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What's the difference between Apple's new 30W USB-C adapter and the old 29W one?

By Ng Chong Seng - on 25 Jun 2018, 11:45am

What's the difference between Apple's new 30W USB-C adapter and the old 29W one?

(Image source: Apple Online Store.)

While this year’s WWDC didn't bring any major new hardware, Apple did quietly replace its 29W USB-C power adapter with a new 30W unit. Now some people are puzzled by this move (“30W is just 1W more than 29W, no?”), so I’m going to take the opportunity here to summarize the key changes.

In a nutshell, the new 30W USB-C adapter will play nice with more USB-C devices that support USB Power Delivery thanks to support for more USB PD power rules:

  • Apple 30W USB-C Power Adapter: 5V @ 3A, 9V @ 3A, 15V @ 2A, 20V @ 1.5A
  • Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter: 5.2V @ 2.4A, 14.5V @ 2A

A closer fit to the USB PD spec aside, arguably the biggest consumer benefit here is the addition of the 9V power rule, which means USB PD devices that charge over 9V can now use this adapter. (Yes, the 20V rule is new too and gives more voltage choices to compatible devices, but it’s not as big a deal to me since the maximum output of the adapter is still capped at 30W.)

If you’re all-in on Apple hardware and already have the old 29W adapter, there’s no need to replace it with the new model. The 12-inch MacBook, the 2017 iPhones, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (both 1st and 2nd gen), and the iPad Pro 10.5-inch will continue to fast-charge with either adapter; the only difference is that some devices (e.g., iPhone 8) will now charge at 9V with the new adapter.

If you’ve other USB-C gadgets that support Power Delivery, the 30W adapter is without question better than the one it replaces. Being more USB-C/PD compliant with support for more power rules simply makes this adapter compatible with more non-Apple USB-C/PD devices.

The new Apple 30W USB-C Power Adapter is available from the Apple Store for S$68, which is the same price as the now-removed 29W unit. Interestingly, Apple still ships the 29W power brick with its 12-inch MacBook.