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iPad USB Charging Issue is a Big Bummer

by on April 06, 2010
in Phones and Mobile, News, Portable Players, iPods & MP3 Players :: 4 comments

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Yesterday, in our review of the iPad, we mentioned the issues we were having charging through our Dell's USB port. Plug it in and we get a “not charging” notification message, even though the manual says that it should "charge slowly".

Turns out, the problem isn't us. The iPad requires a "high-powered" USB port to charge normally—a port that is only found on the latest Mac notebooks and desktops. So if you have an older Mac or a Windows-based PC, the iPad will, at best, only charge slowly and only while it is not turned on.

It also doesn't help that the included power cord with the iPad is so short that it is difficult to charge while in use, even using a wall outlet.

While there are still a lot of things I like about the iPad, the charging bit gets a big thumbs-down.

Discussion loading

From Khürt Williams on April 07, 2010 :: 11:29 pm

I think the iPad is the first USB powered device that requires a high powered USB port.  I have seen a few external hard drives that won’t run at all on the lower powered ports on older computers.

The issue is that some manufacturers produce cheap non-standard compliant products:


From Josh Kirschner on April 08, 2010 :: 12:02 am

The issue isn’t with non-standard hubs.  On the contrary, it’s that the iPad requires a “high-power” USB port, which is not standard on most products.

To get a little technical, the USB power standard is 5 Volts at 500 Milliamps. Almost all devices, with the exception of the newest Macs use this standard.  The Apple iPad requires a 12 Volt/1200mA port to charge at normal speed and while powered on. Macworld provided a great explanation here:

We definitely feel that:
1) Apple should be more forthcoming about this in their product materials - not being able to charge normally on the vast majority of consumer devices is something potential buyers should know about.
2) Given #1, supply a decent length cable for outlet charging, rather than the far-too-short 3’ included cable.  How much would it cost Apple to include a practical 6’ cable instead?  An extra 42 cents?

For a product that otherwise hits the bullseye in many other user experience areas, this was way off the mark.


From Khürt Williams on April 08, 2010 :: 8:06 am

Those are valid points about the USB (now that I know the details).  Perhaps Apple meant the USB to be used to transfer data instead of charging the device. In any case, they should be clear about the requirements for charging the iPad.

I don’t mind a 3 ft cord.  I don’t think the iPad (like the iPhone or iPod Touch) is meant to be used while charging.  However, I could see how people used to a laptop metaphor of computing might expect otherwise.


The iPad charging slowly on

From John Broadbent on February 07, 2011 :: 2:17 am

The iPad charging slowly on older Mac’s and Window PC’s is a bit of a bummer. It is a bit strange why Apple made the power cord for the iPad so short in the first place, it shouldn’t be so difficult charging it and using it at the same time. Thanks for the help!


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