Apple is notorious for abruptly killing traditional ports and standards to push consumers into adopting the next big thing. Remember the floppy disk? The DVD drive? Firewire? The 30-pin dock connector? And of course, who can forget the headphone jack?
The loss of a universal standard can be jarring at first, but eventually, we adapt and move on. In this era of headphone jack-less and wireless charging iPhones, for example, most of us have “courageously” embraced wireless headphones and even learned to love that awkward Lightning-to-3.5 mm dongle.
But as soon as we have settled down and accepted that the headphone jack is never coming back to the iPhone, it looks like another beloved port is on the chopping block.
Get ready for a fresh set of adapters and dongles, as the Lightning cable may be saying its last goodbyes soon.
Is it time to say goodbye to the Lightning cable? A new report from ever-reliable Apple supply chain blog Macotakara claims that Apple may already be preparing to switch future iPhones to USB-C, similar to what it did with the 2018 iPad Pros.
Although the report just hints on the possibility of the switch, Macotakara cited supply chain sources who are “working on it.”
However, the report stated that Apple has not reached the reference stage yet with the redesign so it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see the USB-C switch in this year’s crop of iPhones (iPhone XI, iPhone XI Max, and iPhone XIR?), all of which will still retain the old Lightning port.
So all ye iPhone faithfuls, better hold on to your Lightning accessories, USB-C equipped iPhones may not arrive until 2020.
Benefits of USB-C
But before you pull out the pitchforks, transitioning to USB-C actually makes a ton of sense. It’s the next leap forward for the ubiquitous USB standard, and it’s quite refreshing to see Apple embracing the norm instead of pushing its own proprietary port.
In fact, aside from Apple’s own MacBooks and iPad Pros, Android smartphones have already been transitioning to USB Type-C for years now.
What are the advantages of USB-C over older standards?
Small and reversible – For one, it is smaller than the traditional USB port, and like Apple’s Lightning port, it is reversible. In fact, it’s only slightly larger than both Lightning and micro-USB connectors.
Faster – USB-C is also extremely fast. It can deliver up to a whopping 10 gigabits per second. That’s twice the speed of USB 3.0!
More power both ways – USB-C can deliver up to 100W of power, and not only does it charge faster, but it also supports bi-directional charging. This means you can charge your laptop with your phone and vice-versa, depending on what gadget needs the power.
One port to rule them all – Due to its greater speed and power, USB-C can handle various functions and modes. With the right kind of adapter, it can output ultra-HD video to multiple monitors, sound, data, power and more.
Drawback? New adapters and cables required
The biggest drawback with this change is physical compatibility. The traditional USB port has been gracing our computers and gadgets for about 20 years now. Although it has gone through several versions and improvements, one thing remains the same: the shape of the port.
Although the protocol is backward compatible with the older USB standards, USB-C has a different port shape so adapters will have to be purchased separately to connect older gadgets.
What does this mean for the iPhone?
Similar to what happened in 2012 with the switch from Apple’s old 30-pin dock connector to Lightning with the iPhone 5, or in 2016, when Apple ditched the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, early adopters will have to use adapters to keep using their old accessories.
But looking at the bright side, USB-C’s greater flexibility, power and speed will ultimately outweigh its temporary disadvantages.
Since Apple already replaced older USB ports and other connectors with USB-C in MacBooks and iPad Pros, USB-C on iPhones is the next logical step. This can lead to a standardization of all the ports for all future Apple gadgets. Yay, progress.
And with wireless charging already a standard feature in newer iPhones, a USB-C port can be freed to do other duties, like powering external peripherals and outputting video to displays. The possibilities are intriguing.
As with any other big leap forward, we’ll probably be thanking Apple later for the switch to USB-C.
Another big rumor – new iPod Touch coming this year?
Here’s another interesting rumor from the Macotakara report — Apple may be set to release the new 7th-generation iPod Touch this year.
The current 6th-generation iPod Touch has not been updated since 2015 but at $199, it’s still the cheapest Apple gadget that runs iOS 12.
An updated iPod Touch makes a lot a sense for Apple if it’s planning to push services to a wider user base.
With the Apple App Store, iTunes, Apple Music and the company’s upcoming video streaming service, a cheap entry point like the iPod Touch will certainly help expand its audience.
With iPhone sales starting to plateau, the profitability of Apple services will be critical and entry-level gadgets like the iPod Touch and the iPad will play big roles in this expansion.
We’re not expecting Face ID nor an OLED screen on the next version of the iPod Touch if it’s going to keep its $199 price point, but a larger LCD display, Touch ID, a faster processor and better cameras will be the likely improvements.