Forget the iPhone 12: Apple has a radical new iPhone coming

(Image credit: Ben Geskin/Smazizg)

The iPhone 12 is supposed to deliver a smaller notch and other design tweaks, but a new iPhone for 2021 could be radically different, according to a new leak. In fact, this iPhone could be Apple's first totally portless smartphone.

That's right. No more Lightning port. And that would mean no USB-C port either. But this mystery device may not be the iPhone 13.

Despite international pressure for Apple to ditch its Lightning port for USB-C charging, it seems the company would rather have no port than make the switch. "Never USB-C," tech tipster Jon Prosser said on Twitter, backing up previous reports that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature one portless model. 

"One portless iPhone coming next year," Prosser said. "Eventually, they'll all be portless."

But will it be the iPhone 13 or another iPhone altogether? In a follow-up conversation with Forbes, Prosser says that the portless iPhone may not be a flagship device and that Apple may instead opt for a cheaper model. So it could be the rumored iPhone SE Plus

The iPhone SE Plus is rumored to launch during the second half of 2021 and have a screen size between 5.5 and 6.1 inches. This same phone may also have a Touch ID sensor built into the display.

And while this phone would technically not have a port, Prosser says that the phone will have an Apple Smart Connector, similar to the iPad Pro. This connector would allow for dock charging and presumably for connecting other accessories.

Prosser, who has provided us with quite a few recent iPhone 12, AirPods Studio and Apple Watch 6 leaks, also has insight on Apple's plans for 2021's products.

A smartphone without ports has been proposed and conceptualized several times, but major manufactures have yet to bring one to life. Apple has clung onto its proprietary Lightning port rather than move on to USB-C for user convenience. 

But in January, the European Union voted in favor of a universal charging standard. The details and implementation of the decision haven't materialized yet, and it seems Apple isn't waiting around for that to happen.

The return of AirPower?

Although the portless iPhone would presumably offer wired charging capability through its Smart Connector, Apple may be doubling down on wireless charging for its future designs.

For example, the once-aborted AirPower wireless charging pad is potentially coming back from the dead, which would allow users to charge multiple devices at once.

However, to make a portless iPhone compelling, Apple would need to deliver wireless charing that's as fast or faster than wired charging. Right now the iPhone 11 can supports only 7.5 watts for wireless charging. But wired charging is 18 watts. 

It seems to make the most sense for Apple to unveil AirPower in its final form alongside the a portless iPhone, marketing the two as the picture of the cord-free future.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.