Apple working on smaller and more efficient AC power adapters

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 4
Apple may be planning on producing smaller, lighter, and more efficient power adapters for the iPhone and other devices, a supply chain report on Monday suggests.

Credit: Anker
Credit: Anker


Navitas Semiconductor is reportedly expected to obtain orders from Apple for charging solutions based on gallium nitride (GaN) in 2021, DigiTimes reported. Compared to silicon-based power adapters, GaN chargers are smaller, lighter, more power efficient, and less heat conductive.

According to DigiTimes, Navitas is expected to source GaN-based chips for charging solutions. It'll then deliver power adapters or other charging accessories to Apple and other vendors in 2021.

The report doesn't offer any information on Apple's plans for the GaN solutions, but it suggests that Apple is working on a proprietary GaN variant of its current USB-C chargers. As with current products on the market from the likes of Anker and Belkin, the GaN chargers will likely be smaller than current Apple power adapters.

Recently, oft-accurate TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would release "two to three" new chargers built on GaN technology in 2021. It isn't clear when Apple's own GaN chargers will be ready for commercial release, however.

DigiTimes has a good track record of supply chain information, but is much less reliable when it comes to Apple product plans and rumors.

Ireland-based Navitas is the creator of GaNFast, a charging solution that it says is used in charging solutions by popular manufacturers like Aukey, Dell, Lenovo, and Xiaomi. Those solutions include wall chargers ranging from 24W to 300W.

In 2020, Apple stopped shipping the once-ubiquitous 5W power adapters with its iPhone devices. In their place, the company began offering a 20W USB-C power adapter for $19.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,596member
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 33
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    The difference between. 5w and 20w charger is modest, but shrinking the 100 MacBook Pro charger would definitely be welcome. 

    Of course, they’ll probably remove it completely for ‘environmental’ reasons. 
    osmartormenajrrazorpit
  • Reply 3 of 33
    I was about to say that I was highly skeptical that an M1 16" MBP would have a 100 watt charger, as I imagined that M1 Macs are less thirsty. Not true, the 13" M1 uses the same charger as the 13" Intel. Huh.

    Regardless, this would be a welcome change, and it's a little weird that it hasn't happened already.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,062member
    I recently bought a few of these chargers to test out:

    • Anker Nano PIQ 3.0 - 20W fast charge, no PD
    • Aukey Omnia Mini - 20W, PD 3.0, fast charge
    • ZMI zPower Turbo - 65W, PD, not GaN but still small

    ...they’re all performing pretty well, and smaller than the Apple ones. The 65W ZMI is actually the same size as the Apple 20W, plus comes with a USB-C cable for $20 total:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D64QLQ1/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_c268FbQY9JF0E

    ...However there seems to be some diminishing returns, the 65W is not much faster than the 20W to fully charge an iPad — about 15 minutes. Compiling charge time data now.

    edited January 4 Japheybestkeptsecretwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 33
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,496member
    People already using 3rd party USB type-c PD chargers to charge iPhone for sometime. So, it was expected that Apple will offer similar anytime.
    razorpit
  • Reply 6 of 33
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    wood1208 said:
    People already using 3rd party USB type-c PD chargers to charge iPhone for sometime. So, it was expected that Apple will offer similar anytime.
    I think that’s part of the “landfill” issue. If Apple would include modern chargers with their products people would use them and not put them in drawers.
    GeorgeBMacchemengin1
  • Reply 7 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 752member
    razorpit said:
    wood1208 said:
    People already using 3rd party USB type-c PD chargers to charge iPhone for sometime. So, it was expected that Apple will offer similar anytime.
    I think that’s part of the “landfill” issue. If Apple would include modern chargers with their products people would use them and not put them in drawers.
    Not even close. People put them in drawers because they have too many, not because they don't work. Apple could easily include one of these "modern" (aka GaN chargers) in every box but it would still be the same result. You'd probably take a 5W GaN charger with you on a trip over their old 5W charger because it's smaller in size, but it doesn't solve the problem of having a drawer full of chargers. Of course, I'm sure your odd use of "modern" also is meant to include a higher output than the 5W, but to what end? As we've recently seen with rare planning by Apple, they have many recent PSU releases that don't work with their latest HW releases. Gruber details of this well...

    https://daringfireball.net/2020/12/charger_nerdery

    But back to the point about the landfill issue. Including a charger designed for one specific device doesn't solve the landfill issue when these devices don't usually break so need updating so we're not so inclined to somehow sell the old one to get the latest one being marketed every year. I don't care what iPhone charger Apple offers I will continue to use a very beefy one with multiple ports tor traveling,  have stationary Qi charging devices throughout my homes, and (for the time being) use a USB-A port in my vehicle for charging. That is a very common scenario.

    This was long overdue, but I do with they had offered the included charger with a USB-C port interface for a couple years before pulling the plug.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 752member
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    The difference between. 5w and 20w charger is modest, but shrinking the 100 MacBook Pro charger would definitely be welcome. 

    Of course, they’ll probably remove it completely for ‘environmental’ reasons. 
    I hope that's a joke. Mac notebooks aren't updated nearly as often so users aren't likely to have a drawer full of 100W chargers that will work with all current Mac notebooks.

    I would like to see a GaN charger from Apple and hope theirs is even smaller than the competition, but they may take some additional safety precautions which could affect the size. I'd also love to see an additional port on it, but that doesn't seem like anything they do. I wish there was a 3rd-party option with a built in Ethnernet port like we've seen in other laptops PSU years ago.

    The real beauty here is that notebooks are being charged by USB-C which means our options are PSUs without attached cables is very large, especially compared to what it before the removal of previous charger.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    Xed said:
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    The difference between. 5w and 20w charger is modest, but shrinking the 100 MacBook Pro charger would definitely be welcome. 

    Of course, they’ll probably remove it completely for ‘environmental’ reasons. 
    I would like to see a GaN charger from Apple and hope theirs is even smaller than the competition, but they may take some additional safety precautions which could affect the size.
    Sheesh...look on Amazon -- there is literally anything you want in a GaN charger there.  The work has already been done.  Do we really need to wait 3 years for Apple to "engineer" their own GaN that is basically what already exists, except you'll pay Apple 3x the price?   The PD spec is a standard.  Apple cannot create anything that Anker, Ravpower, or any other "name brand" maker of GaN chargers already has.  If they can get smaller, the Chinese that make them now will make them even smaller.  Soon, you'll buy a 100W GaN charger for $20 on a Black Friday deal.  Or one with extra ports for a few bucks more.  

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    edited January 5 flyingdprazorpit
  • Reply 10 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 752member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Xed said:
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    The difference between. 5w and 20w charger is modest, but shrinking the 100 MacBook Pro charger would definitely be welcome. 

    Of course, they’ll probably remove it completely for ‘environmental’ reasons. 
    I would like to see a GaN charger from Apple and hope theirs is even smaller than the competition, but they may take some additional safety precautions which could affect the size.
    Sheesh...look on Amazon -- there is literally anything you want in a GaN charger there.  The work has already been done.  Do we really need to wait 3 years for Apple to "engineer" their own GaN that is basically what already exists, except you'll pay Apple 3x the price?   The PD spec is a standard.  Apple cannot create anything that Anker, Ravpower, or any other "name brand" maker of GaN chargers already has.  If they can get smaller, the Chinese that make them now will make them even smaller.  Soon, you'll buy a 100W GaN charger for $20 on a Black Friday deal.  Or one with extra ports for a few bucks more.  

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    I've also seen smartphone chargers for $1 at dollar stores and at the checkout lines of grocery stores. Are you sure those safe simply because they look similar to an Apple charger or even exactly like an Apple charger? You may want to think about that the next time you plug in your iPhone into your genuine Appel I-Phone charger.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,210member

    ...However there seems to be some diminishing returns, the 65W is not much faster than the 20W to fully charge an iPad — about 15 minutes. Compiling charge time data now.

    Which iPad? My understanding is the iPad Pro (2018/2020) can fast charge up to 45W even though they ship with 18W chargers. But more importantly is what power profiles your chargers support — it's not just about wattage. For example, the Apple 30W and 61W (updated version) have the 15V profile which will charge the iPad Pro faster than the 87W adapter.

    I also learned some of this from Gruber's recent column — 
    https://daringfireball.net/2020/12/charger_nerdery


    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Xed said:
    razorpit said:
    wood1208 said:
    People already using 3rd party USB type-c PD chargers to charge iPhone for sometime. So, it was expected that Apple will offer similar anytime.
    I think that’s part of the “landfill” issue. If Apple would include modern chargers with their products people would use them and not put them in drawers.
    Not even close. People put them in drawers because they have too many, not because they don't work. Apple could easily include one of these "modern" (aka GaN chargers) in every box but it would still be the same result. You'd probably take a 5W GaN charger with you on a trip over their old 5W charger because it's smaller in size, but it doesn't solve the problem of having a drawer full of chargers. Of course, I'm sure your odd use of "modern" also is meant to include a higher output than the 5W, but to what end? As we've recently seen with rare planning by Apple, they have many recent PSU releases that don't work with their latest HW releases. Gruber details of this well...

    https://daringfireball.net/2020/12/charger_nerdery

    But back to the point about the landfill issue. Including a charger designed for one specific device doesn't solve the landfill issue when these devices don't usually break so need updating so we're not so inclined to somehow sell the old one to get the latest one being marketed every year. I don't care what iPhone charger Apple offers I will continue to use a very beefy one with multiple ports tor traveling,  have stationary Qi charging devices throughout my homes, and (for the time being) use a USB-A port in my vehicle for charging. That is a very common scenario.

    This was long overdue, but I do with they had offered the included charger with a USB-C port interface for a couple years before pulling the plug.
    So everyone is happily using the 5W charger they received with their iPhone 3GS? Didn’t know that.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 13 of 33
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,446member
    ITGUYINSD said:

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    Given Apple's prices and recent misadventures in power profiles, I'd say this is a wide choice.  Anker and Aukey have proved more than reliable for me, so I feel no need to be an Apple charger simp.  
  • Reply 14 of 33
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    I recently bought a few of these chargers to test out:

    • Anker Nano PIQ 3.0 - 20W fast charge, no PD
    • Aukey Omnia Mini - 20W, PD 3.0, fast charge
    • ZMI zPower Turbo - 65W, PD, not GaN but still small

    ...they’re all performing pretty well, and smaller than the Apple ones. The 65W ZMI is actually the same size as the Apple 20W, plus comes with a USB-C cable for $20 total:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D64QLQ1/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_c268FbQY9JF0E

    ...However there seems to be some diminishing returns, the 65W is not much faster than the 20W to fully charge an iPad — about 15 minutes. Compiling charge time data now.

    Do you know what the max charge rate of iPads is? It may simply be that it won’t charge faster than 25 watts or so. If you have a kill-a-watt you could try throwing that in line to see. 

    I’m interested to see what you find.  As someone with an absent minded 12 year old who occasionally forgets to charge her school iPad, having the ability to get some level of change quickly in the morning would be valuable. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 33
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    crowley said:
    ITGUYINSD said:

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    Given Apple's prices and recent misadventures in power profiles, I'd say this is a wide choice.  Anker and Aukey have proved more than reliable for me, so I feel no need to be an Apple charger simp.  
    One thing that the past has taught us is that appearances can be deceiving with power supplies. I read an article several years ago looking at the construction and design of the small, 5W power supplies. It compared Apple's, Samsung's and several others. Apple and Samsung's were both well designed (good heat sinking, robust overcurrent protection, etc.) while most of the generics were what you would expect from a generic. Then there are the reports of fires from cheap chargers...

    based on this, I stick with a brand I trust - Apple, Anker, etc. The few extra bucks is a one-time cost and worth it IMO.
    muthuk_vanalingamStrangeDayswatto_cobrarazorpit
  • Reply 16 of 33
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 8,996member
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.


    The driver of that trade war will be gone shortly.   We can return to sanity and mutual progress.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 8,996member
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    Right now, most chargers are small and light enough that any move to smaller, lighter offerings would seem modest to most users.

    However, power efficiency should be of real interest to every user so moving to GaN would be nice.

    Industry is already using GaN extensively (in 5G base stations for example).

    Most gallium is sourced from China and there have been constant rumblings that the trade war could end up affecting supply but nothing has happened yet.

    The difference between. 5w and 20w charger is modest, ...

    Not if your phone is on "E" and you need it to go somewhere or do something.
  • Reply 18 of 33
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,446member
    MplsP said:
    crowley said:
    ITGUYINSD said:

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    Given Apple's prices and recent misadventures in power profiles, I'd say this is a wide choice.  Anker and Aukey have proved more than reliable for me, so I feel no need to be an Apple charger simp.  
    One thing that the past has taught us is that appearances can be deceiving with power supplies. I read an article several years ago looking at the construction and design of the small, 5W power supplies. It compared Apple's, Samsung's and several others. Apple and Samsung's were both well designed (good heat sinking, robust overcurrent protection, etc.) while most of the generics were what you would expect from a generic. Then there are the reports of fires from cheap chargers...

    based on this, I stick with a brand I trust - Apple, Anker, etc. The few extra bucks is a one-time cost and worth it IMO.
    Oh I agree, I'd never trust a no-name for a charger, or even for a cable.  In my experience Anker and Aukey manage to be both a lot cheaper than Apple, and as reliable (arguably more for the cables).  They've earned their name.

    POST-EDIT: I meant wise choice in my OP  B)
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 752member
    razorpit said:
    Xed said:
    razorpit said:
    wood1208 said:
    People already using 3rd party USB type-c PD chargers to charge iPhone for sometime. So, it was expected that Apple will offer similar anytime.
    I think that’s part of the “landfill” issue. If Apple would include modern chargers with their products people would use them and not put them in drawers.
    Not even close. People put them in drawers because they have too many, not because they don't work. Apple could easily include one of these "modern" (aka GaN chargers) in every box but it would still be the same result. You'd probably take a 5W GaN charger with you on a trip over their old 5W charger because it's smaller in size, but it doesn't solve the problem of having a drawer full of chargers. Of course, I'm sure your odd use of "modern" also is meant to include a higher output than the 5W, but to what end? As we've recently seen with rare planning by Apple, they have many recent PSU releases that don't work with their latest HW releases. Gruber details of this well...

    https://daringfireball.net/2020/12/charger_nerdery

    But back to the point about the landfill issue. Including a charger designed for one specific device doesn't solve the landfill issue when these devices don't usually break so need updating so we're not so inclined to somehow sell the old one to get the latest one being marketed every year. I don't care what iPhone charger Apple offers I will continue to use a very beefy one with multiple ports tor traveling,  have stationary Qi charging devices throughout my homes, and (for the time being) use a USB-A port in my vehicle for charging. That is a very common scenario.

    This was long overdue, but I do with they had offered the included charger with a USB-C port interface for a couple years before pulling the plug.
    So everyone is happily using the 5W charger they received with their iPhone 3GS? Didn’t know that.
    What part of "in a drawer" and unused is difficult for you to understand? Qanon is really killing your brain cells.
    edited January 5 StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 752member
    crowley said:
    ITGUYINSD said:

    I bought a handful of 61W GaN chargers off Amazon for $11 each (I think one was $9 after coupon).  They work great.  Will they last 5 years?  Who knows.  If not, I'll spend another ten bucks to replace it.  
    Given Apple's prices and recent misadventures in power profiles, I'd say this is a wide choice.  Anker and Aukey have proved more than reliable for me, so I feel no need to be an Apple charger simp.  
    I trust Apple more but Anker and Aukey have earned some respect over the last half a decade or so with their PSUs. I wish I could find a detailed technical review of their products for their safety and reliability, but at least I haven't heard any negative news about their products.
    watto_cobra
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