When Apple unveils the iPhone 15 lineup in two months, it will also announce the first charging port change since the iPhone 5. For many iPhone users, however, nothing will change in the way the iPhone is charged.
30-pin to Lightning
In retrospect, it’s a little hard to believe that Apple only made five iPhone models that used the original charging port. Launched 16 years ago, the original iPhone used the same 30-pin charging port as the iPod line.
When Apple’s 30-pin connector arrived on the iPhone, it was an acceptable charging option. The plug only connected when facing forward, but was no longer locked into place with prongs on either side.
Apple only provided this charging port on the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. However, public reaction when the iPhone 5 transitioned to the current Lightning port wasn’t exactly positive in 2012.
This is largely because the adoption of the 30-pin connector has had a head start due to the popularity of the iPod. It didn’t help that Apple’s 30-pin to Lightning adapter was in short supply when the iPhone 5 was launched.
From USB-A to USB-C
While it’s true that the iPhone hasn’t changed its charging port in over a decade, that may not be how customers see it.
Apple has begun shipping a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box with the iPhone 11 Pro to unlock faster charging. The iPhone 5 to iPhone XS (and not the Pro 11) came with a USB-A to Lightning cable. Apple has also included the charging brick in the box.
A year later, Apple stopped including the power adapter in the box to save the planet and replaced USB-A to Lightning with USB-C to Lightning for iPhone 12. If the two people who borrowed my iPhone charger in the last month I’m someone Indication, iPhone customers are still discovering the benefits of faster charging with USB-C to Lightning and a 20W power adapter.
USB-C remains the new plug for Apple despite being first adopted on a new product in 2015.
From Lightning to USB-C
These days, Apple lets you charge with USB-C on everything from MacBooks and iPads to Apple TV remotes and Beats headphones. Everything but the iPhone, that is.
That will change with the iPhone 15 line, whether Apple likes it or not. For many of us, the transition from Lightning to USB-C is long overdue. Apple’s insistence on shipping Lightning all these years has only made the upcoming transition worse.
But for many iPhone customers (including some 9to5Mac readers), the switch from Lightning to USB-C (whether Apple likes it or not) is a terrible change. Regardless of what other Apple products have done, the Lightning ecosystem is thriving for many. Having to invest in a new charging socket (whether Apple likes it or not) is a headache. We have it.
However, there is something different about this charging transition. For some iPhone users, the charging port used by Apple makes no difference. Apple could replace Lightning with VGA, and it wouldn’t matter for charging purposes, that is.
That’s because Apple added, not replaced, a charging method six years ago with wireless charging. iPhone X and iPhone 8 were the first to support the Qi charging standard, and iPhone 12 greatly improved the MagSafe experience. For some users, the iPhone charging port is simply a back door and lint collector.
There’s probably a lot of crossover between people who use wireless charging and people who look forward to USB-C iPhones. However, for some iPhone customers, the switch from Lightning to USB-C with the iPhone 15 lineup won’t make any difference. Use the same MagSafe charger on your iPhone 15 that you’ve been using since the iPhone 12. That’s not something you could say for the latest big iPhone port swap.
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