Why USB-C iPhones Could Help Make Your Life Easier

Less mess, faster charging

  • Apple may be doing away with its Lightning port on upcoming iPhone models in favor of USB-C. 
  • USB-C offers faster data rates and charging times than Lightning. 
  • The European Union is mandating a single charging standard to reduce electronic waste.
person turning off power adapters for mobile phones and tablet computers

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If you use multiple types of devices, the nest of charging cables under your bed might soon get a lot smaller, and experts say that's a good thing. 

Apple is reportedly planning to replace the current Lightning port with USB-C in the next version of its iPhone. It's part of a growing movement to do away with proprietary chargers due to environmental concerns, and USB-C boasts better technology than competing standards. 

"It's just a better connection method," James Francis, a mobile phone expert at mobile phone company Mozillion, told Lifewire in an email interview. "For one, it's faster, which means it can handle a far faster data transfer. Apple's Lightning cable can only support speeds of up to 480Mbps, while USB-C can support up to 40Gbps. When it comes to charging your phone, USB-C can also charge faster than a Lightning cable."

Faster Than Thou

Lightning cables probably don't need much of an introduction if you're one of the more than one billion iPhone users on Earth. But as a refresher, Lightning is a proprietary data and power connector created and designed by Apple in 2012. 

Igor Spinella, CEO of the charging accessory brand Einova, told Lifewire via email that Apple decided to come up with its own standard, now known as Lightning because it wanted to stay at the technological forefront. The older micro USB standard "was not reversible, digital video and audio streams were missing, and it was very fragile," he said.

Now, Apple may switch to USB-C to provide a more consistent experience for users across its product lineup, Jeroen van Gils, CEO of LiFi, a networking technology service, told Lifewire via email. The company has already adopted USB-C for its MacBooks and iPad Pros. 

"By making the switch to USB-C, Apple is setting the stage for a future where all of its products can be easily connected and charged using a single type of connector," he added. 

Having a universal standard will make buying accessories much easier and allows them to use the same cable across multiple rechargeable household devices, Steven Athwal, CEO of The Big Phone Store, told Lifewire via email. He also pointed out that it opens up the market for earphones for users, as most modern audio equipment connects via USB-C.

Aside from converting to a universal standard for the future of rechargeable devices for convenience, the USB-C cable can deliver much faster speeds, Athwal further noted. Lightning cables are currently on USB 2.0, which is "quite dated" in terms of data transfer and charging rates, he said, adding, "this also coincides with Apple increasing their image quality, making data transfers almost unviable by using a Lightning cable."

Losing Lightning

A recent ruling for countries in the European Union requires manufacturers to ensure personal electronic devices sold there support USB-C. The rule doesn't go into effect until 2024, but Apple is expected to adapt to it starting with the launch of the 2023 iPhone, Francis said.  

"These new obligations will lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to 250 million euro [roughly $243.7 million] a year on unnecessary charger purchases," the EU parliament said in a news release. "Disposed of and unused chargers account for about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually in the EU."

Man connecting his phone to his car

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Francis noted that most modern non-Apple products support USB-C, such as Sony's Playstation 5, PCs, Xbox, and most Android phones, meaning all the cables you use for them or have lying around the house could then be used with a USB-C compatible iPhone. 

"Finally, it's a more 'solid' connection," he added, "the actual fitting gives a far more satisfying click once connected."

One potential downside of USB-C for iPhone users, however, is that it will require an adapter in order to work with existing accessories, van Gils said. Additionally, some users may find the new connector to be less durable than the standard USB port.

"However, Apple is used to ensuring 10 years of continuity when a choice is done," van Gils said. "So it will be a long-term investment, and USB-C cables are more durable than lightning cables."

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