Apple fans, get ready for cheap chargers (Finally!)

Apple announced that it won't block third-party chargers for the new MacBook and its USB-C port. But will the cheaper options be worth it?

Eric Risberg/AP/File
Users of the new Apple MacBook will have a wider, less expensive selection of chargers if theirs is lost or broken.

If you've ever lost or broken your Apple MacBook charger, you know firsthand that replacing it can be a frustrating – and expensive — endeavor. Apple's patented MagSafe charger costs $79 to replace and has to be purchased through the Apple website or an Apple authorized retailer. But times are changing for Mac fans.

Competition From Belkin and Google

The new 12" MacBook will have a single port, meaning there isn't room for the old standby MagSafe charger to plug-in. Instead, owners can now use a USB-C multiport adapter for both charging devices and other accessories, according to 9To5Mac. The site also reports that Apple won't stand in the way of third party USB-C devices. Meaning Apple owners will have a load of options for what USB-C devices they buy.

In fact, a load of options are already on the way. Belkin has revealed a USB 3.0 USB-C to USB-A adapter for $29.99 that could allow Belkin's other smaller USB chargers to work with the USB-C port on the new MacBook. Standard Belkin USB chargers start at $20, putting a Belkin workaround at $49.99.

Google is also selling their own version. Originally intended for the new Chromebook Pixel, you can buy the Universal Type-C 60w Charger for $59.99 through the Google Store.

Safety and Warranty Issues

It is good news for Apple owners who want to save some money if their MacBook charger ends up missing or broken, but opening up to the accessories world could have some potential downsides as well.

For one, Apple's MagSafe charger had a few key features most Apple users could appreciate. The LED indicator light on the charger alternated between an amber color and green, letting users know at a glance when they'd reached a full charge and could break free from the outlet. The charger was also magnetically connected, a safety feature that allowed the charger to instantly release from the MacBook if the user tripped over the cord. So far it isn't certain which – if any – third party provider will offer similar features.

And then there is the onslaught of suspiciously cheap chargers. Often, these chargers are produced cheaply in Southeast Asia and sold on third party websites like eBay or Amazon. No-name discount chargers are already popping up for sale on Amazon.

While the devices can be had for a fraction of the cost of a licensed charger, the discount chargers may sometimes ignore safety requirements, break easily, or potentially damage the laptop. If such a charger damages the MacBook, it may also void an Apple warranty.

Still, while sorting through a pile of charger manufacturers is a headache, it's a headache that Apple owners haven't had the option of doing until now. And many may be grateful for it, especially if they're prone to forgetting, losing, or breaking their chargers.

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