It’s pretty obvious Apple will continue to use USB-C for future devices, given pressure from European Union legislation requiring a mandatory USB-C standard for consumer electronics.
Apple’s entire MacBook lineup switched to USB-C starting in 2015. The new 10th generation iPad — the only iPad with a horizontal FaceTime camera — has a USB-C port. Even the Siri Remote in the third generation Apple TV 4K (2022) replaced the Lightning port with USB-C.
So it makes perfect sense that Lightning is nearing the end of its life after using Apple devices for 10 years. With the EU deadline set for the end of 2024, there are still a number of Apple products that need the USB-C refresh. This is everything Apple still sells that needs a Lightning port replacement.
All Apple devices that still need USB-C
iPhone 14 (and all iPhones)
Release date: September 2022
The last iPhone 14/14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro/14 Pro Max just came out in September and much to the disappointment of many people they still have a Lightning port. With the iPhone 14 Pros capable of shooting high-resolution 48-megapixel ProRAW photos and ProRES videos, Lightning’s USB 2.0 transfer speeds are no longer sufficient. Hopefully, USB-C is really coming to an iPhone soon.
AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Release date: September 2022
Arrived next to the iPhone 14s and the Apple Watch Series 8 / Ultrathe second generation AirPods Pro it was rumored to be getting USB-C in its charging case. That didn’t happen. The new case charges via MagSafe and supports magnetic charging with an Apple Watch puck, but that’s not the point.
AirPods (3rd generation)
Release date: October 2021
This one third generation AirPods on the shelves a year ago. All Apple has to do is replace the Lightning port with a USB-C port.
AirPods (2nd generation)
Release date: March 2019
The oldest (and cheapest) AirPods Apple still sells. It’s either time to remove these from the lineup or, like the third-generation AirPods, give the case USB-C.
Release date: December 2020
apples over-ear ANC headphones have yet to be updated since their release in December 2020. They are due for a refresh, which might as well come with USB-C.
iPad (9th generation)
Release date: September 2021
The 9th-generation iPad is the only iPad that Apple sells that hasn’t made the switch to USB-C. There’s a chance Apple will stop selling in the EU to comply with proposed USB-C legislation. But if it keeps this iPad in the lineup, it should just drop Lightning.
Apple Pencil (1st generation)
Release date: November 2015
The Apple Pencil dates back to a November 2015 release, but it’s relevant again as it’s the only Apple stylus compatible with the 10th-generation iPad. Of course you better buy USB-C equipped alternativesand the second-generation Apple Pencil charges magnetically with all other iPads, but if Apple wants to keep this old man around, he’d have to get a new plug.
Release date: March 2022
Apple released an updated version of the Magic Mouse in March 2022, but it still charges via Lightning. Worse, the charging port is on the bottom of the mouse, meaning you can’t use it while it’s plugged in.
Release date: May 2021
Last updated in May 2021, the wireless and wired versions of Apple’s keyboards could use an update with — you guessed it — USB-C.
Magic trackpad 2
Release date: October 2015
The latest Magic Trackpad 2 is available in black or white; there are also color-matched trackpads for M1 iMacs. And while the included cable has Lightning on one end and USB-C on the other, making it USB-C on both ends is a thing of the past.
Wireless future, USB-C present
As you can see, there aren’t many devices left for Apple to move to USB-C. The big one is the iPhone. And while Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, is right that switching to USB-C would create a lot of e-waste if consumers replaced their Lightning cables with USB-C cables, everyone wants the change, including the EU.
Replacing Lightning with USB-C isn’t just for the benefit of charging. The reversible port/plug is capable of much faster data transfer rates, especially when infused with Thunderbolt technology. Transferring large RAW photos or video files over USB-C would be a big selling point for future iPhone Pros.
The future is undoubtedly wireless — the controversial 1-port 12-inch MacBook and canceled AirPower were clear advances toward a wire-free world — but the future is unlikely to be ready anytime soon. The interim will likely be USB-C, so it’s time for Apple to get started with the program.