It’s Time Apple Switches to USB-C for iPhones

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 15 Jan 2019

iPhone XR

After ditching the Lightning port and switching to USB-C for its 2018 iPad Pro lineup, Apple is reportedly also considering switching to USB-C for its 2019 iPhone lineup. But are you ready to give up on your Lightning accessories and welcome USB-C?

While Lightning has been the port for all iOS devices released since 2011, it is time for Apple to retire it for good. Surprisingly, despite its age, the Lightning port has held up pretty well. It’s slim, features a reversible connector, and supports fast charging — the same advantages as offered by USB-C. But it is time for Apple to retire it and adopt USB-C for the greater good.

Apple switching to USB-C will give the USB-C ecosystem a major adoption boost. It is not like other OEMs are waiting for Apple to switch to USB-C. All major laptop, PC, and smartphone OEMs have already switched to USB-C. But despite their best efforts, the USB-C ecosystem has not flourished. That will change once Apple adopts USB-C on its iPhone lineup.

USB-C to USB-C cables are still pretty expensive and not all of them are the same. Apple adopting the standard will force the ecosystem to align itself and accessory makers will come up with quality yet cheap USB-C cables. And since USB-C is a universal standard, it will also mean that an accessory you buy for your iPhone will work with other Android devices featuring USB-C. And with Apple switching to USB-C for the iPad Pro, you can use the same set of accessories you purchase for your iPad with your iPhone.

Belkin USB-C cable

Like the iPad Pro, Apple can also offer 4K HDR video output over USB-C on its 2019 iPhones. Apple’s GPU is definitely powerful enough and this move will make the iPhone a great productivity tool on the go.

Even better, you will be able to use the charger of an Android device to charge your iPhone at your friend’s place. No need to worry anymore about carrying a Lightning cable with you all the time or struggling to find one when your iPhone is running on fumes.

The switch will also mean that anyone who is already deep into Apple’s ecosystem will only have to carry one charger to charge all their Apple devices. The company’s MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iPad Pro lineup all feature USB-C and come with a relevant charger. Throw in the iPhone to the mix and it all will make even more sense. With only your MacBook or iPad charger, you would be able to charge your iPhone as well. No need to worry about carrying a separate cable/charger with you.

Another major advantage of switching over to USB-C would be its universal nature. It is only a matter of time before USB-C becomes ubiquitous. It will potentially allow audio OEMs to switch over to USB-C on their devices as they will no longer have to worry about not supporting one set of smartphone owners out there. USB-C has the potential to become the perfect headphone jack replacement but that can only happen once Apple switches over to it as well.

It is, however, important that Apple does not just make the switch from a hardware perspective but from a software viewpoint as well. The 2018 iPad Pro can recognize only a handful of USB-C devices; it cannot recognize external USB-C storage and at best can only import photos from them. Similarly, the iPad Pro can only mirror its display to the monitor it is connected to while ideally, it should offer an option to use it as a secondary display as well. These are some serious limitation and Apple needs to ensure that iOS 13 has proper support for USB-C and its vast ecosystem of accessories from the ground up.

If we look at Lightning, then what are the benefits if Apple sticks with it on its 2019 iPhones? Not much really. Apart from accessory makers paying Apple to get the required MFi certification and a wide range of already existing Lightning accessories, there’s no other benefit for Apple sticking to Lightning now.

Now, the time has come that Apple should switch to USB-C and ditch Lightning for good. The benefits of USB-C far outweigh that of Lightning. Ideally, the company should have made this move with the iPhone X in 2017 itself. It gave the iPhone a huge redesign and a switch to USB-C back then would have made perfect sense. Better late than never I guess.

Do you think Apple should still stick to Lightning connector on its iPhone? Or is it time for the company to switch to USB-C for good?