iPad Pro could use much faster 29W charging, if Apple allows USB 3 Lightning cables

Posted:
in iPad edited February 2016
The USB 3 capable Lightning port on Apple's iPad Pro could use an incoming charge of up to 29 watts, matching the abilities of Apple's 12-inch MacBook. But without any USB 3 Lightning cables yet available on the market, this power remains untapped for now.


iPad Air 2 (top) offers USB 2 speeds, but the iPad Pro has a USB 3 controller.


Buried within the hardware regulatory information for the iPad Pro, it's revealed that the 12.9-inch tablet can use 14.5 volts at 2 amps, which is equivalent to 29 watts. However, the iPad Pro only ships with a 12-watt power adapter.

Apple already ships a 29-watt power adapter with its 12-inch MacBook with Retina display, but the thin-and-light notebook charges over a more capable USB 3 cable with a USB-C port.
A representative from a major Apple-authorized accessory maker confirmed to AppleInsider this week that Lightning-to-USB-C cables do not meet the iPad maker's current requirements.
The Lightning cable that ships with the iPad Pro, however, is limited to a load of 12 watts, and it features a full-size USB Type-A 2.0 port on the opposite end, not a USB-C connector.

Currently, there is no way to directly charge an iPad Pro with Apple's 29-watt MacBook power adapter. That's because there aren't yet any sanctioned USB 3 Lightning cables available on the market.

Apple isn't even allowing third-party manufacturers to make Lightning to USB-C cables that would allow charging and syncing an iPhone or iPad directly to the 12-inch MacBook. A representative from a major Apple-authorized accessory maker confirmed to AppleInsider this week that Lightning-to-USB-C cables do not meet the iPad maker's current requirements.

The untapped faster charging capabilities hidden within the iPad Pro are thanks to the inclusion of a Fresco Logic FL1100 USB host controller, which can deliver USB 3.0 "SuperSpeed" bandwidth to four separate ports.

To date, Apple has only released one USB 3 Lightning accessory: an SD card reader that offers faster transfer speeds on iPad Pro. There is not yet an authorized Lightning to USB 3 cable that can offer faster syncing or charging, however.

Faster charging is of particular interest with the iPad Pro considering its massive 38.8 watt-hour battery, which is split into two cells. Tests conducted by ArsTechnica found that it takes four and a half hours to fully recharge an iPad Pro with the default 12-watt power adapter and USB 2.0 Lightning cable.


iPad Pro's logic board includes Fresco Logic's USB 3.0 controller (highlighted in orange). | Source: iFixit


In fact, the battery in the iPad Pro is nearly the same size as the 39.7 watt-hour battery in the 12-inch MacBook. In contrast, the iPad Air 2 battery is 27.6 watt-hours.

Even if a manufacturer were to make an unauthorized USB 3 Lightning cable, it's possible the iPad Pro would still restrict the charging to 12 watts, as power input is defined by the device itself. It's possible that a firmware update could be required to take advantage of the USB 3 capabilities. And using unsanctioned USB cables for charging is highly inadvisable.

Still, one thrill seeking user on the MacRumors forums connected their iPad Pro with USB 2 Lightning cable to a USB-C to USB adapter, and found the charging time wasn't any faster.

"I assume this is because of the limitations of a USB 2 cable," user 'Brookzy' wrote. "But with the Pro having a USB 3-compliant Lightning port, I would bet it would charge faster with a USB 3 Lightning cable."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    maxitmaxit Posts: 214member
    The 12 W charger on the iPad pro is quite ridiculous...
    cnocbuijackansitallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 23
    The only thing I don't like about my iPP is how slowly it charges so this would be welcome.
    SpamSandwichanantksundaramtallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 23
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member
    I wonder why Apple is so reluctant to release USB 3.0-compatible Lightning accessories and USB-C to Lightning adapters. Perhaps they have something planned for March, or the iOS 10/iPhone 7 release this fall.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    HydraDock also offers a Lightning to USB-C cable that can charge the iPad Pro using the MacBook USB-C power adapter. No idea if that is limited to 12W or using the full 29W but it charges the iPad Pro.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Possibly a heat-dissipation issue related to fast charging?
    williamlondonjackansitallest skilcornchip
  • Reply 6 of 23
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    kpom said:
    I wonder why Apple is so reluctant to release USB 3.0-compatible Lightning accessories and USB-C to Lightning adapters. Perhaps they have something planned for March, or the iOS 10/iPhone 7 release this fall.
    Well, they have released a USB 3.0-compatible SD card reader for the Lightning port, so it does not seem to be a general reluctancy. Most likely they are just careful with all that USB junk being out there. USB-C is not really an issue at all. Almost no devices have it, and the 12" MacBook is certainly designed for wireless use anyhow. Looking at the recent outcome of somebody frying a Pixel using USB-C cables, it is rather questionable, if this technology should be used at all for now.

    iPad Pro charging is not really that bad. Even if somebody sleeps only 5 hours, it will be done. And you can get it to around 80% in a reasonable amount of time. I use mine 8-10 hours every day, and have not yet run out of juice.
    cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 23
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Just bring standards: Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type-C (reversible) Generation 2. Stop proprietary ports once and for all.
    jackansi
  • Reply 8 of 23
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,283member
    Faster charging is all good. But super fast data is much more interest here. We could finally have a high speed Cintiq Wacom killer for the Mac. Current tablet apps are capped by USB2 or wifi speed. USB3 speed would be killer for this
  • Reply 9 of 23
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Heat (fast charging) and battery is so not good together, all those "fans" seems to forget that.
    If you use fast charging while the device is running, you're causing major damage to your battery.
    People don't realize how little space there is for heat dissipation in this thing.
    Maybe if the Ipad is on a metal plate while you're doing it, it would make sense, otherwise I don't think I'd want to do that.
    jackansijustadcomicscornchip
  • Reply 10 of 23
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Possibly a heat-dissipation issue related to fast charging?
    The iPad Pro comes with the largest heat sink Apple have ever built into an iPad, so I doubt that.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    What are the chances that the iPad would support 900ma charging while connected to a standard USB 3.0 hub, so you don't have to connect the iPad directly to a Mac or use a power adapter?
  • Reply 12 of 23
    foggyhill said:
    Heat (fast charging) and battery is so not good together, all those "fans" seems to forget that.
    If you use fast charging while the device is running, you're causing major damage to your battery.
    People don't realize how little space there is for heat dissipation in this thing.
    Maybe if the Ipad is on a metal plate while you're doing it, it would make sense, otherwise I don't think I'd want to do that.
    I assume you keep a cooling fan under your macbook pro in order to prolong your battery's health when you use it?
  • Reply 13 of 23
    dacloodacloo Posts: 890member
    Does a power adapter stop using electricity once it has fully charged the device, or does it keep feeding 29 watts?
  • Reply 14 of 23
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    appex said:
    Just bring standards: Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type-C (reversible) Generation 2. Stop proprietary ports once and for all.
    Who says USB 3.1 Type-C is a standard? Or will become the standard? Or that it will still be a standard 5 years from now?

    I'm an Apple guy. As long as Apple support their proprietary connector that best serves the needs of their devices, then I'm happy to enjoy an island of consistency through the turbulent waves of advancing technology.
    cornchip
  • Reply 15 of 23
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    dreyfus2 said:
    kpom said:
    I wonder why Apple is so reluctant to release USB 3.0-compatible Lightning accessories and USB-C to Lightning adapters. Perhaps they have something planned for March, or the iOS 10/iPhone 7 release this fall.
    Well, they have released a USB 3.0-compatible SD card reader for the Lightning port, so it does not seem to be a general reluctancy. Most likely they are just careful with all that USB junk being out there. USB-C is not really an issue at all. Almost no devices have it, and the 12" MacBook is certainly designed for wireless use anyhow. Looking at the recent outcome of somebody frying a Pixel using USB-C cables, it is rather questionable, if this technology should be used at all for now.

    iPad Pro charging is not really that bad. Even if somebody sleeps only 5 hours, it will be done. And you can get it to around 80% in a reasonable amount of time. I use mine 8-10 hours every day, and have not yet run out of juice.

    If Apple removes the 3.5mm Jack from the iPhone, then it will get removed from the rMB as well. If this is supported, then the rMB owners will likely have the option of charging from either port, and get two multi-functional data ports. 

    But but I agree, Apple's tight control initially was to prevent people from just using the iOS devices like a standard desktop computer. Now that people are using the technology the right way, and the devices are more powerful, they can enable some "Pro" features necessary to transfer and work with some pretty large files, among other applications that require substantial bandwidth.
    cornchip
  • Reply 16 of 23
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    dacloo said:
    Does a power adapter stop using electricity once it has fully charged the device, or does it keep feeding 29 watts?
    Li-ion batteries are dangerous if overcharged so once charged it would no longer be fed 29W - but an iPad doesn't charge at that rate to begin with, AFAIK.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    dacloodacloo Posts: 890member
    cnocbui said:
    dacloo said:
    Does a power adapter stop using electricity once it has fully charged the device, or does it keep feeding 29 watts?
    Li-ion batteries are dangerous if overcharged so once charged it would no longer be fed 29W - but an iPad doesn't charge at that rate to begin with, AFAIK.
    sorry, I was unclear :neutral: 

    What I meant is: does the charger 'waste' electricity if it's kept in the outlet when:
    1. it's not hooked up to a device
    2. can't charge the device because it's full?
    Is there some intelligence to chargers nowadays in this regard? 
  • Reply 18 of 23
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    dacloo said:
    cnocbui said:
    Li-ion batteries are dangerous if overcharged so once charged it would no longer be fed 29W - but an iPad doesn't charge at that rate to begin with, AFAIK.
    sorry, I was unclear :neutral: 

    What I meant is: does the charger 'waste' electricity if it's kept in the outlet when:
    1. it's not hooked up to a device
    2. can't charge the device because it's full?
    Is there some intelligence to chargers nowadays in this regard? 
    http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/7287/does-a-mobile-phone-charger-that-is-plugged-in-but-has-no-phone-attached-to-it-u

  • Reply 19 of 23
    has anyone tried the mac book pro usb 3.0 test ? macs put out the same voltages as iPhone and ipad chargers. I've been trolling about this for years... macs were designed from 2007 to charge your idevices at a higher current then standard usb 2.0 , and when the ipad came out, this was increased. a lot of people will argue about if ipad chargers will damage iPhones?? and i always tell them, well, if it was true, then they wouldnt of designed your mac to quick charge an iPhone 6. connect whatever device you want to check to your macs usb port click on the mac, click on about this mac ,click on system report , click on usb port, click on the device you want to read and the mac will tell you exactly how much current is flowing to your device. because usb 3 uses a new protocol for devices asking for voltages, its possible that the ipad pro would ask the macbook pro for that 29w charging current., and that macbook pro would deliver it. i don't own a ipad pro , so i can't check it. the only catch here is if you have a iPhone 6s or 6s+ device, you need to upgrade to el captain to get the full 5v @ 2100 ma current from a macbook pro. if you do not run el capitan , the 6s and 6s+ max out at 1000 ma. this is not the case with iPhone 6 and 6+, those will charge at 2100 ma on mavericks.
    edited February 2016 cnocbuicornchip
  • Reply 20 of 23
    being the only person on the internet that seems to know how to use macs to check charging currents of various apple devices is getting old. 

    cornchip
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