A USB-C iPhone may have once seemed impossible, but the latest rumors suggest it’s actually coming sooner than you think. Amid regulatory pushback and Lightning connector limitations, the first USB-C iPhone could be released as early as 2023. Head below for the latest details on what we know so far.
There are a number of reasons why Apple seems to have changed its tone on releasing a USB-C iPhone. One thing that’s hard to ignore, however, is impending legislation around the world.
After several years of back and forth, the European Union has officially reached an agreement on a “common charging port” standard. From 2024, all smartphones sold in the 27 EU countries will have to use USB-C for charging. This includes iPhone and even peripheral accessories like AirPods.
Just weeks after the EU approved its legislation, US lawmakers expressed their support. Many have called for the United States to adopt something similar. Senator Elizabeth Warren reiterated that call in a post on Twitter today saying:
Consumers shouldn’t have to constantly buy new chargers for different devices. We can make things clearer with uniform standards, for less expense, less hassle and less waste.
In early October, the EU legislation was officially adopted following a full vote by the European Parliament. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority, with 602 votes for, 13 against and 8 abstentions. Under the law, there are exemptions for products that are too small and offer a USB-C port.
The legislation will then have to be approved by the European Council and then published in the Official Journal of the EU. All products released before then will be exempt from this requirement, but it is expected to come into effect before the iPhone 16 launches in 2024.
Apple has pushed back on legislation that would mandate a USB-C iPhone. The company says such laws stifle innovation and actually lead to more environmental waste.
Will Apple release a USB-C iPhone?
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first predicted in 2019 that Apple would launch a portless iPhone as early as 2021, but that didn’t materialize. It’s easy to see why – wireless technologies just aren’t reliable or powerful enough to completely replace a connector like Lightning or USB-C. Charging speeds aren’t as fast, data transfer is slow and unreliable, and consumer adoption just isn’t there yet.
A portless iPhone is still in the works and is currently being tested internally at Apple, but we don’t expect to see it launch to the public this year or next.
The Lightning connector is also starting to show its age. When it was first unveiled in 2012 with the iPhone 5, Apple’s Phil Schiller touted it would be the “modern connector for the next decade”. It’s been a decade since that announcement, and it’s clear that Lightning is falling behind USB-C in areas like charging speeds and data transfer speeds.
Apple is rumored to increase Lightning to USB 3.0 data transfer rates starting with the iPhone 14 Pro this fall, but USB-C is still in the lead.
This brings us to where we are today. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in May that the iPhone 15, coming in 2023, will feature a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. This report was eventually corroborated by Bloombergwho also said that the iPhone 15 could move to a USB-C port next year.
A USB-C iPhone is sure to delight many consumers, especially those who already own an iPad or Mac that also uses USB-C. That being said, with the large number of iPhone users, Apple will undoubtedly be criticized for changing the iPhone’s charging connector, even if switching to USB-C is ultimately the right decision.
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