January 24, 2021
iPhone 12 should switch to USB-C

iPhone 12 should switch to USB-C


Come on already.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Will the iPhone 12 use a USB-C connection or stick with Lightning? Lightning has been around since the iPhone 5 in 2012, when it debuted as a replacement for the old 30-pin charger that had been around since the iPod. Lightning had its advantages, way back: it was small, and enabled faster data transfer. But the era of USB-C has been here for years, now. Lightning feels old by comparison.

Apple’s iPad lineup has started to shift: the iPad Pro first, now the iPad Air this year. MacBooks have all moved to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. I can charge an iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia controller, and Oculus Quest 2 all from common charge cables. And, then…Lightning for the rest.

At the moment, there’s a power strip studded with all the bricks and cords I need to charge up all my random devices at my home office desk. I see a ton of wearable-specific chargers, but for everything else, it’s nearly all USB-C. Everything, that is, except for the iPhone…and the few other Apple devices that still use Lightning.

I hate dongles. And I dislike proprietary charge cables even more. At least one could be eliminated on future iPhones.

Sanho HyperDrive USB-C Hub for iPad Pro

Okay, this might be going too far. But you could…on iPad Pro.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

I don’t think I need to explain why USB-C should be on the iPhone. Because…all other phones use it? Because half of Apple’s devices, more or less, do? And also, it would allow a more seamless flow of accessories and dongles for the iPhone and iPad Pro and other products I use. Sure, I can do many of those things with Lightning and a dongle: I could output to a TV with HDMI, or use a MicroSD card to read camera data. But even so, USB-C would be so much nicer.

Sure: you may have all those Lightning accessories you may need to replace. Who cares? Unlike the 30-pin to Lightning evolution, which involved two waves of proprietary ports and accessories, USB-C skips all that. And, again, here’s the great news: Apple has already made the move. Or, made the move partway. 

Maybe the iPhone 12 won’t get USB-C. But if that’s the case, it should come the year after. Don’t skip it. Don’t go portless, and fuse the whole thing into one port-free slab like everyone is anticipating. No, please. If the iPhone is an everyday computer, it would be extremely helpful for it to get an everyday port, too. Just one small one.

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