Apple’s Next USB-C Chargers Could Be Faster and Smaller

iPhone USB C Charger Credit: abolukbas / Shutterstock
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After almost ten years of including a small five-watt USB charger in the box with every iPhone it’s sold, Apple switched to a faster USB-C charger for its iPhone 11 Pro models this year, but that faster charging speed came with an additional tradeoff—the new charger is substantially larger than the diminutive five-watt chargers that Apple has been packing in since the iPhone 4.

A lot of this is a limitation of the way power and charging technology works—higher-powered chargers are necessarily larger due to the need for more circuity and having to deal with heat dissipation. As large as the 18-watt USB-C charger for the iPhone Pro is, consider how much larger than that the 61-watt MacBook Pro charger comes in at.

However, it looks like Apple may be working with some new technology that could result in the ability for it to not only make its fast USB-C chargers smaller, but also more versatile.

According to a new report from IT Home and GizChina (via MacRumors), Apple is considering to release a “GaN-based” power adapter this year, which would use Gallium Nitride technology rather than standard silicon, which offers a number of benefits.

Smaller and More Versatile

Firstly, GaN technology requires fewer components to be packed into the charger, which would allow Apple to reduce both the size and the weight of its power bricks. As an example, MacRumors points to Choetech’s 61W Wall Charger that comes in at about half the size of Apple’s equivalent MacBook charger.

While the report also suggests that GaN-based chargers could handle variable output voltages more effectively than current silicon chargers, this is already a part of the USB-C specification, and you can actually already use a higher-power USB-C charger, such as a 61-watt or 87-watt MacBook adapter to charge your iPhone, since all of Apple’s chargers support the necessary USB-PD voltage profiles and devices otherwise only draw the current they need.

Since all of Apple’s higher-powered chargers are compatible with lower-powered devices, it’s actually a bit unclear why Apple has so many different chargers right now, and we’re left to assume that it’s a matter of keeping production costs down, but if Apple could produce a higher-wattage USB-C power adapter in a smaller size and at lower cost, this could allow the company to create a universal USB-C charger that could be used with everything from its 16-inch MacBook Pro to the iPhone Pro.

Although the reports of Apple moving to GaN technology are just a rumour at this point—they’re one of a number of companies said to “have deep plans” for it—it does make sense that Apple would start moving in this direction since it will potentially reduce its production costs while also allowing it to return to packaging smaller chargers, and could also lead to offering fast chargers across the board, rather than limiting it only to the “Pro” iPhone models.

That said, though, this is likely to be an interim solution as far as the iPhone is concerned, since we’ve been hearing credible reports recently that Apple’s ultimate plan is to go completely wireless within the next couple of years; however, it stands to reason that the company’s MacBooks and possibly iPads will still require wired power for the foreseeable future.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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