Apple's Lightning Port is Nearing Its Expiration Date, So What's Next for the iPhone?

When Phil Schiller introduced the Lightning connector at the unveiling of the iPhone 5 in September 2012, he called it "a modern connector for the next decade," and with that 10-year mark coming up later this year, questions remain over what the future of the ‌iPhone‌ looks like and whether or not that future will include a Lightning port, or perhaps no port at all.

iP14 Lightning Portless Feature blue
Every ‌iPhone‌ since the ‌iPhone‌ 5 has featured a Lightning port, which Apple touted in 2012 as a "smaller, smarter and more durable" port compared to the previous 30-pin connector. Even as the majority of the company's iPad line and the entire Mac line now feature USB-C, the ‌iPhone‌ has become the odd one out with its inclusion of Lightning.

The smartphone industry has rapidly transitioned to USB-C, with the vast majority of handsets on the market featuring the more versatile port. Apple's reluctance to follow the industry in adopting USB-C has annoyed many customers, but it appears Apple is sticking with Lightning on ‌iPhone‌ for the considerable future.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently shares accurate insights into Apple's product plans, has said the company believes the adoption of USB-C would negatively impact its Made for ‌‌iPhone‌‌ (MFi) program and notes that Apple is concerned about lower standards of water resistance for USB-C compared to Lightning. Given those two points, Kuo says the ‌iPhone‌ will continue to feature Lightning for the "foreseeable future."

Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature
Apple's ultimate goal for the ‌iPhone‌ is to go completely portless, relying on MagSafe and wireless connections for charging and data transfer needs. ‌MagSafe‌ on the ‌iPhone‌, which first debuted on the iPhone 12, is still not fully matured and is so far limited to charging. Apple is highly unlikely to abandon Lightning and adopt USB-C for only a few years before going portless. Instead, it's more likely to use Lightning while continuing to ‌MagSafe‌ matures for a future portless ‌iPhone‌.

The European Commission could, however, impact how soon we get a portless ‌iPhone‌. The EC has proposed a directive that would require all consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld videogame consoles, to feature a "common port," aka, USB-C. If the directive does pass in 2022, companies such as Apple will have two years to transition their devices to USB-C.

There are some caveats, though. On paper, the directive would constitute a significant change for the ‌iPhone‌ as it would be forced to include USB-C, but the directive only applies to devices that charge via cable.

A spokesperson for the EC confirmed to The Verge that if a device exclusively charges via wireless charging, it isn't required to include a USB-C port. That, alongside the two-year transition period that the directive would allocate to companies to transition to USB-C, gives Apple ample time to mature ‌MagSafe‌ and abandon Lightning in favor of an all-wireless future.

Apple's confusing port lineup has not gone unnoticed. Across the latest ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and AirPods models, Apple offers customers four completely different types of chargers to juice up their devices. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman highlighted the inconsistency in his Power On newsletter this past August. As Gurman noted at the time, "Lightning served Apple well since 2012, but USB-C has clearly won out across the industry and has become the default connector for new devices."

Top Rated Comments

blazerunner Avatar
12 weeks ago
Apple should take it's head out of it's ass and start using USB-C everywhere.
Score: 93 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ? Avatar
12 weeks ago
Not a big fan of the MagSafe. It's a cool feature but overheats the phone way too much. Also, not convenient at all.

Just bring the USB-C to the iPhone's lineup. Keep it simple. Makes no sense why iPhone doesn't carry the USB-C. The hardware features we want from the current iPad Air, the iPhone itself doesn't carry. It's kinda sad. For example Fingerprint Touch ID button, USB-C.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KanosWRX Avatar
12 weeks ago
I just hope they switch to USB-C.. they can't get rid of the port completely, too many devices rely upon some kind of physical port, namely millions of cars that have Apple CarPlay. They would piss off a lot of people if they killed it off completely unless they can magically turn all those cars into wireless CarPlay.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Koni17 Avatar
12 weeks ago
I can see USB-C being implemented in the very near future. There's nothing "Pro" about the iPhone Pro when it takes forever to transfer huge video files over lightning. Seeing how they've been heavily promoting video capabilities in the iPhone to amateur cinematographers, it's only a matter of time until a new standard is implemented.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Neepman Avatar
12 weeks ago
I am never short of amazement of all the advocacy of abandoning what is a clearly better connector and port for a mobile device. USB-C is far more prone to wear, breaking and contamination.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Antknee Avatar
12 weeks ago

I didn't know they came with expiration dates
Clickbait title
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

apple watch series 7 fast charge

Apple Watch Series 7 Fast Charging Requires 5W or Greater USB-C PD Adapter

Thursday October 14, 2021 7:47 pm PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 7 includes a new charging architecture that allows it to refuel up to 33% faster than the Series 6, charging from 0 to 80% in 45 minutes. The fast-charging capability requires a new USB-C charging cable that Apple includes in the box with the watch and also sells separately, but until now Apple hasn't provided details on what wattage of power adapter is required for...
maxresdefault

Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2022

Friday January 7, 2022 1:26 pm PST by
CES 2022 is wrapping up today, and while it was a more muted event because of the ongoing pandemic that saw many exhibitors and attendees cancel, there were still plenty of new product announcements. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of the best Apple-related accessories that we saw this year. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Garmin Venu 2 Plus...
belkin dock 1

Belkin Debuts New 12-Port CONNECT Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock

Thursday February 24, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Belkin today announced the launch of the CONNECT Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock, which is a docking station that offers Thunderbolt 4 connectivity for 40Gb/s total bandwidth and support for fast charging, dual display support, and more. The CONNECT Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock is compatible with both Macs and PCs, offering 12 power, data, and video ports. It includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports (one upstream...
Ampere Jetpack 1

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a 'Jetpack' Magnetic Power Bank for iPhone 13 From Ampere

Wednesday November 24, 2021 11:00 am PST by
We've teamed up with Ampere to offer readers a chance to win one of the company's Jetpack magnetic iPhone power banks, which have been designed with the iPhone 13 lineup in mind. While the $49 Jetpack works with the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 13 lineups, it has been customized to fit the iPhone 13. The magnets won't interfere with the camera, and it works perfectly on Apple's smallest iPhone...
studio display

Studio Display Supports 5th-Gen iPad Air, But Not the 4th-Gen or the iPad Mini 6 [Updated]

Wednesday March 9, 2022 3:26 am PST by
Update: Apple has since confirmed to MacRumors that plugging in a fourth-generation iPad Air or iPad mini 6 into the Studio Display will result in a downscaled 1440p output. According to Apple, the new 27-inch 5K Studio Display supports a range of Macs going back to 2016 MacBook Pro models, but its compatibility with iPads is notably limited to the 11-inch iPad Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro...
maxresdefault

iPhone X Modded With USB-C Port Listed on eBay With Bids Topping $99,000

Thursday November 4, 2021 6:21 am PDT by
Earlier this week, robotics student Ken Pillonel shared a video explaining how he modded an iPhone X with a functional USB-C port in place of the usual Lightning connector. The USB-C port works for both charging the iPhone and data transfer. Pillonel also put the device up for auction on eBay, and bids are already topping a whopping $99,000. The listing describes the device as "the world's...
iphone with usb c port

iPhone X With USB-C Port Sells For $86,001 on eBay

Friday November 12, 2021 3:13 am PST by
Last week, an iPhone X modified with a USB-C port was listed on eBay as "the world's first USB-C iPhone," and now, a few days after intense bidding, the USB-C iPhone has been sold for $86,001. The iPhone was modified by Ken Pillonel, a robotics student who shared a video explaining how he did it. Since the video was posted on November 1, it's garnered over 600,000 views and has been widely...
iphone with usb c port

Student Mods an iPhone X to Add a Functional USB-C Port

Monday November 1, 2021 12:18 pm PDT by
Apple seems to have no plans to replace the iPhone's Lightning port with a USB-C port to bring it in line with Macs and iPads, but robotics student Ken Pillonel spent months hacking an iPhone to add a USB-C port. In early October, Pillonel shared a video demonstrating the "world's first iPhone with a USB Type-C port," and now he's shared a second video explaining how he pulled it off....

Popular Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...
2022 Apple Watch Pride Edition Bands

Apple Announces 2022 Pride Edition Watch Bands and Watch Face

Tuesday May 24, 2022 6:24 am PDT by
Apple today announced new Pride bands for the Apple Watch, with new Pride Edition Sport Loop and Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop options available. The new Pride Edition bands are available to order today for $49 on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, and will be available at Apple Store locations starting May 26. The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is also coming soon to Nike.com. This...