A new rumor out of Apple’s supply chain suggests that the company could ditch its iPhone Lightning ports in favor of USB-C in 2019.
To be clear, the report probably isn’t talking about this year’s rumored switch to Lightning to USB-C. Rather, insider sources told DigiTimes that Apple is considering switching the actual physical port on iPhones to the USB-C standard next year.
It’s too soon to confirm whether this rumor is actually credible — but is it even a good idea?
- Fewer dongles. Let’s face it, adapters and dongles are a pain. It’s hard to argue against any move that would allow consumers to carry fewer of them.
- Compatibility with Macs. Apple has already moved its Mac and MacBook lineup to ports leveraging the USB-C standard. Allowing iPhones and iPads to more easily interface with Apple computers is a logical next step.
- More Accessories. USB-type ports are pretty ubiquitous, from Micro USB to USB Type-A. That’s likely the future of USB-C, too. So switching over at this point in time would allow iPhone users a plethora of choice when it came to USB-C accessories.
- Versatility. A USB-C to USB-C cable is literally double-ended. That would allow it to connect devices to a charger, but would also them to connect to each other.
- Potential iPad Pro Upgrade. The MacBook and MacBook Pro lineups already use USB-C ports. Switching iPad Pro devices over could mean that they’d be able to use accessories made for Macs. In turn, they’d be better-suited to become full-fledged computer replacements.
- Universal compatibility. If the world — including iPhones — ran on USB-C, we would carry fewer cables. We could also take advantage of the future ubiquity of USB-C ports and cables to charge our iPhones, no matter where we are.
As far as the downsides to switching to USB-C, there doesn’t seem to be many — at least, in the long-term. The short-term is a different story.
The fact is that Apple has already gone all-in on the Lightning port across its device lineup. Many third-party accessory makers also use the Lightning standard for docks and other devices.
Inevitably, that would render these accessories useless without the use of yet another dongle or adapter. It would take time for Apple owners to switch their entire ecosystem over to USB-C.
Many great accessories take advantage of the Lightning port, like the iKlips Duo+ featured above.
Like with any standards update, this is obviously an inconvenient process — akin to the switch from the 30-pin adapter to the Lightning port.
But those of us who had 30-pin devices survived the switch unscathed. We’d survive the switch to USB-C, too.
Normally, we’d file this rumor under the “fairly sketchy” category.
Apple is typically committed to, for lack of a better phrase, doing its own thing. In past years, the Cupertino tech giant has prioritized its own first-party technology over the benefits of universal compatibility.
But that has changed in recent years, at least slightly.
The fact that Apple went with the cross-platform, cross-device Qi standard for its 2017 iPhones suggests that the company may be doing away with its previous strategies. The use of standard Qi instead of a first-party solution (or a modified version of it like the Apple Watch), is inherently a good thing.
It means that consumers will need to carry fewer dongles; it gives consumers more choice as far as accessories; and, it will let Apple device owners use public USB-C infrastructure — or easily borrow chargers from their Android-using friends.
Whether it’s likely is one question that’s up in the air. But whether it should is much more easily answerable: Yes, yes it should.