While most of us were focused on the launch of the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro last week, Apple quietly addressed its larger cousin’s slow charging issues.
The 12.9-inch model comes with the standard Lightning to USB cable and a 12-watt power adapter. If you have an iPhone or even an iPad Mini, that power adapter is fine. But it’s a different story with the iPad Pro, which needs about four to five hours to fully charge.
Apple’s solution is a new Lightning to USB cable. It comes in two sizes, a one-meter version for $25 and a two-meter version for $35, and is compatible with Apple’s more iPad Pro-appropriate 29-watt adapter, available for $49 from the Apple Store. The result? Charging times cut by about 50-60%, according to MacStories tests.
Being perfectly clear, the Lightning to USB-C cable is nothing new. 2015 model MacBook owners with iDevices need this cable to connect their devices since it only has one USB-C port. What is new is the cable’s compatibility with the iPad Pro. For those of us hobbled by Apple’s decision to put an underpowered adapter into the iPad Pro box, it’s a welcome change.
The proof’s in the numbers
MacStories tested out both adapters, and compared the time it took to charge from 0 to 80%. Why only 80%? As Apple’s battery page explains, Apple devices using Lithium-Ion batteries only fast charge until that point before switching to a “trickle” charge.
The results found that the 29W adapter with the USB-C cable needed 1 hour and 33 minutes to get from 0 to 80%, while the stock 12W charger and cable needed 3.5 hours. Another test showed a 29W adapter could turn on a fully drained iPad Pro in a little over a minute and a half: any of us know that even with our iPhones it may take longer than that when using those stock chargers to get the same result.
Other tests showed improvements in charging speed with the 29W adapter while using the iPad, somewhere on the order of two to three times the speed of the stock version.
So why weren’t the 29W adapter and USB-C cable included with the iPad Pro in the first place? First off, it’s USB-C. While the technology is much more commonplace, many Apple consumers don’t have a USB-C port to plug the iPad Pro in. This would require Apple to ship adapters, and for a company so concerned with aesthetics, that’s probably not going to happen.
What future iPad owners can hope for is a solution in time for the next refresh of the iPad Pro, which will likely come sometime later this year. Could we see both chargers in the iPad Pro box of the future? Maybe, and it sure would be nice.