While Apple’s iPhone 14 design decisions are going to split opinions, they are nothing compared to what Apple is planning next…
In a new Bloomberg report, acclaimed Apple reporter Mark Gurman reveals that Apple is currently testing iPhones which scrap the company’s proprietary (and incredibly lucrative) Lightning port in favor of USB-C. And it could make the iPhone 14 range worthless.
Gurman states that Apple’s decision is motivated by upcoming changes in European legislation that would force all phone manufacturers to adopt USB-C. The company has previously railed against the changes, claiming 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.”
But it is an argument the EU has dismissed and last month legislation for mandating USB-C was approved by a majority vote. And the consequences for the iPhone 14 range could be significant.
In Apple’s favour, the EU legislation is unlikely to affect iPhones until 2023 and Gurman states that Apple is testing USB-C on early iPhone 15 prototypes. But if the EU law passes, all iPhone models will a Lightning connector will quickly be seen as legacy devices. Not just by Apple fans but Apple itself.
There is precedent here. When the iPhone 5 introduced the Lightning port in 2011, Apple released the iPad 4 lineup just eight months after the iPad 3, it was a virtually identical tablet with just a processor bump and… yes, the new Lightning port. iPad 3 sales fell off a cliff, as did their second-hand value.
Consequently, if Apple launches the iPhone 15 range with USB-C it is plausible that the company may relaunch older iPhones it plans to continue selling (including iPhone 14 models) with USB-C after the iPhone 15 is released. This would kill second-hand values for Lightning-equipped iPhone 14 models.
And no, it is unlikely Apple would sell USB-C iPhones in Europe and Lightning-equipped iPhones in the rest of the world with Gurman explaining that “having multiple versions of the same iPhone with different connectors would probably bring even more confusion, as well as supply-chain headaches.”
Furthermore, there are objectively good reasons for the EU to make this change. Not only does a single port bring environmental benefits, USB-C offers faster charging and data transfer rates (which have clear usage scenarios). It would also unify Apple ranges, given MacBooks and iPad Pros already charge using USB-C.
Interestingly, Gurman’s report backs up a similar claim from popular Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on Wednesday. At the time, Kuo’s claim was dismissed by many as Apple was thought to be favoring a MagSafe-only iPhone future ahead of adopting USB-C. But with Gurman now on his side, the weight of both experts will see this news taken very seriously indeed.
At this stage, it is unclear if Apple would scrap their USB-C plans if the EU legislation doesn’t make it into law or if the company is already too far down the line. Gurman says Apple is already working on “an adapter that would let future iPhones work with accessories designed for the current Lightning connector.”
In short, nervous iPhone fans might be wise to hold off their upgrade plans until 2023 when wider design changes are coming anyway.
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