Apple is testing an iPhone that uses a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, and if Apple decides to swap ports, the first USB-C iPhone could see a 2023 launch.
This guide covers everything we know about the switch to USB-C.
A USB-C port would unify Apple's device lineup, allowing most people to use a single USB-C charger to charge up their iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Switching to USB-C would also allow for faster charging and it would enable faster transfer speeds.
The European Union is working on legislation that would require Apple to use a universal port standard across its product lineup, essentially prohibiting proprietary charging methods like Lightning.
If passed, Apple will need to release a USB-C iPhone in Europe to comply with regulations, which means Apple would need to develop a special Europe-only USB-C iPhone or transition to USB-C for the iPhone on a worldwide basis.
The European Parliament has voted in favor of the legislation, which will force all consumer electronics manufacturers who sell devices in Europe to make sure that phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, headsets, speakers, and handheld video game consoles charge via USB-C with no exceptions except for devices too small to support a USB-C port like the Apple Watch.
Apple has since backtracked on plans to stick with Lightning, but it's not clear if the swap to USB-C will impact the water resistance rating of the iPhone, or if Apple will be able to make a USB-C port that's as water resistant as a Lightning port.
With Lightning, Apple has some control over the ecosystem of accessories that are designed for the iPhone due to its Made for iPhone (MFi) program. Third-party manufacturers who want to produce Apple certified devices must get approval from Apple, and USB-C would open up a whole new range of accessories that are on the market.
Apple will presumably have less control over USB-C accessories designed for the iPhone, and it would also lose out on the licensing fees that it currently collects.
If Apple does swap over to USB-C for the iPhone, we can expect to see other accessories that currently use a Lightning port also adopt USB-C. This includes devices like the AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Magic Mouse, and more.
The 2022 iPhone 14 models will continue to use a Lightning port, and the earliest that Apple is expected to make the swap to USB-C is 2023. That would see the iPhone 15 models adopting a USB-C port, unless Apple decides to delay its current plans.