It’s been a number of years since Apple stripped the Macbook Pro from its array of useful ports. This was a gradual process, it didn’t happen overnight. The first to go was the ethernet port, along with the wonderful battery indicator lights. The most painful of them all was the MagSafe port, without a doubt. Not only did we lose an incredibly useful port, but there’s no longer any kind of visual indicator for your MBP’s charge state.
All that remains is 2 USB-C ports for the 13″ model, or 4 USB-C ports for the 15″ model, and by some crazy miracle, a headphone jack.
When Apple unveiled this new scheme, they sold a vision where USB-C is this magical universal port that works with everything.
The ugly truth
The USB-C MBP model was unveiled back in 2016. However it wasn’t until recently (literally the last couple of months!) that you could find a USB-C hub that took a single USB-C port and allowed you to connect multiple USB-C devices to that port. So it took 3 years for someone to come up with a port multiplier!
Even with this new hub (sold by some no-name Chinese brand on Alibaba) only one port is for charging your laptop, the other two ports won’t provide power to your devices – they are data only.
So if you have a 13″ USB-C MBP which only has two USB-C ports, you’ll sometimes find yourself using a combination of adapters and port multipliers.
To add insult to injury, the USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro are notoriously problematic. There was too much space around the port in the first USB-C MBP model, and this meant that as USB-C cables move around, they caused the solder to break between the connector and the logic board.
This seems to have been fixed in the 2019 MBP model, you can feel the USB-C port feels really snug as it goes into the port. Unfortunately, countless users are paying the price for Apple’s poor design decisions.
Just look at this thing of beauty:
There’s really no other way to describe this other than “Dongle Gate” because even now in 2020, there are still very few native USB-C devices you can buy (other than some external SSD based storage drives, and the USB-C based Yubikey). You still need dongles for everything. In fact the most popular USB-C devices on the market are adapters/dongles. The USB-C vision is taking way too long to materialize.
I work in a workplace where Apple dominates in the hardware department. Nearly every person in the company has some type of Macbook laptop. The dongle issue is very prominent, and the collective pain is palpable throughout the organization.
Our conference rooms are littered with these adapter rings:
Although the USB-C sham is not unique to Apple products, it is primarily Apple laptop users that are enduring Dongle Gate because most PC laptops kept their HDMI & Ethernet ports, as well as an SD slot. Most of them also have indicator lights to indicate charge status, network activity, etc.
TL;DR: Apple gambled on USB-C and lost. And we all lost as a result, with inferior laptops that cost more than any other laptop in the market.