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I don't have many peripherals, but traveling frequently I've acquired the habit of not carrying extra USB chargers, but charging iPhone and Apple Watch via the laptop overnight. Can't do that on the "cheap" (non-touchbar) model (while also charging) without extra hub. Worse now with the AirPods.

USB-C to lightning cable?

Why you can't? It has two ports.

Also, nobody does that, stop making excuses.

err, well, I do do that. And it's not an excuse, it's a complaint. Finally, let us count together:

1 port to charge the computer,

1 port (with USB-C to lightning cable, $19) for the iPhone,

1 port (with USB-C to plain old USB dongle, $9) for the Apple Watch,

1 port (with USB-C to lightning cable, $19) for the AirPods

That makes 4 ports, and I have 2. Thus, hub it is.

I think his/her complaint about your complaint (uh oh. we broke it.) is that this would be the case for any USB config. If you had the same situation with current USB cables, you'd still need to get a hub so the problem isn't actually USB-C, just the number of devices you're using at the same time.

But but but the old MacBook Air had one MagSafe and two USB ports (and SD card and Thunderbolt), so it had strictly more ports, and I could charge it all at the same time (except now AirPods).

But yes, the problem is not USB-C per se, the problem is the small number of ports unless you pony up for the TouchPad model.

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