Friday, January 21, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

How Apple Destroys Lightning

Rene Ritchie:

$1000 and the iPhone 13 Pro is still stuck at USB2 speeds. Never mind the $1100 iPhone 13 Pro Max. Why? Because, Lightning, and — wait for it — Lightning has pretty much been stuck at USB2’s half a gigabit per second, since… 2012. That, in spite of Apple adding 10-bit ProRes HDR video recording back in September. With hardware acceleration fast enough to encode 6GB a minute — a minute! — and a new storage system fast enough to save it, but no… no as in nothing approaching… a new I/O system fast enough to transfer it. So, you can now record the highest quality video of any phone on the planet, you just can’t get it off any faster than the cheapest phone on the block.

[…]

So, USB-C would solve for speed… but also for convenience. You wouldn’t have to keep a specific cable around just to charge your iPhone any more. You could charge it with the same cable as your iPad Air… your Nintendo Switch, your partner’s Google Pixel, whatever. Use that cable between devices as needed, maybe even keep only one to travel with. We’ll have achieved true port peace in our time.

Previously:

10 Comments

Jean-Daniel Dupas

That's why iPhone are now sync by Wifi.

iPhone 13 Pro supports Wifi 6 and multi gigabits speed, so why bother to use a cable and USB 2 ?

Simone Manganelli

Ritchie’s article is the most convoluted post I’ve seen in a while. While there isn’t really much to clear up, the article doesn’t really help. It could’ve been said in a few tweets without all the incomprehensible garbage. This excerpt just doesn’t even make sense: “Why? Because, Lightning, and — wait for it — Lightning has pretty much been stuck…”

TLDR: who knows what Apple will do, but USB-C would certainly be the most convenient step forward. The only two problems that really need solving are 1) the proprietary port and 2) speed, and USB-C would solve both.

Not sure why Ritchie had to barf all over the page to explain that.

Not even close.

Wifi sync under ideal circumstances is slower than USB2. The iPhone 13 only supports a maximum of 80Mhz channels on 802.11ax. Same for the most current Macbook Pro M1 Pro/Max machines.

Testing of Wifi 6, with 2/MIMO clients, on a 160Mhz channel, against a 4/4MIMO router, in close proximity, maxes out between 500 and 900 Mbps, depending on the router. That's the ideal, on a client with twice the channel bandwidth of an iPhone 13.

Move away from the router, and that drops quickly, so that at 30 feet, with line of sight, you are already slower than USB2, even on a 160Mhz channel.

Sébastien LeBlanc

Lightning already support USB 3.0 ! Apple just never bothered to ship the feature on iPhone but they did on iPad pre USB-C: https://www.theverge.com/2015/11/13/9732454/apple-ipad-pro-usb-3-0-lightning-connector

Warm up piece for next year's lightning 2 reveal.

Not about lightning cables, but I find it weird he tosses out the line that the EU's GDPR is a "regulatory cock-up." Did I miss something, here? My understanding is that those rules about how personal data can be used is generally a good thing. Maybe it doesn't go far enough. Does he just not like consent screens?

That’s why iPhone are now sync by Wifi.

iPhone 13 Pro supports Wifi 6 and multi gigabits speed, so why bother to use a cable and USB 2 ?

Wi-Fi 6 does up to 9.6 Gbit/s under ideal conditions, but let’s be honest, you’ll rarely if ever reach those. And most households won’t have it on all devices.

By comparison, USB 2.0 does 480 Mbit/s, and USB 3.0 5 Gbit/s. USB 3.2 goes up to 20 Gbit/s, and Thunderbolt, of course, does 40. In practice, Wi-Fi 6 is actually a lot closer to USB 2.0, or even below that. USB 3.0, despite the purportedly lower spec, actually almost invariably blows it out of the water.

Yes, you may be right that Apple’s answer here is that wireless is good enough, and I think that’s… fine, on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.

But it’s not a great answer for a high-end device. The 13 Pro Max is either a “pro max” phone with camera features that could really take advantage of a lot of bandwidth, or it’s a device for which wireless is plenty. Apple can only pick one. If it’s the latter, Rene is right that this really hurts the sales pitch of its $1100 price point. (Never mind that, at that price point, you don’t even get full ProRes support because the flash storage is too slow. So, another $100.)

Ritchie’s article is the most convoluted post I’ve seen in a while.

It also has a less than great headline.

Lightning already support USB 3.0 ! Apple just never bothered to ship the feature on iPhone but they did on iPad pre USB-C

I wonder if there is a technical reason here. Would actually supporting USB 3.0 transfer speeds generate too much heat, maybe?

Not about lightning cables, but I find it weird he tosses out the line that the EU’s GDPR is a “regulatory cock-up.” Did I miss something, here?

I don’t think you missed anything; it’s just a bad take (IMHO; perhaps he’s just generally on the libertarian side).

MagSafe with pins and whatever data transfer protocol and power transfer handshake suits. So Apple can have a unique connector. And cable adapters. We can dispose of the inherent power losses of inductive charging. Which requires near perfect alignment anyway. Lose the added weight of inductive coils. iPhones weight is becoming ridiculous. And finally improve water resistance in one go.

To make matters worse, Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.2 / 4 sync is entirely broken between the M1 Macs and the M1 iPad Pro. It will not connect.

The ONLY way, other than Wifi, is to sync them is via USB2 using the charging cable that comes with the iPad, and that limits you to USB2 speeds. This is true even as of macOS 12.2 and iPadOS 15.3.

And as I pointed out above, there is no circumstance where Wifi 6 is faster than USB2. The 9.6Gbps speed is not possible on any Apple device, because Apple'w Wifi 6 implementation is limited to 80Mhz channels, and 2/MIMO.

Additional benefit of Lightning 2 with MagSafe would be knowing specs without having to look up which mode of USB or TB a USB-C system would be compatible with. Also Lightning offered a symmetrical connector long before USB-C became mainstream. With MagSafe would improve the experience again.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment