Report: Apple is testing USB-C iPhone models for 2023

Enlarge / The 2021 iPhone 13 still uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port.

Apple is testing iPhones that use the industry standard USB-C port, according to a Bloomberg report citing people with knowledge of the situation.

Since 2012, Apple smartphones have used the company’s proprietary Lightning connector. But more recently, the slightly larger USB-C port has come to dominate consumer electronics, including most of Apple’s other products. Consumers, critics, and even government regulators have called on Apple to ditch Lightning in favor of USB-C in recent years.

This landed Apple in a difficult spot, with three possible paths, each with significant downsides.

For one, the company could stick with Lightning, which would mean customers who’ve been using the iPhone for a while wouldn’t have to buy new adapters, wires, or chargers. Apple’s ecosystem of accessory makers wouldn’t have to go back to the drawing board to release updated products for the new connection.

On the other hand, Apple could switch to USB-C, making the iPhone more fun to play with other gadgets, including the Mac. But the move could sow confusion among consumers and chaos among accessory makers. It would also loosen Apple’s control over the user experience.

The third option would be to go all-wireless, but wireless connections typically don’t transmit power or data as quickly or efficiently.

According to Bloomberg sources, Apple is actively testing the second option, switching to USB-C, largely because the European Union appears to be moving forward with a law that would require companies that make “cellphones , tablets, digital cameras, headphones and earphones, portable video game consoles and portable speakers” to standardize around USB-C.

The new law isn’t final yet, but its prospects are good so far, and it would force Apple’s hand here. Sources are unsure whether Apple will go ahead with its plan to switch to USB-C if the law were to eventually fall.

That said, the USB-C models Apple is currently testing aren’t aiming for a 2022 release – this year’s iPhones will still use Lightning. But the change could happen as early as 2023, according to the report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.