Three ways Apple’s iPhones could change thanks to new Lightning port rules
Future iPhones may see a significant alteration, and it isn’t one that Apple desires. The European Union has revealed plans to require smartphone manufacturers to include a USB-C connector on their devices, ensuring that all phone users have access to a universal smartphone charger.
These proposals aren’t set in stone, so they might be scrapped at any time. Apple and other firms currently have 24 months to implement the changes, so the iPhone 14 won’t be affected, but the iPhone 15 will.
We’re focusing on Apple since practically every other smartphone maker uses USB-C, as do many other cameras, tablet, and handheld console manufacturers. All of which are affected by the proposal.
Apple, which is using the Lightning port since 2012, is understandably displeased with the change, stating in a statement to TechRadar that it “remains concerned that strict regulation mandating only one type of connector stifles rather than encourages innovation, which will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.”
Having a single charging type for all portable devices, however, has obvious advantages. One cable can charge everything, and there’s a lower likelihood that charging ports on future models changed, rendering your old cords obsolete (albeit USB-C isn’t going away anytime soon).
Regardless of which side you support, the decision will most likely be out of your – and Apple’s – control. That isn’t to say Apple won’t have other options if this plan goes through. The iPhone could change in three ways as a result of these new rules, as detailed below.
1. Apple may move to USB-C.
This is the most noticeable alteration. If the European Union mandates that the iPhone charging port be USB-C, Apple will be forced to make the changeover, whether it wants to or not. And since Apple has already made the conversion to USB-C on many of its iPad models, making the same switch on its phones shouldn’t be too difficult.
Given that the EU can only influence how things are doing in its member countries, it’s possible that Apple may release two distinct iPhones in the future: one with a USB-C connector for the EU and one with Lightning for the rest of the world. However, this is likely to raise its production costs, and we believe that if it has to switch for certain regions, it will most likely switch for all.
2. It’s possible that the iPhone will become portless.
One approach to get around the need for a USB-C port is to eliminate the charging port entirely. We’ve heard rumors that future iPhones may have a portless design, so it’s possible that Apple is working on it already.
What’s the deal with that? It would need to use wireless charging, which the iPhone already does, and which, with MagSafe on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, is probably superior to wireless charging on most other phones because it makes it easier to align the chargers.
Apple’s wireless charging isn’t especially quick right now, either when compared to competing smartphones or when compared to cable charging speeds, so that’s something the firm should improve if it does want to go portless. Professionals would also need a comfortable mechanism to transfer big amounts of data and files without having to plug in the phone, and there is currently no viable alternative to wires for this.
3. Two ports could be available on the iPhone.
Another possibility is that future iPhones will include both a USB-C and a Lightning port.
According to the Associated Press, Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, has specifically stated as much, adding, “If Apple wants to continue to have their own plug, they will have the ability to do it.” It’s not against innovation; it’s just to make our fellow citizens’ life a little bit easier,” he said, implying that Apple and others could still have two ports on their phones if they wanted to.
You may consider this the best of all worlds, as it allows individuals to utilize whichever port they like. However, the amount of space and money required to do so would likely make it an unappealing option, thus we believe this is the least likely path Apple will choose.