Monday, March 6, 2017

Lightning or USB-C on the New iPhones?

Takashi Mochizuki:

People familiar with Apple’s plans said the iPhone releases this year would include two models with the traditional LCD and a third one with an OLED screen.

They said Apple would introduce other updates including a USB-C port for the power cord and other peripheral devices, instead of the company’s original Lightning connector.

John Gruber:

My expectation has been that iPhones will never switch to USB-C — that Apple would stick with Lightning until they can do away with external ports entirely.

I have no inside dope on this, but it rings false to my ears. If there’s any truth to it, I’d bet that this year’s iPhones will ship with USB-C chargers, that use a USB-C to Lightning cable to connect to the phones. That makes sense, given that Apple has dropped USB-A ports from the newest MacBook models.

Joe Rossignol (via John Gruber):

All three iPhones rumored to be launched in 2017 will retain Lightning connectors with the addition of USB-C Power Delivery for faster charging, including an all-new OLED model with a larger L-shaped battery and updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

My initial expectations matched Gruber’s. I didn’t think Apple would drop Lightning. That said, I think there’s a pretty good case to be made that they should. That would take some courage because people don’t like change. But I don’t think it would be that hard of a sell. Lightning was the right choice when Apple adopted it because it was better than the alternatives that existed at that time. But now we have USB-C, which is an emerging standard and offers many of the same benefits, plus some of its own—though also some confusion.

Imagine that Lightning didn’t exist today. Would there be a compelling reason for Apple to invent it? USB-C looks like it will become a widespread standard. If Apple doesn’t switch, it had better have a good explanation for why it’s inconveniencing its customers with a proprietary connector.

And if it’s going to switch, why not do it now? Why ship a few hundred million more devices with Lightning when you know USB-C is the future? It’s better to be a little early than a little late on these transitions.

Update (2017-03-09): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2019-01-15): Juli Clover:

Mac Otakara’s report also suggests that the next-generation iPhone coming in 2019 could potentially include a USB-C port. According to “those who are working on it,” though, it has not reached a design reference step and whether or not the new iPhones will use USB-C over Lightning is not yet fully established.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Um, I'll bite.

Apple don't seem to want to stop until iPhones are thin enough to snap with two fingers, and they've used "we can't make those bigs sockets fit" excuses before.

The USB-C sockets on my MacBook are a damn sight bigger than the lightning socket on my iPhone.

What kind of USB-C connectors do you guys have that are THINNER than lightning connectors?


"Lightning was the right choice when Apple adopted it because it was better than the alternatives that existed at that time."

It still is. Did you tried to plug an USB C and a Lightning ? To plug an USB C, you have to make sure the plug is perfectly alligned and it fill very fragile.
One the other hand, I can perfectly plug a lightning cable without even having to watch what I'm doing and I don't fear to break something.

[…] previously thought that maybe Apple should replace Lightning on iPhones with USB-C. Now I’m not so sure. […]

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