It’s time for Apple’s lightning port to die. You know it, I know it, and Apple knows it.
Nobody likes change, even though change is a fundamental, almost DNA-level part of technology and innovation. However, a decade after Apple unveiled the lighting port and associated cables with the iPhone 5, we’re ready for a more universally accepted port and plug.
The lightning gate is now ten years old and its introduction on September 12, 2012 was received with similar care. You see, the tiny 8-pin connector supplanted Apple’s much wider (and widely used) 30-pin connector that predated the iPhone’s introduction.
An entire industry has been built around that connector. If you had an iPod of any generation up to the iPod touch 5th generation, you probably also had a dock, possibly from Griffin (opens in new tab), which is connected to large speakers. It wasn’t uncommon to walk into someone’s house and plug your iPod or iPhone into their speaker dock to fill a party with the prog-rock sounds of your personal playlist.
End of another port era
The news of the discontinuation of the 30-pin connector by Apple was received with alarm. We all had multiple 30-pin charging cables and accessories.
When the iPhone 5 hit the market in 2012, Apple did its best to allay those concerns by offering a free 30-pin connector-to-lightport plug adapter. I have a few more in my drawer.
Accessories manufacturers were a little less panicked than users. They still sold speakers, docks, third-party charging cables, and adapters to millions of older iPhone, iPad, and iPod owners.
Perhaps more foresighted than others. Logitech told WiredUK (opens in new tab) at the time, “You can still find retail Logitech speaker dock products that work with older Apple devices, but we’re gearing up for a wireless Christmas.” In other words, Logitech foresaw the meteoric rise of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled audio. Wireless charging was still not a thing though.
A necessary change
Apple’s rationale for dropping the 30-pin connector was clear then. First, a plug with no moving parts would be cheaper and easier to manufacture. The company also made more powerful devices and had to reduce the number of charging and connectivity-related components to make room for, say, larger batteries and other more useful components (better and more powerful A-series chips, more sensitive and advanced haptics, and much more powerful, larger screens). with high resolution). Maybe Apple just wanted to make room for NFC contactless technology.
However, if and when Apple kills the lightning port, the reasons won’t revolve entirely around technological considerations.
As I write this, the European Union is pressuring Apple to stop using its proprietary charging system, which requires the patented lighting cable. This is not because the EU prefers USB-C, but because it could lead to a reduction in e-waste. While the EU measure is not binding and Apple has “expressed its concerns”, I suspect Apple will be in compliance within one or two iPhone update cycles. Rumors now point to a USB-C port not on the iPhone 14, but perhaps for the iPhone 15.
I think it’s possible that Apple could surprise us and introduce the USB-C port on one iPhone 14 model, perhaps the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Whatever Apple does, our world will not collapse around us because Apple has discontinued the lighting port.
we will survive
First of all, we survived when Apple disabled the 30-pin connector. I remember before, during, and immediately after the iPhone 5’s launch, there was something close to panic, but it quickly subsided. We had our old cables if we still wanted to use them with old devices, but our new ones came with new cables (and adapters – those were the days). In addition, the iPhone 5 sold out within days (opens in new tab) from launch. I think we all decided then that we could live with the change.
In a short space of time, we had as many redundant lighting cables as we ever had with 30-pin connectors. We soon discovered that while these cables were lighter and easier to carry, they were no less subject to wear than previous cables. Have you ever seen a “tortoise neck” lighting port cable (opens in new tab)† You know, when the cable jacket starts to break down and build up right before the business end of the cable? Or maybe you’ve seen the collar that rips right behind the 8-pin plug.
Right, these plugs are not precious things to cherish and protect.
The lighting cable and port (oh yes, the port that is often so full of dust and debris that you can’t charge your phone without digging out the mud first) have had their day.
What Logitech predicted back in 2012 has become the wireless future, not just for audio, backup and data transfer. Current (iPhone 13) and future iPhones will be charged wirelessly, MagSafe style. Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether future iPhones will even need a port. Apple is clearly asking that question already.
When Apple introduces its first USB-C iPhone, followed by the iPad, you should welcome the change. Not only will the port bring new fast charging capabilities, but you’ll find that the cables you have for some of the other gadgets produced over the past five years will now work with your new iPhone.
This is a win, so get over it.