iPad charging and recognition from Mac depending on connection method

Depending on the connection and power supply method, the iPad may or may not charge. It is also important to be able to power the iPad when working for a long hours, such as when debugging iPad apps in Xcode.

In this article, we investigated different charging conditions depending on the connection method, recognition conditions from Mac (or rather Xcode), and charging efficiency depending on the power supply method.

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Devices used for investigation

The iPads and Macs used in this investigation are as follows.

  • iPad Pro 12.9 inch (The 5th generation)
  • MacBook Pro 13 inch M1 2020

The operating systems for each are as follows.

DeviceOS
iPad ProiPadOS 15.6.1
MacBook PromacOS Monterey 12.5.1
OS

The following other accessories and cables were used. Some of them have changed models, so the exact same ones may not be available now.

  • Apple USB-C Charge Cable (1m)
  • Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
  • Apple 20W USB-C Power Adapter
  • CalDigit TS3 Plus (Thunderbolt 3 Dock)
  • CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Cable (Adaptive cable)
  • TUNEWEAR ALMIGHTY DOCK C1
  • Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim (Four Ports)
  • Anker PowerLine+ USB-C & USB-A 3.0 Cable (0.9m)

The following devices were also used to measure the voltage and current supplied to the iPad by the USB-C cable and the USB-C & USB-A cable.

  • RouteR RT-TC6VABK
  • RouteR RT-USBVAC8QC

Summary of each connection method and charging availability

The following is a summary of the checked connections and charging availability.

Mac – iPad

It connects directly to a Mac. Naturally, it can be charged and debugged without problems.

Direct connection between Mac and iPad
Direct connection between Mac and iPad

Mac – Multiport Adaptor – iPad

This is for a connection with an AV Multiport adapter between Mac and iPad. It does not charge and is not recognized by Xcode. It is possible to connect via network, but there is no point in having a cable connection.

Connecting via AV Multiport Adapter
Connecting via AV Multiport Adapter

Mac – Thunderbolt 3 Dock – iPad

This is the case of a Thunderbolt 3 Dock between a Mac and an iPad: the Thunderbolt 3 Dock is connected to the Mac side, and the iPad is connected to the USB C port of the Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Thunderbolt 3 cable between Mac and Thunderbolt 3 Dock, and USB C cable between Thuderbolt 3 Dock and iPad.

Charging is unstable. It repeatedly switches between showing that it is charging and not charging, is not recognized by Xcode, and the OS displays a notification that the USB port is low on power.

I’m a little unclear why it’s not working, since it’s connected as a normal USB device; it didn’t work when connected to Type-A too.

Insufficient power for USB devices
Insufficient power for USB devices
Connect via Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Connect via Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Mac – USB C Dock – iPad

This is the case where the USB C Dock is placed between the Mac and the iPad. However, the USB C Dock is connected to the iPad side. In this case, charging is stable and the USB port power shortage notification does not appear. However, it is not recognized by Xcode. Since the USB C port of the USB C Dock I used is not dedicated for power supply, I thought it might be possible, but it was not.

Connect via USB C Dock
Connect via USB C Dock

Mac – USB C Dock – iPad

The same USB C Dock is connected to a Mac and an iPad is connected to the Type A port of the Dock. Not only is charging stable here, but it is also recognized by Xcode and debugging is possible.

It’s natural to have this connection method since the side that connects to the Mac is the USB Upstream and the iPad is hanging normally on the Type-A. I’m starting to wonder why the Thunderbolt 3 Dock didn’t work.

Check voltage and current for each connection method

Since this article focuses on charging, we checked the voltage and current for each connection method. The following table shows the results.

Connection MethodVoltage Electric current Electric power
Direct connection to Mac Approx. 4.920V Approx. 2.915A 14.34W
Connects to Mac via AV Multiport Adapter Approx. 5.149V Approx. 0.101A 0.52W
Connects to Apple 20W USB-C power adapter via AV Multiport Adapter Approx. 8.970V Approx. 1.379A 12.37W
Connects to Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim via AV Multiport Adapter Approx. 14.99V Approx. 2.488A 37.30W
Connects to Mac via Thunderbolt 3 DockUnable to measure (repeatedly disconnected and connected)Unable to measure (repeatedly disconnected and connected)
Connect to Mac via USB C Dock (Dock on iPad side) Approx. 4.859V Approx. 1.409A 6.85W
Connect to Mac via USB C Dock (Dock on Mac side, iPad on Type A of Dock) Approx. 5.109V Approx. 1.039A 5.31W
Apple 20W USB-C Power Adapter Approx. 8.899V Approx. 2.133A 18.98W
Anker PowerPort Atom III Slim Approx. 15.001V Approx. 2.420A 36.30W

Power was multiplied by the measured voltage and current and rounded to two decimal places.

Charging with a charger is the fastest charging time.

Looking at the power supplied, charging with a charger, such as the Anker PowerPort AtomIII Slim or the Apple 20W USB-C Power Adapter, would provide more power and take less time than connecting to a Mac.

Insufficient current when connected to Mac via AV Multiport adapter

I couldn’t find any official documentation, but according to information written on the Internet, the iPad requires at least 3V voltage and 1.5A current to charge, and when connected to a Mac via the AV Mulitport adapter, only 0.1A is supplied, which seems to be insufficient current.

However, when the AV Multiport Adapter is connected to a charger or power adapter, it is supplying the necessary current and power, so I think this means that the USB C port on the AV Multiport Adapter is only a power supply port and is only for power supply from the charger or power adapter. It does not support communication for connecting normal USB devices. (And the symbol on the adapter is “power supply”)

Note that the results did not change when the AV Multiport Adapter’s Type-A port was connected via a USB-C to Type A conversion adapter.

Debugging from Xcode looks good with a network connection

When debugging an application from Xcode, the longer it takes, the less battery power the iPad will have, so you want to do it while charging (powering) the battery. Based on the results of this study, it seems that the best way to debug is to set up a network connection with Xcode and use a charger or power adapter to supply power while debugging.

If it is not recognized by Xcode, it is not recognized by Mac either

Using a developer tool called IORegistryExplorer, I checked to see if the connected iPad was recognized, and when it was not recognized by Xcode, the iPad was not recognized as being connected to the Mac. This is even when it is charging.

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Author of this article

Akira Hayashiのアバター Akira Hayashi Representative, Software Engineer

I am an application developer loves programming. This blog is a tech blog, its articles are learning notes. In my work, I mainly focus on desktop and mobile application development, but I also write technical books and teach seminars. The websites of my work and books are here -> RK Kaihatsu.

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