The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

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.

The Pixel's USB-C charger is a nice backup for the new MacBook Pro

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 (opens in new tab) 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.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

38 Comments
  • Why do bloggers need a MacBook? It's not like they do anything creative. Culture? Peer pressure?
  • Does it matter? Everyone has their personal preference for what tools they use.
  • Just curiosity, which accounts for the motivation to ask a lot of questions that don't matter. Thanks for the information you provided. Oh, wait...
  • Macbooks are great for writters. Sure it is very expensive and underpowered. But macbooks have Good design, compact, and excellent battery life. And they age very well. Still using a 2011 macbook air till now.
  • They have Windows laptops or Chromebooks with what you just said for less money. It's a status thing. Nothing more.
  • I wouldn't say they're well designed, compared to other notebooks.
  • First off, if you think you need a macbook to be creative, you're a victim of marketing. Next, the author of this article is a creator... Whether you think their creativity has worth is irrelevant, though if you don't I wonder why you're even here... It is creativity none the less. Lastly, who cares about "need"? I bet you don't need 90% of what you own... But that's no one elses concern, you can use a Razer blade to write your shopping lists if you can afford to, it's no one elses business. He uses it, because he likes it.
  • I own both a Mac and a Windows laptop and I'm not a blogger or writer but my goodness I prefer Mac over Windows. I'm constantly restarting my windows laptop and sound doesn't work after a couple days and then I have to reboot. It's just constant things going on. My Mac just keeps on trucking. As far as an iPhone, I don't touch that thing. I need a phone I can get things done with, not a toy.
  • Sounds like you bought a garbage Windows laptop then. There are plenty of good ones out there that don't run crappy.
  • Yep, I gotta weed through all the junk, wth Mac never had that issue. Thanks for making that point.
  • But Macs run an inferior, cartoonish, dated looking os. How can anyone do any serious work on them? And why don't they come in black? Black looks so much better.
  • 'Inferior' and 'cartoonish'? Lol If you don't like it that's fine, but your just showing your inner fanboy. Many of the people at Mobile Nations use Macs. That's their choice.
  • I guess writing thousands of words a week, coordinating with an expansive editorial team, traveling the world and working with photos and video on a daily basis isn't "creative." lol.
  • Is it important, though? I own a MacBook Pro too, and I know others who do. Can you find similarly specced Windows options for less or the same price? Well yes, but in the end, it's a preference thing.
  • Can't help but wonder if Apple will ever move iphone to USB C, it would make things more convenient since almost all computing devices are using it for charging now.
  • It would be great, but having a proprietary port in a device that sells in numbers like the iPhone is crazy lucrative. As nice as it would be for consumers, they'd be crazy to give that up.
  • To be honest, I don't see it happening... It would be good for consumers, and bad for Apple. And looking out for consumers isn't really apple's goal.
  • They won't. They make too much money and get too much free advertising with the Made For iPhone program.
  • Would be pretty wonderful but not sure what's in it for Apple when it makes a considerable amount of money off of licensing and accessories that interoperate with Lightning. And unlike a MacBook, there's little desire (or need) to make it open to interoperate with other devices.
  • I'll have to try this with my Razer Stealth! That would be a plus.
  • Let's double down and see if Andrew will check if the usb-c charger from the note 8 will work on his macbook. Fires and explosions, right? Oh wait, the note is dead...sorry.
  • Actually it's not, Samsung is releasing next model this year.
  • http://i.imgur.com/D6q3UMU.gif
  • Hahahahahahahaha so good.
  • Well considering none of the Note 7's problems were associated with the charger, I'd be happy to use a Note 8 charger on my MacBook provided it has USB-C Power Delivery (don't count on it).
  • Ok, this is something that I haven't really taken a look at because I haven't had a need for USB-C (yet). If I understand correctly, beside data transfer capabilities, PD is a way to standardize charging power supply and draw?
  • Am I the only one scared to death to use a USB-C charger that came with one device with another? Too many stories about phones getting destroyed and the Google guy actually having to test these things to help guide people what is compliant and what isn't.
  • As I understand it, those problems were all with USB A-C cables. If you charge via a C-C cable, you shouldn't have problems charging anything.
  • Negative, there's been plenty of issues and destroyed hardware (even desktop power supplies) from sub par Type C chargers, cables, and accessories that had issues with nothing in common with the original Type A to C resistor snafu. I'd be very careful when you buy a third party Type C charger, even from "known" brands like Anker/Aukey, they've all put out some duds (even Google with last year's Nexus chargers). The current Type C chargers Google sells are pretty darn good tho, both the Pixel 18W and the dual port 22W on the Play store... I'd argue, contrary to the article, that they aren't even that expensive considering they come with a pretty solid 6ft cable. The cable alone would run $20-25 from Google/Apple (the Apple one is actually the cheaper of the two and better FWIW).
  • Apple Sux
  • Is this Apple Central now?
  • We write 1 story about a MacBook every few weeks, and we're Apple Central now? Dang, what'd I miss here.
  • Hi Andrew, thanks for the article. I have both the Pixel XL and a brand new MacBook Pro. I'm wondering your thoughts on using the MacBook Pro 61W charger (with either Google's provided USB-C cable or Apple's) with my Pixel XL. Would the USB-C cable and Pixel XL know how to regulate the power appropriately? (I believe this is what USB-C is supposed to do. Google also sells a 60W USB-C charger). I'm a bit scared to connect the Apple charger to my Pixel...even with the official USB-C cables. Thoughts? And b4 all the haters start, I have a Microsoft Surface Book and a Chromebook as well as my new MacBook Pro. And I love all of them. And each was bought for a specific reason.
  • And that reason is...to impress us with all your tech usage. And gosh am I ever.
  • I regularly use the Pixel XL with my MacBook Pro's charger (sometimes it's all I have around) and it works just fine. The reason why the Pixel XL's charger works fine on the MacBook Pro is the same reason why it won't harm your Pixel XL to do it in the other direction :)
  • Thanks Andrew, I tried it and it worked! Thanks again for the article.
  • I've done this without even thinking about it. If it fits, it should work. Sometimes, I daisy chain thru MacBook Pro to charge both at the same time. Or, I charge one at a time. Either way, it charges so fast, I need only a couple of hours of charging for both. BTW, MacBook Pro is a legit laptop for Android phone users. There is no betrayal or conflict of interest.
  • Here's a fun little thing. I actually did the reverse and plugged the MacBook Pro's charger into my Moto Z. Didn't break it nor did it explode. Recognized it as a fast charger and drew only what it needed.