iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature
In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any ‌iPhone‌ model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday, Kuo explained that Apple is reluctant to move to USB-C since it is a free, open standard, as well as less waterproof than Lightning.

We believe that USB-C is detrimental to the MFi business's profitability, and its waterproof specification is lower than Lightning and MagSafe.

Currently, Apple is able to strictly regulate the quality of Lightning cables and accessories through its Made for ‌iPhone‌ (MFi) program. MFi also generates a significant amount of income for the company since third-party manufacturers have to pay Apple a considerable commission to make Lightning cables or accessories.

iphone 5 lightning
Apple has used the Lightning connector on every ‌iPhone‌ since the ‌iPhone‌ 5 in 2012, but it has transitioned several of its devices to USB-C, including the iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and most recently, the iPad Air. With the need to connect to external drives being less pressing and some USB-C features such as external display connectivity outright impossible on an ‌iPhone‌, Apple is understandably less motivated to switch to USB-C on its most profitable product for MFi.

Transitioning the ‌iPhone‌ to USB-C this year would also leave a significant number of devices such as the entry-level iPad, iPad mini, AirPods, and a plethora of accessories such as the Magic Trackpad and MagSafe Duo charger, stuck with a connector that would no longer be widely used on any flagship products. Switching the ‌iPhone‌ to USB-C may, therefore, tip the scales against Lightning across Apple's product lineup, potentially forcing the company to phase out the connector entirely across a large number of products sooner than it wants to.

Amid rumors of a portless iPhone, Kuo clarified that Apple is more likely to switch directly to a portless model rather than first change to USB-C:

If the iPhone abandons Lightning in the future, it may directly adopt the portless design with MagSafe support instead of using a USB-C port.

In spite of this, Kuo stated that ‌MagSafe‌ wireless charging technology is not yet ready to displace a wired port, having only debuted as recently as October 2020 on the ‌iPhone‌ 12 lineup. ‌MagSafe‌ is currently unable to transfer data, complete a device recovery, or take diagnostics, which would seemingly be essential features on a future ‌iPhone‌ with no ports.

At present, the MagSafe ecosystem is not mature enough, so the iPhone will continue to use the Lightning port in the foreseeable future.

Overall, this means that Apple is intending to stick with the Lightning connector for the upcoming iPhone 13 at minimum, but could well extend to models beyond that, too.

Kuo's recent spate of reports about the future of the ‌iPhone‌ included the speculation that in 2022, at least some ‌iPhone‌ models will abandon the notch and switch to a "punch-hole display design" instead, and in 2023, Apple may unveil a 7.5–8 inch foldable iPhone.

Related Roundup: iPhone 13
Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

zorinlynx Avatar
42 months ago
I know I'll catch flak for saying this, but...

I'm glad. The lightning connector is a lot more durable than USB-C. I honestly think that this is why Apple keeps using it in their highest volume products.

We tend to plug and unplug our phones a lot to charge them, sometimes on a daily basis.

I've seen Macbooks with USB-C where the socket has worn out to such an extent the plug will fall out if you turn it sideways.

I've never seen a lightning connector wear out. At the worst it needs an occasional cleaning.

Yes, it's annoying to have a different connector than my Android friends but honestly, it's not a big deal. I almost always have a cable in my car I can use in an emergency.
Score: 85 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IG88 Avatar
42 months ago

It continues to shock me the number of people that actually care what kind of port their iphone has.
Yea, crazy how a person might want to use the same charger / cable for their iPad & iPhone.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Suckfest 9001 Avatar
42 months ago
Well obviously, they gotta figure out how to squeeze as much money as possible and going the proprietary cable route is better for them financially. Horrid for everyone else who wants a unified home cable-wise.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
McKodiak Avatar
42 months ago
Every time portless gets brought up, I have to bring up CarPlay. I think Apple would have to make a piece of hardware to accommodate non-wireless CarPlay cars. On some level, I don't mind buying Bluetooth headphones because Apple removes the headphone jack. I will not buy a new car because Apple removes the iPhone port.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lemon Olive Avatar
42 months ago
There has to be a reason to switch to USB-C, and that reason cannot be "muh single connector".

Apple has to gain something by moving to USB-C. Meaning there has to be a benefit to the user base that exceeds the negative trade offs from such a move. iPad Pro got USB-C because it was needed to achieve a competitive feature, which was 4K video out. They could not do that with Lightning, and iPad Pro was less competitive with devices like surface pro without it. And, iPad Pro is not used by the general market, so those customers were unlikely to complain about a cable changing.

iPhone on the other hand is a totally different animal. There is no motivating reason, and there is every reason not to. After nearly 10 years of Lightning, no one wants their cables and MFi accessories to not work, or have to be replaced. That is such a negative downside with no obvious upside.

Nevermind the fact that there are at least 20 different spec'd cables out there that have a USB-C connector on the end, making the "single connector" fallacy a joke.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghostface147 Avatar
42 months ago
Weird. USB-C is used in some form on most of their products. A portless model would be super super slow for those who transfer a lot of data over a cable now.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)