The iPhone 14 Is Unlikely to Be Portless, Here's Why

Ever since Apple removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 in 2016, rumors have swirled that Apple eventually aims to ditch the Lightning port next for a completely portless design. Indeed, analysts originally predicted that the highest-end ‌‌iPhone‌‌ 13 would offer a "completely wireless experience." Of course, that didn't happen, but a portless iPhone 14 in 2022 looks just as unlikely, for the following reasons.

iP14 Lightning Portless Feature Gray Grey
Apple's longtime goal has been to design an ‌‌iPhone‌‌ with no external ports or buttons for a clean, streamlined device, but significant hurdles still remain if it intends to provide a completely wireless charging and data transfer solution. As far as data is concerned, Apple would need to look beyond Bluetooth because of its bandwidth limitations and rely on a faster wireless protocol that allows iPhone data transfer at a speed that either matches or exceeds Lightning, otherwise the loss of the port would be seen as a backward step.

In fact, Apple has already developed such a protocol. MacRumors recently discovered that Apple Watch Series 7 models are equipped with a module that enables 60.5GHz wireless data transfer when placed on a proprietary magnetic dock with a corresponding 60.5GHz module. Apple probably doesn't advertise this capability because it's for internal use only. For example, Apple Store staff may use the dock to wirelessly restore an Apple Watch. It's unclear how fast its wireless data transfer is, but our understanding is that USB 2.0 speeds up to 480 Mbps might be possible. In other words, Lightning speed.

However, it's not just data transfer that would need to be achieved wirelessly. With no Lightning port, you wouldn't be able to physically connect your iPhone directly to a computer to reset an unresponsive iPhone through recovery mode. Unless Apple came up with an alternative at-home solution – a second iteration of MagSafe with high-speed data transfer capabilities, perhaps – the iPhone would have to go back to the Apple Store every time an over-air update or full device restore failed and borked the device, meaning more irritation and inconvenience for end users.

iphone 13 magsafe 1
For argument's sake, let's say Apple introduced "MagSafe 2.0" alongside a portless iPhone 14 and solved these data/recovery issues. The existing MagSafe Charger provides up to 15W of peak power delivery (or 12W on the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini) and charges a compatible ‌iPhone‌ less than half as fast as a wired 20W USB-C charger, so any new version of MagSafe would have to ramp up the juice considerably in order to come close to existing cable speeds.

Admittedly, Apple could probably pull off this feat (assuming it has shaken off its AirPower woes). You only have to look at its rivals to see what's already possible. Both the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro support up to 21W and 23W wireless charging speeds, respectively, while the OnePlus 9 Pro boasts 50W wireless charging speeds thanks to its next-generation Warp charger, which is capable of charging a dead phone to full power in 43 minutes. That's faster than an iPhone plugged directly into a 20W charger. Xiaomi is another leader in the field – the 5000mAh battery in its Mi 11 Ultra phone can be charged from 0% to 100% inside 30 minutes, wirelessly.

Yet despite these speed gains in wireless charging, an oft-overlooked problem is its generally poor energy efficiency. In 2020, Eric Ravenscraft of Debugger found that wireless charging uses around 47% more power than wired charging for the same amount of power. Unless Apple surprised us with a new version of MagSafe boasting unprecedented energy efficiency, ditching the Lightning port would surely run counter to its much-touted environmental policy.

And that's not the only eco-problem Apple would be inviting upon itself by going portless. Speaking out in 2020 against EU deliberations on requiring a universal port across all mobile devices, Apple said that removing the Lightning port from the ‌iPhone‌ would "create an unprecedented amount of electronic waste." It's not hard to see how this line of argument could be turned against Apple if it launched a portless ‌iPhone‌ in 2022. It would make millions of existing Lightning cables, charging docks, and other adapters in the wild obsolete overnight and ready for the trash.

Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature
Of course, Apple could perhaps satisfy the European Commission by adopting USB-C, but that would just be swapping out one connector for another, committing the company to another cable standard for longer. Apple would effectively be kicking its vision of a portless iPhone further into the long grass. Indeed, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," and has no intention of switching to USB-C, which has a lower water specification than Lightning. As Kuo rightly notes, such a move would also be detrimental to Apple's profitable MFi business, which is why he believes Apple is more likely to switch directly to a portless model rather than first change to USB-C.

Given these interlacing obstacles, in spite of some iPhone 14 rumors, we expect Apple's next smartphone‌ to continue to use Lightning ports with the option of ‌MagSafe,‌ until a more viable wireless charging solution comes along that allows for a portless ‌iPhone‌ design without the attendant disadvantages. So when could that be? Frankly, it's hard to say.

Back in 2016, Apple was rumored to be partnering with Energous to deliver a "true wireless charging" solution, but nothing has come from it so far. Apple is still believed to be researching new wireless charging technologies, and with the advent of ‌MagSafe‌, the company is clearly still interested in innovating new ways to power devices without the mess of cables. How long we'll have to wait for one that powers a portless iPhone remains unknown.

Related Roundups: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

AppleTO Avatar
14 months ago
CarPlay wasn’t mentioned, but that’s probably one of the most important features people would lose.

I just purchased a new vehicle that doesn’t have wireless CarPlay so the chance of me buying a portless phone is pretty well zero.
Score: 82 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CyberGene Avatar
14 months ago
I record my piano videos by connecting my Yamaha digital piano through a USB cable and the Apple adapter to the iPhone for perfectly synced video and clean digital sound from the piano coming through USB audio. It’s been something many Yamaha users love. There are also great portable stereo microphones (e.g. Shure) that connect through a lightning connector to turn your iPhone into a perfect and high quality portable stereo recorder.

It would be a huge mistake to eliminate physical data connector. I hope Apple don’t fall for the BS.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kuckuckstein Avatar
14 months ago
If Apple is serious about the environment then the main reason not to go 100% wireless is the loss of energy while charging wirelessly. Unless somebody invents a way to come close to the efficiency of wired energy transfer, pure wireless should be a big no.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dszakal Avatar
14 months ago
Start creating only portless iPhones and after more than 10 years I'll move back to Android.

If the portless means really portless, that means the marketing division really badly defeated the engineers and common sense was fully dropped.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Quu Avatar
14 months ago
My chief concern with the iPhone port situation is they've given us 1TB iPhones with the ability to shoot 4K ProRes.

These produce very large files that take a long time to transfer at USB 2.0 speed which in my testing seems to top out around 33MB/s. It can actually take several hours to transfer footage this way, even WiFi is faster though does make the phone get very hot and it throttles after a while.

I would have really liked to see them introduce USB-C at 10Gb/s so we could have 1.25GB/s file transfers. I feel at-least for the Pro iPhone with its capability to author such large video files that it makes sense to have.

If they are going to remove the ports entirely then I hope whatever wireless transfer method they come up with is greater than USB 2.0 speed because it's becoming a real bottleneck to using the phones in the way Apple advertises them in a pro workflow.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macsorcery Avatar
14 months ago

[HEADING=2]The iPhone 14 Is Unlikely to Be Portless[/HEADING]
thats good to hear. we should be able to get those ships unloaded faster.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
maxresdefault

Kuo: Apple to Release Foldable iPad With Carbon Fiber Kickstand in 2024

Monday January 30, 2023 12:55 am PST by
Apple will launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand sometime next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In a series of tweets, Kuo said he expects an "all-new design foldable iPad" to be the next big product launch in the iPad lineup, with no other major iPad releases in the next nine to 12 months. The analyst said he...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
MKBHD HomePod 2 White Ring Stain

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces

Tuesday January 31, 2023 8:29 am PST by
When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod. In a side-by-side test, he showed that the white second-generation HomePod left a white ring on the wooden surface that he placed the speaker on,...
tim cook data privacy day

Apple Violated U.S. Labor Laws With Anti-Leak Email

Monday January 30, 2023 3:43 pm PST by
Apple violated United States labor laws when it sent out an email warning employees about leaking confidential information about the company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said today in a ruling shared by Bloomberg. Rules that Apple has established around leaks "tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees" from the exercise of their rights under the National Labor...