For most phone companies, the EU’s decision to mandate USB-C chargers doesn’t matter, because they've already been doing it for years. But Apple is not so fortunate, thanks to years of sticking to its own proprietary charging connections, before slowly moving to USB-C over the past few years, though sticking with Lightning for its iPhones and AIrPods.
During the latest instalment of his ‘Power On’ newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims those days could soon be over, noting that Apple is going to switch ports on various accessories from 2024. That’s on top of existing rumors, which claim the iPhone 15 will be the first Apple phone to offer USB-C instead of Lightning. That’s expected to arrive in fall 2023.
Gurman also notes that there’s only a single iPad model without USB-C, and that’s expected to arrive before the year’s end. That would leave devices like the AirPods, Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad lacking USB-C.
Gurman believes Apple is going to update those products sooner, rather than later, and that the USB-C switchover should be done by 2024. Gurman also suggests that, since there are rumors of updated Macs arriving in 2023, it would be the ideal time for Apple to introduce refreshed accessories with USB-C.
However, Gurman notes that the new EU rules only apply to new devices. So anything that launches before the end of 2024 could, in theory, still come with Lightning. But he doesn’t consider it likely, and posits that Apple would prefer to maintain the narrative that it’s switching to USB-C of its own volition.
Interestingly, Gurman believes USB-C is little more than a stop-gap, and that Apple is pursuing a future where all devices are wireless. To the point where the era of the USB-C might be significantly shorter than Lightning or the 30-pin iPod connection — both of which were around for over a decade.
The idea of a “portless iPhone” has been rumored for a number of years now. The idea is that the phone will be able to ditch the Lightning by offering better wireless data transfer and faster inductive charging — likely from some form of MagSafe. It’s been noted at several points that such a phone would likely be able to bypass the EU’s USB-C mandate.
Previous reports suggested Apple was hoping to skip USB-C altogether, and jump from Lightning to port-less. It’s not clear whether that ever was the plan, or if there were some delays to it being implemented. Either way it sounds like USB-C will be filling the gap across Apple’s product line-up.
We’re going to have to wait and see how that plays out, though. In the meantime it sounds like Apple could be fully embracing USB-C for the foreseeable future. But judging from its vocal opposition to EU legislation, it doesn’t seem particularly happy about being given a deadline.