When Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president, first introduced the Lightning connector in September 2012, he explained that it would be Apple’s charging standard “for the next decade.” And so it is time to abandon it.
The rumors have been circulating for a while, but in recent days they have multiplied and are starting to arrive from increasingly reliable sources. The last two, in chronological order, are market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and the Bloomberg website.
1. Portless iPhone may cause more problems due to current limitations of wireless technologies & the immature MagSafe ecosystem.
2. Other Lightning port products (e.g., AirPods, Magic Keyboard/Trackpad/Mouse, MagSafe Battery) would also switch to USB-C in the foreseeable future. https://t.co/KD14TgBmtr
— ??? (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) May 15, 2022
Both agree that the USB-C will arrive on the iPhone, but not the next: the debut is scheduled for the model of 2023. Kuo, however, adds another important element, suggesting that the other Lightning products, including the AirPods, also they will pass to Usb-C in a reasonably short time. It is not impossible, at least for two reasons: first, it is mostly accessories, where the Lightning connector is only used for charging, second, the move would give Apple the possibility of using a single connector for all its products, excluding the MagSafe used on laptops, which can still be loaded using the Usb ports. And this leads to the third reason, the most important one: the pressure of the European Community on consumer electronics manufacturers to adapt to the USB-C standard, and the threats of even heavy penalties for those who do not align. Behind the move of the EU is the desire to reduce economic waste (around 250 million euros a year for new battery chargers) and the ecological impact (a thousand tons of electronic waste less).
A history of connectors
Apple introduced the Lightning connector with the iPhone 5, which first replaced the bulky 30-pin dock connector with a smaller plug, which could be plugged into the device without worrying about looking in the right direction. It then arrived on iPad, AirPods in all versions, Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and even on the iPhone case with battery. In some cases, as in the first version of the Apple Pencil or in the Magic Mouse, the position of the connector is uncomfortable beyond the imaginable, the result of winning design choices but completely crazy as regards practical use.
However, it must be said that the importance of the Lighting connector for accessories was not comparable to that of its predecessor, because in the meantime many manufacturers have adopted wireless connections. So the docks and speakers compatible with the iPhone, for example, are much less than those for the iPod (which also used the 30-pin connector). Another hit to the market came with the MagSafe in the iPhone version, which allows you to charge the phone and keep it in place, thanks to the powerful magnets on the back. Apple hasn’t pushed this feature as hard as it could have, and the ecosystem of MagSafe compatible accessories is pretty limited here too. It is hardly necessary to remember that none of these standards can be used freely by third parties: to do so you have to pay a license, in addition to respecting precise hardware and software indications.
Meanwhile, Apple has included USB-C ports on several products, starting with the iPad Pro, also in the version with the additional Thunderbolt standard for faster data transfer, and recently also on the iPad Air. Also all the chargers currently in the catalog have a Usb-C socket, where a different cable must be inserted from time to time: for the Watch, for the iPad, for the iPhone, for the MacBook. Yet in Cupertino they declare themselves opposed to the transition for the iPhone.
The data transfer speed could be another push to abandon Lightning, which today is not competitive in terms of performance with iPads using USB-C. Here too, however, wi-fi and 5G fill the gap very well. Always waiting for the elusive iPhone without physical connections, which Apple has been testing for some time and is not ready yet. No power cable, no headphone jack (abandoned as early as the 20th), no Sim card slot: perfectly smooth and impenetrable, as Steve Jobs imagined it.