Saturday, April 20

Apple has reconciled with connectivity: its Macs finally boast ports for (almost) all tastes

Some of us believe that Jony Ive’s departure has done Apple very well. That era was characterized by devices in which form (design) was above function (performance). It was the era of ultra-slim, ultra-minimalist iPhones and Macs. And among the sacrifices, a clear one: the expansion ports, which ended up depending on the USB-C port.

That began to change after the departure of the British designer. The iPhone 13 and the recent MacBook Pro have started to get fat, and that is important for the battery, for example. However, it is also for something that has made us very happy: connection ports are back. The new Mac Studio is the latest example of this trend, and is something like the latest proof of that “we were wrong” that Apple never pronounced but now seems to want to express with this trend.

USB-C ports were never enough

For a while it seemed clear that Apple was missing the point with its laptops and desktops. The teams were even criticized by Apple enthusiasts themselves, and in September 2018 we wrote Apple a letter to the Three Wise Men with the 12 ideas that we would like to see applied in future Apple MacBooks.


That MacBook with a single USB-C port was an abomination for many people. Who subscribes included.

It is as if Apple had read that topic, because a good part of the requests have ended up having an answer three years later. The arrival of the M1 family of chips has been key for this new era of Macs, but the elimination of the problematic butterfly keyboards (and the Touch Bar) or the inclusion of a Touch ID button have also helped.

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USB-C is the worst standard ever because it's anything but standard

But there was another request that was especially popular with old and new Mac users: more connection ports. Those skinny MacBooks with just one USB-C port—Jony loved them, sure—started a dangerous trend that made Macs lose many integers in the field of connecting peripherals.

That dependency on port hubs came as a meme. We complained about #donglelife —although maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal— and we suddenly saw how Apple forgot everything other than those damn USB-C ports. People were so fed up that in 2016 they ended up buying a 2012 MacBook Proand they did it only for the ports.

Apple reconciles with connection ports

And suddenly, the tables turn. The appearance of the first computers with the M1 chip did not bring radical changes in this regard, but in October 2021 Apple decided to put an end to that trend. The MacBook Pro (2021) appeared with power in abundance, with a controversial notch but, in addition —and above all— with a renewed love for ports.

These teams finally made our lives happy in that sense. They continued to focus on USB-C ports with a Thunderbolt 4 interface, but they also had an HDMI port, an SDXC card reader and even a (blessed) MagSafe 3. Marvelous.

Yesterday that renewed love for connection ports came true again in the new Mac Studio, a true “monster” that promises to be the most powerful Mac in history (with the permission of Mac Pro). The equipment is striking for its format and orientation, but it is also for its connection ports, which are many and varied.

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Screenshot 2022 03 09 At 11 08 10

The selection of ports on the back is really remarkable: we have USB-C ports with TB4 interface, but also one 10 GbE port, two USB-A ports (USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps), one HDMI port and the headphone jack. And that’s not all: on the front we have two more USB-C ports, and the SDXC card reader. Joy.

Is everything ideal in this offer? Well, not exactly. Some people would have asked for, for example, a DisplayPort port on the back – USB-C to DP cables solve this – and that the HDMI port was 2.1 (it is not, it supports 4K at 60 Hz at most).

Screenshot 2022 03 09 At 11 17 10

It would have been interesting too have a USB-A port on the front —and even the headphone port, already on—, but this is a total redemption from Apple, which has finally understood that people like to be able to connect their peripherals without adapters or dongles.

Rectify, they say, is wise. Good for that reconciliation with the ports, Apple.

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