If you’re waiting for Apple to finally unveil an iPhone with a USB-C port, we have bad news: It’s not happening this year. But there’s still some serious intrigue in prospect for the iPhone’s lone port in the months ahead.
Let’s start with the iPhone 14. According to iDropNews, Apple is “working on [USB] 3.0 speeds for the iPhone 14 Pro connector.” The current Lightning port is rated for USB 2.0, which has an abysmally slow transfer rate of 480 Mbps. USB 3.0 offers a transfer rate of around 5Gbps or about 10 times faster than the current Lightning port. LeaksApplePro reports that the feature will likely be exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Apple actually used a faster Lightning port on the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro before it switched to USB-C in 2018. It required a special adapter to unlock the faster speeds, which were limited to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation) and 10.5-inch iPad Pro. When the iPad switched to USB-C it upped the transfer rate to 10Gbps and increased it further still with the M1 iPad Pro, which supports Thunderbolt speeds of 40Gbps.
While a faster Lightning port in the iPhone 14 would be yet another point of differentiation between the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, things could get even more interesting with the iPhone 15. Members of the European Parliament this week announced support for “a common charger for portable electronic devices” by an overwhelming vote of 43-2. The new rules, which are expected to become official in May, would require all phones, tablets, headphones, and headsets that support wired charging to have a USB Type-C port.
The rules would affect numerous devices, including the AirPods charging case, but none are bigger than the iPhone. If enacted, it’s possible that Apple would be forced to either switch to USB-C for the iPhone 15 or remove the port completely and rely entirely on MagSafe and wireless charging. While the rules would only apply to phones sold in the EU, it’s highly unlikely that Apple would sell iPhones with USB-C ports overseas and Lightning in the US.
Either change would be a major one for obvious reasons. The iPhone has had a Lightning port for the past 10 years, since the iPhone 5 in September 2012, so switching to USB-C would be a monumental change affecting countless accessories and cables. And if Apple were to remove the port entirely, it would raise questions about charging speeds and CarPlay, among other features.
So keep your eye on the iPhone’s boring charging port. Things are about to get very exciting.