario, and often closer to 0* with a careful user flipping its orientation when necessary.

The pathetic MagSafe 2 on the other hand not only has a practical maximum bend angle of 180* (which quickly damages the plug and makes it disconnect far too easily), but ensures that you regularly use this orientation as well. In fact, statistically, the MagSafe 2 will experience a bend angle of between 90* and 180* ~66% of the time, as opposed to the original L-shaped design which sat between 0 and 90* almost 100% of the time.

The orientation deficiencies means it suffers bend-fatigue related failure very quickly, and the weak magnet just makes it more irritating to use rather than mitigating the aforementioned design-related failures. It's basically one poor design decision compounded by another, which nets a complete failure of a product.

This is a very basic mathematical and statistical analysis which is not even necessary as the functional effects are noticeable within minutes of trying to use the thing. In conclusion the designer/engineer who designed the MagSafe 2 should be fired. How they got through the hiring process is beyond me, but as their manager I would take great pleasure in condemning them back to arts school.

Peter Chatteris says:

The magsafe is an example of how Apple are going downhill... I have 2 macbook pros, macbook air 2 Imacs and a couple of windows laptops also a PC desktop.... I have had heaps of issues with the macs... none with the PC's... not good enough!