Update: Apple may be forced to use USB-C on iPhone by 2024.
Lightning's days as the iPhone's charging port may be numbered. According to a report from Bloomberg (opens in new tab), Apple is internally testing future iPhone models with USB-C ports that will replace the current Lightning port.
The change would be coming too late for this fall's iPhone 14, which is all but certain to ship with a Lightning port. Some rumors had teased a possible switch to USB-C this year for the iPhone 14 Pro, but subsequently rumors have squelched that possibility.
The new report follows a tweet from earlier this week by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (opens in new tab), who also claimed that Apple is preparing to add USB-C support to iPhones in 2023. But there's now a new detail — Apple is also working on a new adapter that “would let future iPhones work with accessories designed for the current Lightning connector,” Bloomberg said.
Moving to USB-C will streamline Apple’s set of chargers for its various devices. Apple has moved its iPad lineup from Lightning to USB-C and MacBooks have been using USB-C for the past 5 years.
But Apple has another reason to make the shift away from Lightning. Pressure from Europe regulators could be behind Apple's future shift to USB-C, as the EU has been pushing companies to make USB-C a standard on portable devices.
USB-C will help in charging speeds and data transfers, but could cause confusion on whether the type C chargers will be compatible with non-Apple devices as well.
The Lightning port launched with the iPhone 5 in 2012 and has been Apple’s proprietary connector ever since. There are still some Apple products besides the iPhone that use the Lightning port, including AirPods, the MagSafe Duo charger and Apple TV's remote. But Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the AirPods and Apple accessories will ditch Lightning for USB-C in 2023.
We don't yet know if Apple will make people shell out more for the rumored USB-C charger or include it in the box with the iPhone 15 lineup. The report claim that it is possible that Apple announces this change for EU users but keeps the Lightning port on other devices outside Europe. But that would probably only cause even more confusion, not to mention manufacturing headaches.
If Apple rolls out the USB-C in its 2023 iPhones, it would be a big deal. It has been more than 10 years since the phone industry moved towards a standardized charging port, with Apple as one of the remaining holdouts. It has long been speculated that Apple would eventually switch the iPhone to USB-C, and now it's looking increasingly like that will come to pass.