If you buy a new iPhone in 2024 then you’re going to have to say goodbye to your old Lightning cables and accessories.
The European Union has said that all smartphones sold in its member countries will have to use USB-C by 2024. That has signalled that the iPhone will have to ditch its ten-year-old Lightning connector in favour of USB-C.
Apple had not confirmed it had accepted this change until an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week when Greg Joswiak, senior VP of worldwide marketing at Apple, conceded defeat.
“Governments get to do what they’re going to do and obviously we’ll have to comply, we have no choice,” he said when asked about the ruling.
“We think the approach would have been better environmentally and better for our customers to not have a government be that prescriptive.”
It’s the first time a senior Apple executive has admitted the iPhone will have to have USB-C by 2024 – likely the iPhone 16. But it’s not clear if the company will stubbornly keep its Lightning connector on iPhones in countries outside the EU.
This seems unlikely, but all iPhone 14 models sold in the US don’t have a SIM tray whereas every other country’s version of the phones still do.
The writing has been on the wall for Apple’s Lightning port for quite some time. While Apple is adamant about using Lighting on its iPhone range, the rest of its products including most iPads have slowly made the shift to the vastly superior USB-C.
“It’s been a great connector and over a billion people have it already, have the cables, have what they need, have all the infrastructure in their homes, have speakers that work with it,” Joswiak lamented.
When the WSJ’s Joanna Stern pushed him on what was so good about Lightning, he said:
“For most iPhone customers its primarily about charging … Lightning charges pretty well.”
He declined to comment exactly when the iPhone would make the switch.
It’s only the iPhone, AirPods, and ninth-generation iPad that still rock the ageing Lightning port among the products Apple still sells, and considering Apple touted a massive increase in transfer speeds (around 5Gbps) when it made the switch from Lightning to USB-C on its iPad mini, it’s a little odd that it has been so reluctant to bring similar gains to its flagship product range.
There is still speculation that Apple is heading towards a future iPhone that will have no ports at all given all its iPhones can charge wirelessly and newer models have the magnetic MagSafe system for wireless charging with various accessories.
But this is unlikely to happen until data transfer can be done wirelessly, or when wireless charging speeds are as fast as cable speeds. Even then, it might be a change first made on the most expensive Pro iPhones.