Yes, Your Next iPhone Will Probably Get a USB-C Port, Too

The European Union has ruled: if Apple wants to sell new ones iPhones in the region, those devices must: have a USB-C port by the end of 2024.

That means Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which has been around for more than a decade and has established itself as a significant moneymaker for the tech giant, will have to be phased out from future iPhones. At least, those going to the EU.

“We don’t have a choice — as we do all over the world, [Apple will] comply with local laws,” Greg JoswiakApple’s senior vice president of global marketing told a Wall Street Journal Technology Conference on October 25, when asked whether Apple will comply with the common EU tax law.

“We think it would have been better for the environment and for our customers if the government wasn’t so prescriptive.”

While the legislation technically only applies to consumer electronics sold within the EU, Apple could be forced to decide the fate of the Lightning port for iPhones going abroad. Most commercial phones charge and connect to accessories via the USB-C standard, but iPhones don’t. Could this mean that future iPhones sold outside the EU will also transition to a USB-C charging port? Or will Apple adjust the hardware by geography, producing two iPhone variants for USB-C and Lightning – one for the EU and the other for the rest of the world?

Apple already modifies iPhone models regionally, as it did with the iPhone 14. The US version only has a electronic sim card, while other variants keep the SIM slot, as Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart points out. But he also thinks Apple has good reasons to move all iPhones to USB-C in the future.

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“…There are bigger ecosystem, security and accessories considerations with the power/data connector, so I think it’s more likely Apple will move all iPhones [globally] to USB-C in the time frame of the iPhone 16 to comply with European regulations.”

Most commercially available smartphones have a USB-C port, but the iPhone does not. It uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port connector.


For more than a decade, European lawmakers have been pushing for electronic devices to include a standardized charger to reduce the clutter of cables and e-waste. The legislation, part of the amended Radio Equipment Directive, was finalized in June before the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the rule in October. Its adoption is widely seen as a win for consumers, who will soon be able to use just a single USB-C charger for a range of accessories and devices, including higher wattage devices such as gaming laptops and 4K monitors. Its adoption was also seen as an environmental victory. A European think tank darling chargers bring up to 13,000 tons of e-waste per year in the EU and have associated life cycle emissions of about 600 to 900 kilotons in carbon dioxide equivalents.

Apple has lobbied vociferously against the idea of ​​a common phone charger. The tech giant claims that such legislation could stifle innovation and exacerbate the e-waste problem, as it would presumably render the Lightning cable obsolete for potentially a billion people worldwide. Apple, which collects fees from third-party manufacturing companies made for iPhone accessories, could potentially lose out on the revenue generated from any Lightning cable and accessory compatible with the iPhone.

Despite Apple’s pushback, the tech giant Reportedly putting a USB-C iPhone to the test. Renowned Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicts Apple will beat the EU mandate by a year and equip a new iPhone with a USB-C port in 2023.

“USB-C could improve iPhone transfer and charging speeds in hardware designs, but final specs still depend on iOS support,” Kuo wrote in a May post on Twitter.

For its part, Apple has been in the process of transitioning from Lightning to other products for several years now. The tech giant included USB-C in 2015 with that of that year MacBook. It later replaced Lightning with USB-C on the iPad Pro in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020, and iPad Mini in 2021. In addition to including a USB-C port on a rumored 2023 iPhone, Kuo expects several other Apple accessories, including AirPods , the Magic Keyboard and the MagSafe Battery Pack, to switch to USB-C, but it didn’t offer a specific timeline.

Read more: Will a USB-C iPhone make Apple’s Lightning cable obsolete? Not yet

In the long run, the iPhone’s shift to USB-C will benefit Apple customers — just as the law intended. Since most of the company’s iPads and Macs already use USB-C instead of Lightning, the move will streamline the charging experience. Apple loyalists currently require three different types of chargers to power the iPhone, MacBook, iPad, and Apple Watch. For a company that prides itself on its ecosystem, Apple offers a cumbersome charging experience that goes against its ethos of simplicity.

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto the back of iPhone 12 Pro

Apple has reintroduced its MagSafe charging technology with the iPhone 12 series. Here’s an Apple MagSafe battery pack clipped onto the iPhone 12 Pro.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“It makes sense that Apple [switch to a USB-C iPhone] across different markets as it will not only improve the experience of users who also use iPads or Macs, but also simplify supply chain processes,” Will Wong, a research manager for the International Data Corporation, told CNET .

read more: Apple’s Dream for iPhones Could Actually Be a Nightmare

Even if Apple eventually makes the switch to a USB-C iPhone for all models, it is possible that the connector will only be used for a short time. Rumors point to Apple leave ports on iPhone completelycompletely transitioning to wireless charging and connectivity as with Apple’s MagSafe accessories.

“Portless is probably one of the developments that Apple is looking at when we saw the introduction of the MagSafe wireless charger,” Wong said. “Yet there are hurdles such as slower loading speed to overcome before you become completely gateless,”

However, it’s more likely than ever that a USB-C iPhone will hit stores worldwide. It has been on the wish list of Apple fans for years, as a USB-C port is more convenient and transfers data more efficiently than its Lightning counterpart. Whether that happens in 2023, 2024 or beyond remains to be seen, but Apple is at least preparing itself and its iPhones for a transition in the EU.

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