In this massive transition to USB-C connectors across all of our devices, there are a few victories dotted along the path of annoyances and dongles. I've found some exciting USB-C adaptors in the past few months, but one thing that's fantastic over and over again is the seamless swapping of cables between my new MacBook Pro and various USB-C phones, primarily the Pixel XL.
I've charged this new MacBook Pro with various cables and power bricks far more often than the big 61W charger than came in the box. It truly is great to have the flexibility of knowing just about any charger will add power to the laptop — the only question is how fast. A standard wall charger that outputs 5V/2.4A just doesn't do enough to keep adding power while the laptop is in use, but the Pixel XL's little 18W USB-C charger actually can keep a 13-inch MacBook Pro running.
And that's why I'm actually using it regularly as a backup laptop charger.
With previous Apple laptops you were "stuck" with the included charger — and, to be fair, its magnetically attaching MagSafe connector was great (and no I don't want one of those magnetic adaptors). But now that that's all out the window, I'm happy to use alternative chargers like the one that comes in the box with the Pixel and Pixel XL. Not every situation requires the power capabilities of a full-sized, bulky and heavy charger — sometimes I can get away with something a bit more compact for casual use, provided that charger can at least keep the laptop going. That's where the Pixel and Pixel XL's in-box charger comes in — it can easily fit in a jacket pocket or alongside my MacBook pro itself in a laptop sleeve, taking up just a quarter of the space and weight of the MacBook Pro's own charger.
Enough power to keep you going in a fraction of the size.
But despite its small size, the charger can put out enough power to keep my MacBook Pro running and even add power to it while doing so. The Pixel XL's charger does this over a simple USB-C to USB-C cable, in a more compact package than most wall chargers that don't even have the same amount of output.
So how can such a tiny charger, designed originally for a phone, work so well with this laptop? The technology that makes all the difference here is the charging standard that both Apple and Google support. It's called USB-C Power Delivery, and it lets a high amount of power flow between chargers and devices that are built to the spec. It's what lets this little charger provide enough output to juice up your Pixel XL in a flash, but also max out its output when plugged into a laptop that's expecting it.
USB-C Power Delivery is the real hero here.
When I'm at home just doing some light work in Chrome and scrolling through Tweetdeck, this is the charger I have plugged in next to the couch. As I head out of the house expecting to be back home before my laptop battery runs out, I toss the Pixel XL's charger in my bag as a "just in case" backup plan. At $35 the charger is expensive and therefore probably not the best choice for someone with a MacBook Pro looking for a secondary charger, but when I already have one from my Pixel XL the equation changes.
Who would've guessed Google would be the one to make a fantastic backup charger for an Apple laptop? USB-C is great.