There has been much speculation that Apple will choose the iPhone 15 to make the change, a year before it becomes 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 with iPhone connectors, something that has proven to be a benefit in the past. Back when the industry standard was microUSB, a one-way connector and port that was almost universally hated for being difficult to insert, Apple had the much better bi-directional Lightning port.
However, the dreaded microUSB port has been replaced by USB-C, which is just as easy to use as a Lightning port. Apple was an early adopter of this port on MacBooks, and most of its iPads have switched from Lightning to USB-C. The Lightning connector on the iPhone is now something of an anomaly in the lineup. Many Apple owners would appreciate being able to use USB-C chargers and cables for all of their devices.
Apple will also be effectively forced to switch to USB-C for its 2024 iPhone lineup, as that’s the year that will become a legal requirement for all smartphones sold in the 27 EU countries. While it’s theoretically possible that Apple could switch to the USB-C port only on European iPhone models, this would be an unnecessary complication and it seems much more likely to make the switch worldwide.
iPhone 15 USB-C port
The legal requirement would take effect with the iPhone 16 in 2024, but there have been repeated reports that Apple plans to make the change a year earlier, on the iPhone 15.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in May that supply chain research pointed to Apple switching 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 earlier that the company would make the change.
However, the paper’s Mark Gurman goes further in his latest Switched on Newsletter.
Apple has been preparing for this law. I think the company will easily beat the expiration date with its more visible products. The iPhone 15 is essentially a lock on getting USB-C in the fall of 2023, beating the mandate by a year.
other possibilities remain
While the new law is clear, it has a couple of workarounds. Apple could technically meet the requirement to allow iPhones to charge over USB-C by including a USB-C to Lightning adapter in the package, but that doesn’t seem likely.
Some have also suggested that the Cupertino company could take the 2024 deadline as the time to move to a 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 probably be happy with wireless charging and data transfer, there are still professionals who use iPhone within their workflows and want the fastest possible charging and data transfers.
AirPods, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad
as we noticethe 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 selling all existing Lightning-powered models for as long as it wants. But as soon as it produces an updated model, the USB-C charging requirement kicks in. There’s no telling when Apple will choose to upgrade its Mac input devices, so these could move to USB-C at a later date.
To loan: iPhone Concepts
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