iPhone 15 Pro tipped for Thunderbolt 3 support — what it means for you

iPhone 15 Pro CAD render camera bump and buttons
(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

If the rumors of the iPhone 15 Pro gaining a USB-C port weren't enough, then pay attention to the latest rumor from leaker Analyst 941, who claims the next-gen pro iPhones will support Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

Thunderbolt 3 is normally found on desktop and laptop computers, and can transfer data at up to 40 gigabits per second while also handling power and video at the same time. For comparison, Apple's Lightning connector, used on iPhones for the past decade, uses USB 2.0, a 20-year-old standard that has a 0.48 gigabits per second data speed cap, which is magnitudes slower.

Beyond being much faster, and using the industry standard USB-C connector as rumored, the iPhone 15 Pro will also apparently be able to take further advantage of Thunderbolt 3 thanks to upcoming features in iOS 17. One of these, named by 941, is live 4K video output to an external monitor, which will apparently allow you to view what you're recording on an iPhone on a bigger display without the camera controls in the way.

Many Pro iPhone features still have uses even for regular users, like the telephoto camera, 120Hz ProMotion display. Others are aimed more at enthusiasts, such as ProRAW photo and ProRes video formats, or Cinematic Mode recording. This video output feature however sounds like one of the most pro-spec features ever to appear on an iPhone. It's little surprise that 941 calls the feature "niche."

More potential benefits than you'd think 

iPhone 14 Pro on left and USB-C and Lightning cables on the right

(Image credit: Future and Shutterstock)

A faster connector on your iPhone is still something nearly any user would be able to appreciate, even if they didn't use this alleged video feature. Anybody who needs to trade files between their phone and another device would appreciate the enhanced speed of the Thunderbolt, for instance.

Being able to show your iPhone's display on a larger screen could have implications in other areas beyond video recording too. If Apple or its allied developers were to introduce iOS apps designed to work on bigger displays, and could add full support for Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, the iPhone could become an amazing pocket-sized productivity tool. 

We've seen similar smartphone features in the past with Samsung's DeX and Motorola's ReadyFor, which have a mixed record. But Apple already offers extended display support on its iPad Pro and iPad Air, along with Stage Manager for improved app management over multiple screens. Perhaps we could see some of the iPad's productivity features trickle down to the iPhone to make the most of the new speedy port.

If you're still not sold on the benefits of a Thunderbolt USB-C port, then perhaps other tipped upgrades to the iPhone 15 range, like a comfier-looking curved design, a stronger telephoto camera and a powerful but efficient 3-nanometer chipset, will. Whatever Apple does have for us though, we'll probably be waiting until September to see it. At least we'll probably learn about the upcoming software features in iOS 17 earlier at June's WWDC 2023 though. 

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.