Gurman and Kuo both agree: Apple is testing an iPhone using a USB-C port for 2023
Gurman’s sources requested anonymity because this is a private matter. His report did confirm the 2023 timeline laid out by Kuo as Gurman pointed out that any change made to the Lightning port on the iPhone wouldn’t take place before 2023. This means that consumers can expect that each of the four iPhone units being introduced later this year will feature the usual Lightning port.
Before the Lightning port, there was the 30-pin adapter
Apple is getting rid of the 5.4-inch iPhone mini this year and the refreshed lineup will include the 6.1-inch iPhone 14, the 6.7-inch iPhone Max, the 6.1-inch iPhone 14, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Replacing the Lightning port with USB-C would allow the latest iPhone models to join most iPad and Mac models which already employ USB-C. Such a move simplifies charging and data transfer across multiple product lines.
Even with the change, some other Apple products will still use the proprietary Lightning system which debuted on September 12th, 2012. It replaced the 30-pin adapter on the iPhone 5, the fifth-generation iPod touch, and the seventh-generation iPod Nano. The fourth-gen iPad and the OG iPad mini were added to the list of Lightning devices in October 2012.
Gurman’s report adds that Apple is also working on an adapter that would allow future iPhone units to work with accessories made for the current Lightning connector. USB-C chargers are a little bigger than the Lightning adapter, and they do charge faster and offer faster data transfer speeds. If Apple does make this move in 2023, third-party accessories firms will have to make changes to the designs of their charging products for Apple devices.
Apple gets paid by third-party accessory manufacturers to allow them to use the Lightning adapter. But since USB-C is a standard used on many Android phones, Apple is bound to lose some control over this area of phone accessories.
Apple might be forced by law to make this change in Europe where the EU has decided to force phone and other device manufacturers to switch to USB-C. By majority vote, legislation demanding that device makers use USB-C passed. The legislation reads, “Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld video-game consoles and portable speakers, rechargeable via a wired cable, would have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of the manufacturer.”
Apple says forcing it to use the USB-C port will stifle innovation
Last year, Apple said that forcing manufacturers to use USB-C would make it harder for it to innovate. The company said, “We are concerned that regulation mandating just one type of connector for all devices on the market will harm European consumers by slowing down the introduction of beneficial innovations in charging standards, including those related to safety and energy efficiency.”
If the European law doesn’t pass, Apple could decide to remain focused on using the Lightning platform even though many iPhone users have been in favor of making the change anyway. If the law passes, Apple could produce a special version of the iPhone with USB-C support for European markets while keeping the Lightning system available elsewhere. However, that not only would lead to confusion and chaos, but it would also be a messy situation for Apple’s supply chain.
Up to now, the iPhone has had just two different port designs. The unwieldy 30-pin plug was the design used when the OG iPhone launched in 2007. It also was used on products like the iPod touch and the iPad. And then, of course, came the smaller and easier to use Lightning cable.
You might recall that last year, an engineering student modified an iPhone X swapping the Lightning port for a USB-C port. The phone sold on eBay for $86,000 indicating the demand there is for an iPhone that uses USB-C. If Kuo and Gurman are right, such an animal will hit the market next year.