With news that the European Parliament has voted in favor of a new rule requiring all new phones and smaller electronics that use a cable to charge to be equipped with a USB-C port, Apple has a few major decisions to make. While the new rule technically only applies to new products sold in Europe, it’s likely to affect Apple’s worldwide product line very soon. While Apple has already switched to USB-C on the Mac and most of its iPads, several products still use the proprietary Lightning port that was introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012, including the iPhone 14.
In his Power On Newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman speculates that many Apple devices could make the move in 2024, well before the EU’s proposed date of late 2024. Here are the products that could be dropping the Lightning port sooner than later:
Last updated: March 2022 (iPhone SE)/September 2022 (iPhone 14)
Next expected update: March 2024 (iPhone SE)/September 2023 (iPhone 15)
The iPhone 14 is likely the last flagship model with a Lightning port. While the next iPhone will come in well under the deadline imposed by the EU, Gurman says the move to USB-C for the iPhone 15 is “essentially a lock.” Not only will it bring universal charging with your MacBook and iPad, but USB-C also opens the door for faster data transfers, which will be a welcome new feature now that the iPhone 14 Pro can shoot 48MP ProRAW photos. The only exception could be the next iPhone SE, which might still retain the Lightning port for another generation.
Last updated: September 2021 (9th generation)
Next expected update: October 2022 (10th generation)
Rumors are swirling that Apple won’t even be waiting until 2023 to update its last remaining Lightning-based iPad to USB-C. The update to the entry level model will likely arrive in October, with a new rumored slimmer-bezel design and a larger display.
AirPods/AirPods Pro charging case
Last updated: March 2022 (3rd generation)/September 2022 (2nd generation)
Next expected update: 2024
While the AirPods and AirPods Pro cases picked up MagSafe charging last year, they still use Lightning to charge with a cable despite having ample room for a USB-C port on the bottom of the case. Apple only recently both AirPods models, so they’re unlikely to receive another major refresh until 2025, but it’s very possible Apple quietly launches a new case with USB-C for the existing models alongside the iPhone 15 or in early 2024, according to Gurman.
Last updated: December 2020 (1st generation)
Next expected update: 2024 (2nd generation)
When Apple introduced the AirPods Max in December 2020, they didn’t have a charging case. Instead, Apple included a Lightning cable on the side for charging (or wired listening via the optional Lightning to 3.5mm audio cable). It could be the first AirPods model to update to Lightning: If Apple updates the AirPods Max later this year or early next with an H2 chip for Adaptive Transparency, that Lightning port will almost certainly change to USB-C.
Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse
Last updated: March 2022 (new colors)
Next expected update: 2023
Apple hasn’t changed the design of its trio of Mac accessories in nearly a decade, but it does introduce new colors somewhat regularly. In 2021, all three accessories—Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse—got new colors to match the new 24-inch iMac, while the Magic Keyboard received a Touch ID sensor. Then earlier this year, Apple began offering black versions of the accessories alongside the Mac Studio and Studio Display. While we don’t expect Apple to surprise us with a Magic Mouse that charges properly (meaning you don’t have to flip it over to connect the charger), if Apple updates the iMac with an M3 processor next year as rumored, it will have to update the accessories with USB-C ports as well.
Last updated: September 2016 (1st generation)
Next expected update: Uncertain
Apple began bundling EarPods with a Lightning connector with iPhones back when it removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. These days you’ll have to buy them separately for $19 if you want a pair, but we assume they’ll be discontinued once Apple switches the iPhone to USB-C.
Last updated: June 2020 (new colors)
Next expected update: Uncertain
While most of Apple’s Beats products use USB-C or micro-USB for charging, there is one—the PowerBeats Pro—that still uses a Lightning-to-USB-C cable to charge. The next time Apple releases new colors or updates the PowerBeats Pro, that’s going to change.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.