Now I’ll admit, the Pencil can look a little silly when it’s sticking out of the side of the iPad when it’s sitting on its side, but it comes with some serious benefits as well. Let’s take a look at Apple’s options for charging the Pencil and see how they stack up.
I wrote that article in defense of the first Apple Pencil’s charging method. Yes, it looked silly, but when considering the other options people bright up, I didn’t see those being better. I still stand by many of the things in that piece, but I wrote it with the perspective of the old iPad Pro design.
Regular wireless charging was brought up, but the tech to make the wireless charging coils we have in phones work in the Apple Pencil were impractical and using the existing smart connector didn’t work because (a) you couldn’t charge as you typed, (b) all cases covered the smart connector so you’d need to take any cases off, and (c) the sides of the iPad were too rounded to make the Pencil connect securely.
I didn’t like the other solutions presented, but I did end up suggesting this:
The way I see making this work is for Apple to release an iPad Pro with 2 Smart Connectors. One is on the left side and one on the right. This would let people connect their keyboards either way, and use the second connector for their Pencil. This also assumes the iPad and Pencil are updated so that the Pencil can make a solid connection when laying down on a table. It also assumes that Apple puts some super powerful magnets in the side so that the Pencil stays on there securely.
I was actually super close! They did add a second connector (not a smart one, though), they did change the iPad Pro sides to accommodate this, and they added some super powerful magnets to make it stick securely. My biggest miss was thinking that Apple wasn’t going to do this.
So anyway, I stand by the idea of the first Apple Pencil having good (or at least good enough) design considering the limitations of the previous iPad Pro hardware, but I’m happy to see Apple make the changes to both the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil needed to make the product better. I will not argue the old method was better than the new one, but I do think it was better than many people give it credit for.
Related, people aways talked about the old method as making it basically guaranteed that the Pencil was going to snap off the iPad because it was pointing out so far. Did this actually happen to anyone or is it just something that could theoretically happen but never did?