Requests for a switch to USB-C on iPhones have been prevalent since Apple first adopted the medium in 2018 on the iPad Pro lineup. Its advantages, which enabled faster data transfer and opened up the iPad for use with other devices, were significant. Unfortunately, four years on, there still hasn't been a switch to USB-C on iPhone, even on the Pro models. But, 2023 might finally be the year as the EU Commission's common charger legislation and its impending effects loom over Apple.
When will USB-C iPhones come to market?
According to tweets from Ming-Chi Kuo, iPhones launched in the second half of 2023 — presumably the iPhone 15 lineup in September — will feature a USB-C port. He expects USB-C-related suppliers to become a key point of focus as the number of devices shipping with USB-C ports — smartphones and accessories — is expected to increase many folds.
He followed up his initial tweet with information stating that accessories like the MagSafe Battery Pack and AirPods would also switch over to the USB-C, bringing the era of iPhone's proprietary ports to an end and completing their second switch to a different connector type.
The exact effect the change will implement on the iPhone user experience is unclear as the features available can be controlled by how Apple writes the code for iOS. Still, seeing how iPadOS embraced the USB-C port, we expect the iPhone to follow suit.
What happens to Lightning Port Accessories?
A pain point that every iPhone owner might encounter with this switch would be the fact that their investment in Lightning-related accessories might turn out to be unfruitful.
Although, according to an article written by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple is also developing an adapter that will allow USB-C iPhones to work with Lightning accessories. Adapters that allow you to use USB-C cables with your iPhone today are an example of what you can expect.
Nevertheless, if you want to make the most of what USB-C has to offer, we recommend upgrading some of the equipment you have around the house to use the available features better. But if you've been wondering what this upgrade is that everyone talks about, we've explored some of the advantages a USB-C iPhone would bring in the following part of this article.
Advantages of USB-C on iPhone
Improvements to Data Transfer Speeds
If you've heard of a USB-C port, it is likely that you also know about USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and USB 4. Each of these generations offers a different set of capabilities.
While some of us expect the newer USB-C to feature USB 3.1 Gen 1 and above, that is not always the case. The USB-C to Lightning Cable that Apple sells is limited to USB 2.0, meaning the maximum output coming from your iPhone is capped at 480 Mbps, although USB-C should be able to do far better. The limitation there is caused by the Lightning Port, and the switch to USB-C should finally allow Apple to implement the newer standards on iPhone, which will let you transfer data at much faster speeds.
Using a USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port would mean iPhones will be able to transfer data at a maximum theoretical speed of 5 Gbps, which is ten times faster than the USB 2.0 standard. And anything above is bound to be considered a plus.
We want to mention that the newest iPad Pro models feature support for USB 4, meaning they can have a theoretical output of 40 Gbps with compatible devices. We've listed the exact specification Apple uses on their current USB-C iPads in the table below.
If you ask us, we think Apple will make the USB 4 port available on its Pro Model iPhones (provided the A16 Bionic can work with it). At the same time, the standard iPhone 15 could receive USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports to create another point of differentiation between the two tiers.
Nevertheless, the upgrade will be noticeable, and creators or families who often move around images to and from their devices with a wired connection have a handy upgrade coming their way.
Possible Access to Faster Charging Speeds
Also, the move to newer generations of USB-C might even allow iPhones to access faster-charging speeds, up to 240W, if Apple decides to open up any software-based limiter that iOS probably has in place to act as a safety measure. They'll even have to create the required charging brick.
The USB-A to Lightning Cable has a cap of 12W of power, and we know the USB-C to Lightning can provide 20W. But some products deliver 65W and more with USB-C to USB-C cables, and it's about time Apple catches up.
Increased Compatibility with External Displays
Next up, linking to an external display via iPhone depends on support for AirPlay 2 or the need to use a dongle that allows data to pass through from Lightning to HDMI. The shift to USB-C would make any USB-C monitor on sale can act as an external display for your iPhone. This can come particularly handy if you use your smartphone as an editing machine and would like to view the images on a bigger screen.
LumaFusion on iPad can display the video feed on a screen while you continue to make edits on the tablet. And the iPhone could support such workflows too. Hence, making your mobile device even more capable than before.
Features we want to see!
Ability to reverse charge devices: iPad models with a USB-C port are already capable of providing charge to smaller accessories and even iPhones. We hope the inclusion of a USB-C on the iPhone will come with support for this too!
Ability to 45W fast charge: Earlier in this article, you might have noticed we mentioned the shift to USB-C could bring access to better charging speeds, but this decision is in the hands of Apple. We hope the company adopts the USB PD PPS system and unlocks higher potential for the iPhone.
In my day-to-day usage, the 20W works just fine, but I'd like the option to use a higher wattage plug to get that boost in a sticky situation.
Directly Connect to Accessories: This feature is likely to be easy to lock behind a door, but we hope Apple embraces it, as they have on iPads. Thus, allowing users to transfer images from their cameras and external storage devices for easy modification and even connect controllers for use on iPhone.