Apple's New USB-C/Thunderbolt Adapters Are Extremely Unreliable

Apple's New USB-C/Thunderbolt Adapters Are Extremely Unreliable

Apple has been causing controversy within the world of "working professionals" after releasing the new Macbook Pro laptops and replacing all old ports including USB, HDMI, power, and MiniDisplay, with Thunderbolt 3 ports. To use almost any accessory with your laptop you'll now need to buy a dongle... but the dongle doesn't even work. 

Today I was pointed to a video review of the new Macbook Pro 13 that appeared to be filmed in real time, without any editing. The video shows the Macbooks internet dropping out when different dongles are used, it shows the HDMI signal flickering, it shows the USB slot turning on and off, and it shows the entire computer lagging, so much so that the mouse movements aren't even smooth. 

After watching this video I assumed that something was wrong with this guys particular laptop or his particular dongle but if you head over to Apple's website you can see the reviews of their dongle. It very well may be the lowest rated product ever made by Apple. 

The only issue it that i use it to connect a wacom tablet to my 12" inch macbook, and there is a lag on the tablet, which wacom support says is because of the adapter.

This adapter is making the monitor flicker. If you move the MacBook or the cable my a millimeter the connection fails. 

HDMI connections have bad problems with flickering. Can crash the laptop when waking from sleep.

If you do decide to call support, expect to be on the phone for an hour only to be told "try plugging it into another port" on your single port usb-c macbook...

 For both adapters, frequent restarts are necessary to get a USB peripheral to be recognized. Unplug from the charger, plug in the adapter and a USB HD, and nothing. Restart the computer and there it is. Until you sleep the computer, that is. Restart again!!

 I tried several less expensive adaptors but were all junk and would not properly work via HDMI connection. So I decided to splash the cash and get the Apple one assuming you'll need to pay a premium for this to work. Unfortunately it was the same scenario.

I have had it for 4 days now and the USB connection to my keyboard and mouse has become intermittent.

I've gone through 3 of these already, on the first 2, the charge-thru didn't work, so I couldn't use it with a second peripheral. Now the 3rd has stopped working reliably.

Hopefully this is simply a software issue that can be fixed but many fear that this is an issue with USB-C/Thunderbolt in general. It's not just this particular dongle that has negative reviews. And as we can see from the video, these adapters appear to work on other laptops just fine. Other dongles and adapters seem to have similar issues as well which either means the market is flooded with unreliable adapters or there is something unreliable about USB-C in general. Hopefully Apple will come out with a fix soon.

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Rodney Turner's picture

I feel title is misleading since he used a third party adapter. Other issue is he never tried other ports. I do understand the point he was trying to make.

Justin Berrington's picture

The article says he didn't just have issues with the apple one but third party dongles as well. So did someone in the comments listed from the apple website. Also, one of the comments from the apple site says that the customer service rep suggested he use different ports. While the comment doesn't go on to say that he did indeed try the other ports, I thinks it's safe to assume that was tried prior to his comment.

Rodney Turner's picture

I apologize I didn't read whole article.

Deleted Account's picture

Headline says the Apple adapter doesn't work, period. May well be true, but extrapolating from a video that talks to third party versions and then tying them to a bit more than a handful of comments in order to come to a full bore conclusion of "doesn't work" is sloppy journalism, at best. Couple that with the fact that the article leads you to believe that dongle that isn't working in the video is the Apple one, even continuing to say so after the video is offered is, at best, disingenuous, if not outright misleading.

Sorry, but the article is poorly done and I'm being courteous to even say that much positive about it.

Lee Morris's picture

The video led me to the review page for Apples product which has almost 100% negative reviews from users explaining "how it doesn't work" and that is where the title came from. Even though I think the title is fair, it probably wasn't the best choice so I changed it to something a little more descriptive.

Deleted Account's picture

Headline update is better, but article still suffers. At the end of the day, jumping to conclusions on the basis of forum-based product reviews are suspect. I personally think Apple is being idiotic with the USB-C decision(s), to say the least, but if you'e doing this right, you're testing it a lot more reliably than a bad Youtube video.

Deleted Account's picture

Also, statistical relevance is important. A hundred negative reviews from a thousand purchasers is huge. A hundred negative reviews from a million purchasers is margin of error in a manufacturing process, especially when we already know the port switch is undesired, so leading to a greater likelihood of complaint.

Long story short, I think you jumped the gun with this article.

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

I would consider Apple a Quit Cold-turkey company with their product features. They never slowly bring their users to a new way of doing things, like having USB 3.0 and including a USB-C on their fall product line, then finally going to just USB-C only in their spring/summer line. They just stop cold turkey and take it all away at once and leave the consumer to figure it out.

More consumers would be happy to see the new macbook Pro have USB-C but also include a USB 3.0 port. This now give the rest of the industry time to make new products so next gen we will all know USB-C will be standard and there will be a wide range of products available for us.

I kow I say this all the time but it never works. I would tell everyone to boycott apple till they listen to the consumers, but i know it will never happen, its like when EA release a game and everyone hates EA but we all still buy the game . Battlefront anyone/

Deleted Account's picture

Lost me at headline lambasting Apple's adapter and a video that starts off using somebody else's... Still agree that USB-C only isn't making sense to me, but your editor isn't very competent or is entirely missing.

Noah Hayes's picture

Lee is one of the two founders of FStoppers (Patrick is the other one)

Gypsy Frank's picture

Does Lee have it out for Apple so bad that he looks for anything painting them in a negative light when even HE doesn't use any of their products other than the iPhone? Anytime you post something about an Apple product it's always to shovel shit at them. I'm starting to feel like you have an axe to grind against the company. At this point I feel like you should stop posting articles about them unless you're going to actually purchase and use the products they make and give them a fair shake like every other reviewer on the internet does. It's just starting to look bad and makes me question all of your other articles now.

Mike Stern's picture

Gypsy Frank.
You are not alone, the moment I saw it was Lee writing the article, I read it with half eye, half brain. His opinions about Apple products have been as expected.
I also don't like the dongle issue on the new Macs, but I am waiting to see how it folds out really. They were right on the cd rom dropping.

Jonathan Reid's picture

I think this article is totally fair. Whenever apple is mentioned, emotions cloud people's judgement, but if this product were any other brand, it would be crucified.

Michael Kormos's picture

"An Apple whine a day keeps the readers away" - The new Lee Morris

Patrick Hall's picture

I think it's a bit of karma since so many photographers and creative professionals give any windows users shit because they don't use a Mac. The tides are turning and more and more windows users are coming out of the shadows now that Apple has proven to be a hindrance for creatives

Anonymous's picture

Who cares? Seriously I could not give a crap what computer a creative uses. Is the work good? That's all that matters. if apple is "hindering" you as a creative that's a bit sad IMHO. dont listen to people who give windows users shit. Is that something people care about? I use what I use because it works for me. I don't care what anyone else uses because what does that have to do with me and my work?

David Liang's picture

By your reasoning all those years of alleged Apple users giving shit to Windows users, is somehow the fault of Apple and not specific people? Shouldn't the "users" giving shit, be the one's getting "karma" in return?
If I kicked you in the nuts for wearing Adidas, because I liked Nike, would I be blamed for the assault or would Nike?

JeanLuc LaBarre's picture

Serious number of whiners here.
Grow up. It's just an article on some flippin dongles.

Spy Black's picture

Function following form, the Apple Mantra.

Noah Hayes's picture

Another Lee Morris post criticizing Apple...we get it, you're a PC user...nearly every computer related article you write you have to make corrections on once someone calls you out in the comments. You're a great photographer, stick to posts about photography, not computer hardware.

I'm not defending Apple or saying that the dongles work or that USB C is the right/wrong way to go, but EVERYTIME I see an article on fstoppers with a click bait headline about Apple it's written by Lee.

Anonymous's picture

Come on Lee. Stop with these articles. This is a photography website. I get gear/computers are important but what does this contribute to the photography community at large? I used to come to this site to learn and view great photography content but it's getting lost in this tech review mess.


Lee has first hand experience with the Apple dongle. Just yesterday he plugged the Fstoppers website server in to an Apple dongle. We all saw what happened.

Lee Morris's picture

For those asking why I keep writing anti-apple articles I'll give you an honest answer. It's exciting news when the most popular product in a segment has a problem. If a Dell laptop had a similar issue I probably wouldn't bother writing about it because there's a good chance not a single Fstoppers reader will ever own that laptop. There is a very good chance that 50% of Fstoppers readers own a Macbook Pro or plan to buy one. That makes this very relevant news. I'm a Windows user, but that doesn't mean I hate Apple. I own a ton of Apple products. I own a lot of Apple stock. Even though I don't plan to ever buy a Macbook Pro it's very interesting even to me to see a professional product like this with so much controversy.

If an Olympus camera had issues I probably wouldn't write about it. If the new Nikon D5 had a major issue, you better believe I'm going to write about it; even though I don't own a D5.

Anonymous's picture

I completely understand your points Lee. I think these articles are fine it's just the frequency and amount of them. I'm not trying to tell you how to do your job but maybe throw in some instructional content, bts from a shoot you just did or something other than opinions about a computer/peripherals. I think most people on here are fully aware of Apple and it's products and can do research for themselves.

I'm very greatful for all the time you guys put into this website but Apple content gets tiresome after a while. I think people just want variety from you that's all.

Anonymous's picture

I do not think you are writing anti apple articles ... more are pro apple articles ... but this is fair article ....
And people this is not usb type c connector ...this is new thunderbolt which is compatible with usb type c . and the problems looks like more inside of the macbook then in the hub. and i agree with Todd C ...let`s give us some perspective from another mobile brands and their products.

Dan Cantero's picture

Thank you for the post. All my workflow is based on Apple gear. I use articles such as these to make educated decisions for any future purchases. I am currently on the market for a replacement for my current MacBookPro. As much as I want the new MacBook Pro to be perfect it may turn out that it isn't. I might just wait before I hand over a load of cash until I'm sure it's the right system for me. If not then that's ok. My current MBP can still do me for a while until they get it right. Thank's Lee.

Lee Morris's picture

Glad someone likes it :)

Jacques Cornell's picture

This article is highly misleading, written as if it were a political ad - employing generalization, misdirection and innuendo. The headline accuses Apple, but the key "evidence" concerns a 3rd-party product. The only actual evidence against Apple is the reviews page, which is hearsay and inevitably slanted by folks who have issues with the product. When a product is brand-new, the first reviews are likely to be negative, since folks with favorable but limited experience with it are not yet motivated to post. The lack of any statistical context makes even this hearsay completely invalid as a basis for drawing generalized conclusions. Really, guys, this is just irresponsible.

paul jay's picture

The Dell usb-c hdmi, vga, usb3, LAN adapter works perfectly. Cheaper and more in 1 unit.

Jason Lorette's picture

How this is a "Pro" version of their Macbook is beyond me. Max 16GB of RAM, no card slot, on and on at a price point that is outrageous for the product that you get. I hope that sales of this unit seriously lag so that Apple wakes up, this is not a pro product by any stretch of the imagination simply a pro price tag.

Ben Saunders's picture

Have a nice Dell XPS 15 9550. USB-C/Thunderbolt port has worked perfectly. Also has multiple USB3.0 ports and HDMI. Went to this from my old MB and now glad I did. But everyone should use whatever tools help their particular workflow.