Apple has always tried to forge its own path and develop many of the technologies it incorporates into its products, but that sometimes means ignoring existing standards. The company adopted its custom Lightning connector on mobile devices in 2012, and the industry has come a long way since then. While Apple has moved to USB Type-C on some devices, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple won’t do that with the iPhone. Instead, it will just remove the port altogether.
Lightning was a major step forward for Apple back in 2012. It replaced the ancient 30-pin dock connector, which was huge, ugly, and charged slowly. Lightning supported faster charging, and it was fully reversible. It’s getting to be time for another change, though. Lightning is getting long in the tooth now, and USB-C has it beat in every way. That connector is more durable, supports extremely high charging speeds, and it’s a universal standard.
Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple will drop Lightning in 2021, and he doesn’t rule out some mobile devices moving to USB-C. However, the “high-end” iPhones will allegedly become entirely wireless. That means you’d have to use a wireless charger all the time. That’s already an option on Apple’s phones, but does it make sense for wireless to be the only option?
This all sounds a bit crazy when you first hear it, but many people thought the same thing a few years ago when analysts speculated that Apple could drop Touch ID or the headphone jack. However, those moves worked because there were ways to provide the same functionality with limited compromises. AirPods (and other Bluetooth devices) are a good alternative to the headphone jack, and Face ID has ably replaced Touch ID.
So, this may be something Apple would consider, but even Apple will find it a challenge to get users to accept wireless-only charging. For one, it’s harder to use the phone while it’s charging wirelessly. Wireless charging is slow, too. Apple’s implementation of the Qi standard currently tops out at 7.5W, slower than the 10W you get with the stock charging cable. Even if Apple devised a custom wireless charging standard, it couldn’t match the ever-higher USB-C charging speeds offered on other devices.
Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the fully wireless iPhone would improve sales, but that seems like something of a stretch. Killing the charging port will be a harder sell than doing away with the headphone jack.
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