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(Pocket-lint) - The new iPad Pro (2018) models each feature a USB-C port for the first time, but what does that mean exactly? What can you connect to the new iPads? What can't you connect? And how can you get the most out of replacement to the Lightning port?

What you can connect

The move to USB-C should open up a heap of possibilities on what you can now connect to your iPad Pro. It's still early days in terms of manufacturer support but here's what we know you can connect, by either having tried it ourselves or getting the official thumbs up from device makers.

Charge your iPhone

That's right, if you've got a USB-C to Lightning cable you can charge your iPhone straight from the iPad, helping you top it up if you're running low on battery.

You will need that dedicated cable to do it, but the good news is that when you aren't using the cable to connect to the iPad, you can benefit (if you're using the iPhone 8 or above) from fast charging using either a MacBook or the iPad Pro's charging plug.

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USB-C SD card reader

Any USB-C card readers will work and give you access to photos and video stored on a card through the iPad Pro. The catch is that everything will have to be imported into your Camera Roll first. You can't bypass this even if you are using apps like Lightroom CC.

USB-C and USB thumb drives

Contrary to reports that thumb drives cannot be plugged in, you can if they are USB-C or via a USB-C adapter. However, you'll only be able access photos or video rather than work files. And those photos and videos have to be in a folder structure that mirrors an SD card. So, for Canon users, for example, that will be something like DCIM/100CANON.

Displays and monitors

You'll be able to connect the iPad Pro to a USB-C ready monitor or display to either mirror the app you are using or, in some apps, see a dual-view with different information. App developers will have to add dual-view support and currently there isn't a list of apps offering this. We've so far seen a video editing app that allows you to see the output on the display and the controls on the iPad.

We would love to see dual-view come to photo editing and drawing apps, whereby you can see a zoomed in view on the iPad but the full image on the external display to save you having to zoom in and out all the time.

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HDMI displays or TVs

Apple sells an iPad to HDMI display or TV adapter allowing you to quickly output to a TV for a presentation or watch a movie. Apple's own adapter can output video from iPad Pro at up to 4K resolution and 30Hz.


There is no 3.5 headphone jack on the iPad Pro (2018) models so, if you want to connect a pair of wired headphones, you'll need to get a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter.


You shouldn't have any problem connecting a USB keyboard to your iPad Pro even if you are using a Lightning connector to USB-C cable, or a standard USB keyboard through a USB-A to USB-C adapter.

Hubs and docks

Hubs aren't a problem either and there are already plenty on the market that offer a stack of connections in one unit.

The HyperDrive USB-C Hub, for example, connects directly to the new 2018 iPad Pro to add six new ports: 4K HDMI, 35mm Audio Jack, SD, Micro SD, USB-A 3.0 and USB-C Power Delivery. Anker offers a 7-in-1 hub that comes with 60W Power Delivery, 4K USB C to HDMI Output, MicroSD/SD Card Reader, and 3 USB 3.0 Ports.

USB MIDI devices

MIDI devices like musical keyboards will work as long as you have an app to make use of the input. We've not being able to connect a USB microphone via a USB-C adapter as yet though.


You've probably always seen the iPad as a wireless device, but that changes with the iPad Pro (2018) models. Using a USB-C Ethernet adapter you can now connect the iPad Pro to the internet via a 10Gigbit connection rather than having to rely solely on Wi-Fi.

Apple Watch

Like your iPhone, Apple offers the ability to charge your Apple Watch via a dedicated Apple Watch Magnetic Charger to USB-C Cable. 

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Nintendo Switch

Remarkably, you can charge a Switch console from the iPad, but you have to make sure you plug the USB-C to USB-C cable into the Switch first. Doing so will drain power from the iPad to the console.

If you plug the cable into the iPad first you'll end up charging your iPad from the Switch instead. All you have to do is decide whether Mario or work is more important. 

What you can't connect

While there are a few devices you can connect to the new iPad Pro tablets there are plenty of USB-C enabled devices you can't. Here are the ones we know about so far. 

USB-C and USB thumb drives (part 2)

As we've stated above, you can access thumbsticks to see photos and videos but, at the moment, you can't see anything else because Apple doesn't offer file directory access through the Files app. So, no handing someone a Word document on a thumb drive hoping it will work.

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USB-C hard drives

As with the thumb drives, these don't work. Apple told Pocket-lint that it could change though if hard drive manufacturers provide apps that would allow access. You are still going to be limited in what you can and can't do, however.


Printers don't work either from what we've seen. If you want to print something with the iPad Pro you are going to have to do it wirelessly.

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Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 7 November 2018.