Releasing an iPhone with a USB-C port once seemed impossible, but the latest rumors say it's actually coming sooner than you think. Due to regulatory fluctuations and Lightning connector limitations, the first iPhone with USB-C could be released as early as 2023. Below you will find the latest information on what we know so far.
There are a number of reasons why Apple changed its mind about the release of the USB-C iPhone. However, one thing is hard to lose sight of: looming legislation around the world.
After years of disagreement, the European Union has officially reached an agreement on a “common charging port”; standard. Starting in 2024, all smartphones sold in the 27 EU countries will be required to use USB-C for charging. This includes the iPhone and even peripheral accessories such as AirPods.
Just weeks after the EU agreed on its legislation, lawmakers in the United States have expressed their support. Many have urged the US to adopt something similar. Senator Elizabeth Warren echoed the call today in a tweet on Twitter, stating:
Consumers should not keep buying new chargers for different devices. . We can clear things up with common standards – with less cost, less hassle and less loss.
In early October, EU legislation was formally adopted following a full vote by the European Parliament. The law was passed by an overwhelming majority of 602 votes to 13, with 8 abstentions. There are legal exceptions for products that are too small with a USB-C port.
The law then has to be approved by the European Council and then published in the Official Journal of the EU. Any products that went on sale before then will be exempt from this requirement, but it is expected to take effect before the launch of the iPhone 16 in 2024.
Apple has opposed legislation that would make USB-C iPhones mandatory. The company claims that such laws stifle innovation and actually lead to more environmental waste.
Will Apple launch an iPhone with USB-C?
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first predicted in 2019 that Apple would release an iPhone without a port as early as 2021, but that didn't come true. It's easy to see why wireless technology simply isn't reliable or powerful enough to completely replace connectors like Lightning or USB-C. Charging speeds aren't as fast, data transfers are slow and unreliable, and consumer acceptance has yet to come.
The unported iPhone is still in development and undergoing internal testing at Apple, but we don't expect it to be released to the public this year or next.
The Lightning connector is also starting to age. When it was first introduced in 2012 with the iPhone 5, Apple's Phil Schiller stated that it would be “the next decade's state-of-the-art connector”. It's been ten years since this announcement, and it's clear that Lightning is lagging behind USB-C in things like charging and data transfer speeds.
There are rumors that Apple will improve Lightning to USB transfer speeds 3.0 starting with the iPhone 14 Pro this fall, but USB-C is still leading the way.
So that brings us to where we are today. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in May that the iPhone 15 coming in 2023 will feature a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. The report was eventually confirmed by Bloomberg, which also suggested that the iPhone 15 could switch to a USB-C port next year.
An iPhone with USB-C is sure to appeal to many consumers, especially those who already have an iPad or Mac that also uses USB-C. That being said, given the huge number of iPhone users, Apple will no doubt face criticism for changing the iPhone's charging port, even if switching to USB-C ends up being the right decision.