An iPhone 15 USB-C port, in place of a Lightning one, is “essentially a lock,” says Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter.
It has been widely speculated that Apple will choose the iPhone 15 to make the switch, a year ahead of it becoming mandatory for all smartphones sold within the European Union, but Gurman’s statement is the strongest we’ve seen to date …
Apple has always gone its own way on iPhone connectors, something which has proven a benefit in the past. When the industry standard was microUSB – a unidirectional plug and port which was almost universally hated for being awkward to insert – Apple had the vastly better bidirectional Lightning port.
However, the dreaded microUSB port has been superseded by USB-C, which is as easy to use as a Lightning port. Apple was an early adopter of this port in MacBooks, and most of its iPads have swapped out Lightning for USB-C. The Lightning connector in the iPhone is now something of an anomaly in the lineup. Many Apple owners would welcome being able to use USB-C chargers and cables for all their devices.
Apple will also be effectively forced to make the switch to USB-C for its 2024 iPhone lineup, as that’s the year in which it will become a legal requirement for all smartphones sold within the 27 countries of the EU. While it’s theoretically possible that Apple could switch to the USB-C port only on European model iPhones, this would be an unnecessary complication, and it seems far likelier that it will make the change worldwide.
iPhone 15 USB-C port
The legal requirement would kick in with the iPhone 16 in 2024, but there have been repeated reports that Apple plans to make the switch a year earlier, in the iPhone 15.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said back in May that supply-chain research pointed to Apple making the switch from Lightning to USB-C in the second half of 2023. Bloomberg reported the same month that Apple was internally testing an iPhone design with a USB-C port, but said only that 2023 would be the earliest that the company would make the change.
However, the paper’s Mark Gurman goes further than this in his latest Power On newsletter.
Apple has been preparing for this law. I think the company will even handily beat the due date with its most visible products. The iPhone 15 is essentially a lock to get USB-C in the fall of 2023, beating the mandate by a year.
Other possibilities do remain
While the new law is clear, it does have a couple of workarounds. Apple could technically meet the requirement to allow iPhones to be charged via USB-C by including a USB-C-to-Lightning adapter in the pack – but that doesn’t seem likely.
Some have also suggested that the Cupertino company might take the 2024 deadline as the time to jump to a fully portless iPhone, which can only be charged wirelessly. This would again comply with the law, as it only applies to devices that support wired charging. But while most consumers would likely be happy with wireless charging and data transfer, there are still professionals who use the iPhone within their workflows, and who want the fastest-possible data transfers and charging.
AirPods, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad
As we noted, the requirement also applies to a wide range of other products, which – for Apple – would mean switching to USB-C charging for AirPods, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad.
Gurman emphasizes that the law applies only to new devices, so Apple is free to continue to sell all existing Lightning-powered models for as long as it wishes. But as soon as it produces an updated model, the USB-C charging requirement kicks in. There’s no knowing when Apple would choose to update its Mac input devices, so these could well transition to USB-C at a later date.
Render: Concepts iPhone
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.