USB-C iPhone: The latest news and what to expect

A USB-C iPhone may have once seemed impossible, but the latest rumors suggest it’s actually coming sooner than you may think. Amid regulatory pushback and limitations of the Lightning connector, the first USB-C iPhone could be released as soon as 2023. Head below for the latest details on what we know so far.

Regulatory pressure

There are a number of reasons why Apple seems to have shifted its tune on releasing a USB-C iPhone. One thing that’s hard to overlook, however, is looming legislation around the world.

After multiple years of back and forth, the European Union officially reached an agreement for a “common charging port” standard. Starting in 2024, all smartphones sold within the 27 countries of the EU will be required to use USB-C for charging. This includes the iPhone and even peripheral accessories like AirPods.

Just a few weeks after the EU agreed on its legislation, lawmakers in the United States voiced their support. Many called on the US to pass something similar. Senator Elizabeth Warren renewed this call in a post on Twitter today, saying:

Consumers shouldn’t have to keep buying new chargers all the time for different devices. We can clear things up with uniform standards—for less expense, less hassle, and less waste.

In early October, the legislation in the EU was formally adopted following a full vote of the European Parliament. The law was passed with an overwhelming majority, with 602 votes in favor, 13 against, and 8 abstentions. Under the law, there are exemptions for products that are too small offer a USB-C port.

The legislation will next need to be approved by the European Council, then published in the EU Official Journal. Any products that went on sale prior to this will be exempt from the requirement, but it is expected to go into effect prior to the launch of the iPhone 16 in 2024.

Apple has pushed back against legislation that would make a USB-C iPhone mandatory. The company argues that such laws stifle innovation and actually lead to more environmental waste.

Will Apple release a USB-C iPhone?

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first predicted in 2019 that Apple would release a port-less iPhone as soon as 2021, but that didn’t come to fruition. It’s easy to see why – wireless technologies simply aren’t reliable or powerful enough to completely replace a connector like Lightning or USB-C. Charging speeds aren’t as fast, data transfer is slow and unreliable, and consumer adoption just isn’t there yet.

A port-less iPhone is still in the works and is something being internally tested at Apple, but we wouldn’t expect to see it launch to the public this year or next year.

The Lightning connector is also starting to show its age. When it was first unveiled in 2012 with the iPhone 5, Apple’s Phil Schiller touted that it would be the “modern connector for the next decade.” It’s been a decade since that announcement, and it’s clear that Lightning is falling behind USB-C in things like charging speeds and data transfer speeds.

Apple is rumored to boost Lightning data transfer rates to USB 3.0 starting with the iPhone 14 Pro this fall, but USB-C still leads way.

So that leads us to where we are today. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in May that the iPhone 15, coming in 2023, will feature a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. This report was eventually corroborated by Bloomberg, which also said that the iPhone 15 may switch to a USB-C port next year.

A USB-C iPhone is sure to make many consumers happy, particularly those who already own an iPad or Mac that also uses USB-C. That being said, with the sheer number of iPhone users, Apple will undoubtedly face criticism for changing the iPhone’s charging connector — even if a switch to USB-C is ultimately the right decision.

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