Apple will release iPhone with zero ports in 2021 (report)

(Image credit: PhoneArena)

The iPhone 13 may not have any ports at all. No Lightning. No USB-C. No kidding. If the report by the most reputed Apple analyst in the world is true, it will be completely wireless.

According to a note for investors by reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo obtained by MacRumors, the iPhone 13 Pro Max would offer a 100% no-cable experience.

Wireless charging needs to be fast

According to Kuo, the phone will be charged using a wireless power mat. Given the need for speed to load the large batteries on over-sized phones, they will probably need to up their game. 

Right now, the fastest available wireless charging is the Xiaomi's 30W Mi Charge Turbo, which is included in the Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro 5G. Apple will have to gun to that speed in order for the phone to juice up quickly. Otherwise it will be a hard-to-swallow experience for many, especially when they are in a hurry.

Talking about people in a hurry and with batteries running out, it’s yet to be seen how users will adapt to the lack of charging port when they are on the go. Would they need to carry a wireless power mat at all times just in case they run out of power? It’s easy to carry a small power cable or ask to borrow one, but you can’t hardly find any power mats in the wild — although given Apple’s clout, that may change soon if they finally go for this zero-port experience.

Bye bye, Earpods, hello AirPods

For the sound, Apple will continue to use Bluetooth Audio like it has done until now. However, without a port there will be no chance to use any USB-C or Lightning headphones like the Apple Earpods that come with the iPhone 11 line now.

It’s also logical to expect Apple to include the basic AirPods with this alleged iPhone 13 Pro Max. This aligns with a recent rumor that said that Apple would include AirPods in the iPhone 12. It may be that the rumor got its date wrong and that only one model will come with the iconic wireless earbuds the following year (or the rumor may be just random crap, as we suspect).

It seems unreasonable to expect people to buy wireless earbuds separately, so it makes sense that Apple would include them in its top-of-the-line offering if it really has no ports.

Wi-Fi and 5G

We will also have to say good bye to any physical connectivity with computers, cameras, card readers or any other Lightning or USB-C device. Data transfer and synchronization with Macs would happen exclusively through Wi-Fi as well as 5G and the Cloud.

I can’t remember the last time I used a cable with any phone. Maybe it was the iPhone 4 days, to synchronize with iTunes. I won’t miss it but I know some users will for sure.

Apple likes to eliminate ports

Everyone thought that Apple would follow the iPad Pro’s trail and adopt USB-C for the next generation of iPhones. Maybe that‘s still true for the five rumored iPhones coming in 2020.

If Kuo is right, the iPhone 13 Pro Max wouldn’t be the first phone without ports. At the beginning of 2019 we saw two experimental models coming from China. One was the $1,300 Meizu Zero, which didn’t have any ports or buttons. The other was the Apex 2019, made by Vivo — a company well known for introducing radical design elements like pop-up cameras. However, these weren’t widely available (if at all).

If the iPhone 13 Pro Max is truly wireless, it will be the first commercial phone in that category (unless Xiaomi, Samsung or Huawei jump into that ship before 2021, something that's not crazy). 

The transition to a wireless world is not out of line with Apple‘s history, which has been a trailblazer when it comes to simplifying expansion options in its machines. The company has been killing ports left right and center since Steve Jobs returned to the company. When the iMac was introduced in 1998, Apple surprised everyone because it eliminated most of the Mac’s legacy ports — from serial to ABD — in favor of USB, an Intel standard that PC companies weren’t adopting until Apple put it in the widely successful computer. 

It’s a move that was repeated again and again in the name of simplification, ease of use, and cost cutting. The last time was when the popular MacBook line migrated completely to USB-C — even for the charging. That move didn’t leave anyone indifferent and while some people loved it, others truly hated it.

We will see what happens if the iPhone 13 Pro Max goes 100% wireless. I would actually applaud the move myself — as long as they figure out the charging speed and fix their awful iCloud.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.