I’ve been waiting years to write this. Apple has killed the Lightning cable on the iPhone, and the iPhone 15 will be the first in the series to be powered by USB-C.
At long last, after 11 years of use on the iPhone, having replaced Apple’s original 30-pin mobile connector back in 2012, Lightning is no longer the charging port on the iPhone. Instead, largely because of mounting standardisation efforts around the world, Apple has switched to the commonly used USB-C port, which you can find on pretty much every modern smartphone, bar iPhones up until this point.
There don’t appear to be any caveats to this. Previously, we reported that Apple could throttle some features (like charging speed and data transfer) for USB-C cables that didn’t have Apple-authorised certification. The European Union gave Apple a stern warning against this, and today, at Apple’s event, the company appears to have taken the warning seriously, celebrating USB-C for its standardisation in the tech world.
“USB-C has become a universally accepted standard, so we’re bringing USB-C to iPhone 15. It enables charging, transferring data, playing audio and video, and it’s been built into Apple products for years. Now, the same cable can charge Mac, iPad, iPhone, and even AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, which is updated with a USB-C connector,” Apple vice president of marketing Kaiann Drance said.
“We’re also bringing USB-C to Earpods, so they can work with iPhone 15 seamlessly.”
Looking at the iPhone 15 Pro’s specs (the A17 Bionic chip), it looks like the maximum wired data transfer speeds of the Pro, enabled by the USB controller, will be capped at 10Gbps, which is the highest speed USB-C 3 is capable of. This is 4x lower than the maximum data transfer speeds of Thunderbolt, which the iPhone 15 was rumoured to include, but it now appears that the phones will be skipping Thunderbolt… For now.
However, as pointed out by PC Gamer, it looks like the maximum data transfer speed will actually be limited to 480Mbps on the standard iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, or USB 2.0 speeds. Woof.
While I’m definitely celebrating the end of Lightning on the iPhone, and the phasing out of Lightning across Apple’s product lineup (which began long ago with the iPad and Apple TV remote), let’s not lose sight of how impressive the connector was at the time when it was introduced. When it debuted with the iPhone 5 in 2012, it was faster for data transfer and charging than both Micro and Mini USB, which were the most common connectors for Android phones at the time. In 2016, when Samsung began to use USB-C on some devices (the same year the Google Pixel debuted, with the USB-C connector), Lightning’s max speeds were beaten. Now, several generations in, USB-C is the king across multiple devices. It’ll likely soon be able to charge gaming laptops.
RIP Lightning. You weren’t followed by Thunder, which would have been a brilliant headline.
At its 2023 iPhone event, Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, USB-C for the AirPods Pro 2, Roadside Assistance via Satellite, and a bunch of environmental promises. This article has been updated since it was first published.
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