Apple’s Lightning Cable turns 10

Apple marketing head Phil Schiller announced that the company was switching from the 30-pin connector on every iPhone to a small new port called Lightning.

Lightning appeared to be everything its predecessor and competitors were not: reversible, compact, and robust. Schiller anointed it “a modern connector for the next decade.”

Every iPhone still arrives with a Lightning cable, which remains a dependable method for charging devices and connecting to accessories and cars.

But as Lightning approaches its 10th birthday, you, and numerous others, are ready for Apple to shut the book on this connector and raise a sea transformation in how we charge our phones. It’s not due to Lightning’s technically outdated; it’s because another port has overtaken it in one key area — ubiquity.

Lightning was — and still is — an excellent connector. The port was revolutionary and corresponded to everything else on demand at the time. However, the 30-pin connector was large, and Micro USB ports were picky and hard to plug in.

The Lightning port was both short and impossible to mess up, a formula so apparent it’s a surprise it took so long for anyone to reach there. As a result, apple’s competitors unexpectedly had a penalty regarding charging, data syncing, and overall phone convenience.

The Lightning connector was technically competent, too. Even today, the port stays thoroughly capable for how most of us use our phones — it can charge recent iPhones from dead to 50 percent battery in around half an hour. With the suitable cable, you can plug a pack of headphones into it; it’ll maintain a 1080p video signal.

It can achieve USB 3.0 speeds, too, even if that hasn’t been widely supported. Apple’s Lightning connector strengths iPhones old and new — but the other end of this cable utilizes USB-C so it can connect to Apple’s other products.

But for all its resilience, there’s one specialty Apple’s connector isn’t: universal. In 2022, most gadgets will use a reversible, versatile port to charge and connect — and it’s not Lightning. USB-C is on every Android phone and is becoming the default port for various gizmos like GoPros and game consoles. Even Apple employs it as the premiere connector for its MacBooks and practically all of its iPads.

These days, vanishingly few devices use Lightning. Instead, you’ll discover it on the iPhone, one model of iPad (for now), and some accessories, like Apple’s Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, and AirPods. So if you own an iPad Air and an iPhone, a Windows laptop, a MacBook and a Magic Mouse, and a pair of AirPods, you’ll require at least two separate chargers to power them.

Is that the most significant hassle in the world? Of course not. But it builds a bunch of little inconveniences when you’re touring or around friends with USB-C-equipped mobiles or even just sitting on the part of the settee where only your laptop charger reaches.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Apple is designing to introduce USB-C to the iPhone lineup with the forthcoming iPhone 14. But regulators could end up compelling Apple’s hand into getting rid of Lightning on the phones sooner rather than later. The EU is in the technique of making USB-C the legally mandated charging standard for mo.

Apple could always deal with a USB-C phone in Europe and a Lightning one everywhere. Still, it’s tough to imagine that Apple’s continued revenue cut from third-party Lightning accessories would compensate for the extra cost and intricacy of selling the iPhone with two additional ports.

Apple’s 2023 iPhones will include USB-C in response to the EU’s legislation. That would put Apple about a year earlier than the suggested fall 2024 deadline, which makes sense — if the company desires to continue its standard operating procedure of marketing the previous year’s phones, those would also have USB-C. In addition, adding the connector to the iPhone 15 would let Apple continue to sell it without issues after it launches the iPhone 16, likely around fall 2024.

Apple may circumvent the EU’s rules by altogether ditching a physical port and going all in on MagSafe wireless charging, as ever-present rumors indicate. That would be, in my view, a way worse option than just switching to USB-C. It has many of the same downsides, like pushing people to boost old equipment and cables, potentially guiding to a spike in e-waste and very few upsides for customers. But either way, it appears Lightning’s reign is closing its end.

If the iPhone were the only gadget you used, you wouldn’t be in any hurry to see the Lightning connector off — you plug your phone in to charge, listen to music, or sync to your car multiple times a day. It’ll likely do a fantastic job at those tasks for another decade. But you may use many other devices, all of which rely on USB-C. As a result, my iPhone, AirPods, trackpad, and Apple TV remote have become benign inconveniences to charge in an ocean of devices that focus on making your life as a consumer easier.

It’s not like Apple should be embarrassed about Lighting; it’s stayed for what counts as an eternity in the mobile market and influenced other manufacturers to move to a standard that is both competitive and suitable. So, Apple can both be scornful of the work it’s done and discover it’s time to move on — and when someone expends over $86,000 just for the wonder of owning an iPhone modified to have USB-C, it’s time to move on.