Let's talk about USB-C and Apple

by Volker Weber

MD818

This is the cable you get, when you buy an iPhone. It has a USB Type A plug on one end and a Lightning plug on the other end. You also get a charger with a USB Type A port. If you use a MacBook or a 2016 MacBook Pro, you cannot use this cable to connect the phone to your computer.

This week somebody started a rumor that iPhone was going to go to USB-C for the iPhone. Then everybody started to jump on the bandwagon and twisted this into "Apple is finally dropping Lightning". As if Lightning was a bad thing. Here is what I think will happen instead, if that original rumor is true:

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Apple is going to keep Lightning but they might ship a cable (and a charger) with USB-C on the other end. When they do that you can plug the cable right into your MacBook and still connect it to any iPhone you might still have (iPhone 5 and later). There goes the need for a dongle and all your other accessories still work.

USB-C is this great promise that you just need one cable and one charger that will charge all your accessories. And it remains a promise. I have a couple of smartphones with USB-C ports but you cannot mix and match chargers, cables and phones. QC3 is not compatible with FCP. So your Huawei phone cannot quick charge with a Samsung, BlackBerry oder Nokia charger and cable. Everything appears to be right, but it just won't do it. Is it the charger or the cable? Very difficult to find out. Let's face it: USB-C currently is a bag of hurt.

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This is the cable that is shipping with most Android smartphones today. USB Type A to USB-C. It's very similar to what Apple has been shipping with iPhone, it only has a USB-C instead of Lightning plug. That is precisely what Apple is not going to switch to. And USB-C on both ends? Why in the world would they drop Lightning and break compatibility with all their MFI accessories? If Apple ever drops Lightning from iPhones, then it will be replaced with nothing.

If Apple ships a USB-C to Lighning cable with futures iPhones, they are not going to support any of these QC3 or FCP hacks. It will be proper USB PD (power delivery).

Comments

Excellent analysis!

Markus Dierker, 2018-06-15

Well said. I disagree, that it is a 'bag of hurt', but I understand your point, things could be better. If quick charging is of concern, it is indeed tricky.

Lightning is great from several perspectives. I like the physical one, it is a lot more sturdy than USB-C. Switching to USB C on the device end would be a big step and hard to justify.

Hubert Stettner, 2018-06-15

My wife had a company issued iPad with a lightning connector. After a while the connector on the cable broke. Upon inspection, that cable connector looks rather fragile to me in comparison to a USB-C connector. What am I missing?

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2018-06-15

Lightning connectors seldom break. (Except counterfeit ones.)

Usually the cable will break near the connector because the insulation has disintegrated – which often seems to be caused by petroleum-based skin lotions or creams.

There are easy environmentally-unfriendly solutions, such as PVC. I hope Apple can find something better.

Chris Ferebee, 2018-06-15

Do people really care?

I only connect my iPhone to my Mac once a year, when the new iPhone arrives and I need to move the audiobooks I bought from Audible before they became part of Amazon from my Mac to my iPhone. Somehow I have been unable for some years now to get these into the iCloud and sync them back to the iPhone.

I have not unpacked the cable that comes with the iPhone for at least five generations.

Oliver Stör, 2018-06-15

Straight to the bone, nicely boiled down Vowe.

Oliver: Can you send those to me? ;-) In my house they disappear like cookies.

Hans Bornich, 2018-06-16

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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