When Apple introduced the new MacBook in early 2015, with USB-C, the legendary MagSafe power connector had to go. Instead of innovating a replacement magnetic connector, Apple left the job to Griffin. It's called the BreakSafe, and it restores the MagSafe-like functionality to a MacBook. I was impressed. Almost, because it transports power only.
The thing to know about the BreakSafe is that its 6 foot (1.82 meter) USB-C cable comes in two parts. There's a small stub (or dongle) with a standard USB-C connector on one side and a magnetic connector on the other. This part weighs all of 4 grams. The other part is the 6 foot cable, again with USB-C on one end and the magnetic connector on the other.
You plug the long end of the cable into the power adapter as you would with Apple's cable. Or into any dock or hub that has passthrough power. In my case, I tested with OWC's USB-C Hub.
Because of the way the magnets are set up, one can only attach in one orientation: with the Griffin label on the top. Otherwise you get that awesome, squirrelly magnetic repulsion effect you first felt playing with magnets as a kid.
While the connector ends look like aluminum, I believe from tapping with a metal pen, they are plastic with aluminum-colored paint. I don't think this is of any consequence; the connectors felt sturdy and well made. They mate together cleanly and evenly.
The first thing I did was to tug on the connected magnets to see if it felt like the MagSafe connectors I've had in the past. It seemed to me, subjectively, that the force of the attraction was just a tad higher than I've been accustomed to with my previous MacBook Air.
However, to simulate someone (me) tripping over the cable, I took a swipe at it with my hand and watched closely. The breakaway effect was clean—meaning that the dongle attached to the MacBook didn't become dislodged or pulled askew. That tells me that the magnetic force is perfect: strong enough to stay put and weak enough to separate cleanly and gracefully with a moderate tug.
According to Griffin, "BreakSafe is compatible with USB Power Delivery and is rated up to 60 watts (20 volts at 3 amps)." However, the BreakSafe can deliver power only. It's not designed to pass data or video. That's a serious limitation when used with a hub that has, say, USB-A ports and passthrough power. In essence, you give up your ability to work with hubs and docks with passthrough data and power for the convenience of the BreakSafe technology. This is a serious consideration before a purchase decision.
What also may be of concern is losing the small dongle. With traditional Apple notebook, the interface is built into the computer with no extra ports. Just connect the charger cable. One thing Griffin might have included is a small plastic lanyard, much like the PenciCozy concept.
Packaging & Warranty
The packaging is notable. It's designed so that the operation of the product is immediately obvious, visible through the clear plastic under the flip-up cover. It's marked not just for MacBooks, but also for any notebook that uses USB-C, such as modern Chromebooks. Griffin's support URL and phone number are clearly printed on the back. English and metric units are used for international sale in addition to annotations in several foreign languages.
Griffin notes that this product is the first to be covered under its new "Guaranteed for life warranty program." An insert covers the special warranty terms in Australia.
If you're in a situation where you are, say, working in an airport gate area or lounge and mobile power is paramount, the BreakSafe would be a simple, lightweight and prudent accessory to have in your travel bag. (TMO deals has it for US$5 off.) However, for daily use on the desktop when you connect to a dock and a strong tug on the USB-C cable is unlikely, it seems more advisable to use a standard USB-C cable that can deliver power, data and video via the dock.