Some say it’s too soon, others say it can’t happen soon enough. When Apple announces the iPhone 15 lineup tomorrow, a notable part of the news will be switching from a Lightning port to a USB-C port for charging. The iPhone certainly isn’t the first Apple product to adopt USB-C, and it won’t be the last.
Why is Apple changing the charging port now? In part, it’s because the company has to if it wants to continue selling iPhones in EU countries. But it’s also true that Apple has steadily been moving new products to USB-C for years.
It started in 2015 with the 12-inch Retina MacBook. The machine had a sharper display with a smaller footprint than the MacBook Air. It was also defined by its single port for wired I/O: a USB-C port.
A year later, USB-C started replacing USB-A with the redesigned MacBook Pro. Sure, it sparked a fire sale on dongles, but bringing back MagSafe is the only decision that’s changed since then.
Then the iPad Pro replaced Lightning with USB-C. The iPad Air followed. Apple still sells the 9th-gen iPad with Lightning, but it introduced the 10th-gen iPad with USB-C last fall.
Apple TV used USB-C as a service port before dropping the port. More recently, the remote that comes with the Apple TV was revised with one change: USB-C replacing Lightning.
Even iPhones have used USB-C for years. Apple changed the end of the charging cable that connects to the power adapter to USB-C several generations ago. Still using USB-A cables? You’ll be amazed at the charging speeds with USB-C bricks.
So the iPhone 15 is joining the USB-C future. So will AirPods Pro 2, reportedly, but there are a lot of things sold by Apple that still use Lightning. Take Apple’s other headphone options:
- AirPods 2
- AirPods 3
- AirPods Max
- Beats Powerbeats Pro
Then there are charging accessories like MagSafe Duo and the MagSafe Battery Pack. Apple also sells a few different third-party gaming controllers that use either connect via Lightning or charge with Lightning port.
Mac peripherals are another category. Will Apple replace Lightning with USB-C on the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad? Will there be an all-new Magic Mouse, complete with flip-it-over charging via USB-C? Let’s hope so.
Something Apple doesn’t sell? A USB-A to USB-C cable. Those are good for cars with USB-A ports. Perhaps we’ll see an Apple-branded or third-party version hit the store tomorrow.
The thing about every product that will still use a Lightning port tomorrow is that Apple doesn’t necessarily need to swap ports to USB-C. In some situations, the old products with Lightning will be replaced with new products that have more changes than just the charging port.
Still, Apple showed an appetite to make the move more comprehensive than not when it updated the Apple TV remote from Lightning to USB-C. Lightning was Apple’s far superior answer to microUSB for the longest time. For Lightning accessories that linger around, the benefit of using the same charging port as the iPhone goes away with the iPhone 15.
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