It was actually unavoidable, but due to EU legislation requiring USB-C to become the common charging standard, Apple has now confirmed that it will comply with the law and switch from Lightning to USB-C on future iPhones.
Greg Joswiak (Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing) said so much in one: Wall Street Journal video interview (opens in new tab)which confirms that “of course we will have to stick”.
Joswiak hasn’t said exactly when that change will happen, as the law won’t go into effect until 2024, so it’s possible the iPhone 15 will still have Lightning, but Apple may not be waiting to make the inevitable switch either, and there are going to be indeed rumors that the iPhone 15 will use USB-C next year.
Apple’s Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak (@gregjoz) join @JoannaStern on #WSJTechLive to discuss products, privacy and power at the tech giant https://t.co/fNo2JGwMB4 https://t.co/aGrTlZrUo4October 26, 2022
Joswiak would also not be interested in whether this change will apply globally or only in Europe, so there is still some uncertainty.
However, the interview reveals that this is not a change the company would like to make. Despite the move to USB-C for iPads and Macs, Joswiak noted that moving iPhones to USB-C will create a lot of e-waste as the billions of Lightning cables around the world will no longer be usable with future products.
He believes that by making the cables removable from the power brick (so you can connect the cable of your choice to the brick), Apple has struck a good balance that won’t hinder customers, and that this forced switch to USB C is not the best for most of its customers.
He also pointed out that in the past, governments have tried to standardize micro-USB connectors, and if that had happened, there probably wouldn’t have been a Lightning cable or USB-C — both of which are superior to micro-USB.
These are all reasonable points, but with Apple’s move to USB-C on other products, the growing popularity of wireless charging and rumors of a portable iPhone, it seems like Lightning’s days were probably numbered, with or without EU intervention.
Analysis: Expect USB-C worldwide
While Joswiak won’t say whether future iPhones will also switch to USB-C in the US and other regions outside the EU, it seems very likely that they will.
His point about e-waste might mean we’re still seeing Lightning elsewhere, to minimize the number of unusable Lightning cables, but developing and manufacturing iPhones with different ports for different regions seems to create a level of cost and hassle that could be avoided with a global change.
Plus, as mentioned above, the days of Lightning ports are probably numbered anyway. Aside from e-waste, Joswiak’s problems seem to be mostly about USB-C standardization, rather than the iPhone having a USB-C port. So soon all the best phones probably have the same charging port.