For the first time in more than a decade, you may need a different cable to power your iPhone. Apple executives he said the company intends to comply with European rules requiring all new phones to use the same common USB-C charging port. Most phones already use USB-C, with Apple being the main outlier.
When asked whether Apple will switch to USB-C, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the company “has no choice”. Apple “will abide by local laws” as it does around the world, Joswiak said during an appearance at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference call in October.
That said, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how Apple will transition to USB-C for iPhone. Apple rarely discusses new products before announcing them, which means we don’t have much information on details like whether all new iPhones will have USB-C or only those sold in Europe.
Apple declined to share any further details about future plans to bring USB-C to the iPhone.
Will the iPhone 15 have a USB-C charging port?
There’s a possibility that the iPhone 15 could have a USB-C port instead of the Lightning connector, but that’s impossible to know until Apple releases its next iPhone. EU rules say all mobile phones sold in the EU will need to have a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024. That means it’s unclear whether Apple will begin the transition in 2023 with what presumably will be the iPhone 15, or if it will wait until 2024.
But Chiew Le Xuan, a research analyst for Canalys, thinks the switch could come sooner rather than later.
“What we think is that Apple will bring Type-C to the iPhone 15 series,” he said. “So, similar to what they did for iPads [and] Macs: they just changed the whole product line.”
Apple has reportedly tested iPhone models with USB-C in the past. Bloomberg reported last May that Apple was testing future iPhone models with USB-C, as well as an adapter that would allow these iPhones to work with Lightning connections. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities known for his Apple predictions, also said Apple plans to convert the iPhone to USB-C in 2023. Leaker ShrimpApplePro (also who leaked the design of Dynamic Island Soon) tweeted in April that USB-C versions of Apple’s EarPod wired headphones are in mass production, potentially suggesting that the next iPhone could have a USB-C port.
It’s also worth noting that Apple is a member of the USB Implementers Forum, a non-profit organization formed to further promote USB development and adoption.
What is the reasoning behind the new EU rules?
The new mandate is part of an effort to simplify the charging experience for consumers and reduce e-waste.
“Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they buy a new device, as they will be able to use a single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices,” it reads. a European press release Parliament’s press release.
The change is also intended to help reduce the estimated 11,000 tonnes (12,125 tonnes) of annual e-waste from unused chargers in the EU, the release said.
Will all future iPhones adopt USB-C or only those in Europe?
This is another question that we won’t know the answer to until Apple releases future iPhone models. But Maurice Klahne, a senior research analyst at Counterpoint Research, thinks it likely Apple will transition the iPhone to USB-C more broadly rather than keep it region-specific.
“It’s just too expensive to make different devices for different regions,” he said. “And then Apple will probably switch everywhere in one go.”
What advantages does USB-C offer over Lightning?
Switching to USB-C could bring more benefits and convenience for iPhone owners. For example, you might use the same charger that powers other devices, like your MacBook or iPad laptop, to charge your iPhone. There’s also a large ecosystem of accessories for USB-C, considering it’s been standard on most electronic devices for the better part of the last decade. Many of Apple’s products already rely on USB-C rather than Lightning, such as the iPad Air, iPad Pro, and Apple’s line of MacBooks.
It’s possible that switching to USB-C could result in faster charging and data transfers, particularly on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Kuo reported that only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will support high-speed data transfers over USB-C, for example.
Le Xuan agrees, saying Apple will likely do more to separate the regular iPhone 15 from its premium sibling this year.
“Going into a Type-C switch, we’ll likely see some sort of differentiation between Pro and Pro Max and non-Pro Max in terms of charging speed,” he said.
Will I need an Apple-specific USB-C cable?
You shouldn’t need an Apple-made cable to charge your iPhone when Apple switches to USB-C. After all, that would defeat the purpose of the EU’s push for a universal charging cable.
But the company could potentially make Apple-certified USB-C cables offer advantages over non-certified alternatives. Kuo, for example, reports that Apple will likely optimize chargers that are part of the company’s MFi certification program to offer faster charging speeds. ShrimpApplePro it also tweeted in February that cables without MFi certification will be limited in charging and data transfer speeds.
Apple has not spoken about its plans for the iPhone 15 or future USB-C charging cables other than comments made at the Wall Street Journal conference. But a move like this could help Apple boost its ecosystem of accessories while maintaining a certain level of exclusivity as it embraces the move to a universal iPhone charger.
“Even though their walled-in garden isn’t so walled-in anymore,” Klahne said, “they can still make these small adjustments to keep their iOS base more isolated from the general Android market.”
Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 15 range sometime in September during its annual product launch event. In addition to USB-C charging, rumors suggest new solid-state buttons are coming to Pro models, while Dynamic Island is expected to expand to non-Pro versions.
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