Future iPhones may see a significant change, and it isn’t one that Apple wants. The European Union has announced plans to require smartphone manufacturers to include a USB-C port on their devices, ensuring that all phone users have access to a universal smartphone charger.
These plans aren’t set in stone, so they could be scrapped at any time. Apple and other companies currently have 24 months to implement the changes, so the iPhone 14 won’t be affected, but the iPhone 15 will.
We’re focusing on Apple because almost every other smartphone manufacturer uses USB-C, as do many other manufacturers of cameras, tablets, and handheld consoles, all of which are affected by the proposal.
Apple, which has relied on the Lightning port since 2012, is understandably irritated at the prospect of having to make a change.
Having a single charger type for all portable devices, however, has obvious advantages. One cable can charge everything, and there’s less chance that charging ports on new models will be changed, rendering your old cables useless (though USB-C isn’t going away anytime soon).
Apple may adopt USB-C as a standard
This is the most noticeable change. If the European Union mandates that the iPhone charging port be USB-C, Apple will be forced to make the switch, whether it wants to or not. And since Apple has already made the switch to USB-C on many of its iPad models, making the same switch on its phones shouldn’t be too difficult.
Given that the EU only has influence over how things are done in its member states, it’s possible that Apple will release two different iPhones in the future: one with a USB-C port for the EU, and one with Lightning for the rest of the world. However, this is likely to raise its production costs, and we believe that if it has to switch for some regions, it will most likely switch for everyone.
The iPhone may become portless
One way to get across the need for a USB-C port is to eliminate the charging port entirely. We’ve heard rumors that future iPhones may have a portless design, so it’s possible that Apple is working on it already.
It would necessitate using wireless charging, which the iPhone already does, and which, with MagSafe on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, is arguably better than wireless charging on most other phones because it makes it easier to align the chargers.
Apple’s wireless charging isn’t particularly fast right now, either when compared to rival devices or when compared to wired charging speeds, so that’s something the company should improve if it does plan to go portless. Professionals would also need a convenient way to transfer large amounts of data and files without having to plug in the phone, and there is currently no viable alternative to wires for this.
Two ports could be likely
Another possibility is that future iPhones will have both a USB-C and a Lightning port.
According to the Associated Press, Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, has specifically stated as much, saying, “If Apple wants to continue to have their own plug, they will have the ability to do it.” It’s not against innovation; it’s just to make our fellow citizens’ lives a little bit easier,” he said, implying that Apple and others could still include two ports on their phones if they wanted to.
You could consider this the best of both worlds, as it allows people to use whichever port they prefer. However, the amount of space and money required to do so would likely make it an unappealing option, so we believe this is the least likely path Apple will take.