The iPhone 12 won’t fix the worst thing about iPhones

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The iPhone 12 promises lots of welcome upgrades, from 5G connectivity and a fast new A14 Bionic processor to improved cameras and a sleeker retro design. And it looks like there should be plenty of choice, with a rumored four iPhone 12 models appearing at Apple’s Oct. 13 event.

But there’s one thing the iPhone 12 won’t fix, based on all of the rumors and leaks I’ve seen — the Lightning connector will still be there. And that’s one of the worst things about iPhones.

You may have already heard the rumors that Apple may not include a charger in the box with the iPhone 12, which is annoying. However, the company believes this move will cut down on electronic waste, and it has already ditched the charger on the Apple Watch 6.

What you should get is a USB-C to Lightning cable, one that may be braided and a bit more durable than before. Reports point to the iPhone 12 lineup offering 20W fast charging this time around, but if the rumors are true you’ll have to spring for your own charger. And yet, that’s not my biggest issue.

By sticking with a Lightning connector, Apple is perpetuating a problem iPhone owners have had for years. After a while, Lightning connectors can stop charging the iPhone even when properly connected. I’ve experienced this issue on two iPhones in a row with the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

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I’ll have my iPhone plugged into an outlet near my nightstand and a slight wiggle of the cord will stop the charge. Sometimes I’ll wake up with an iPhone that’s nearly dead even though I thought it was plugged in. 

And I’m definitely not alone. There are articles on the web dating back to 2014 on “quick and easy fixes” for Lighting port charging problems. And there are several complaints on Apple’s forums for multiple iPhone models.

The iPhone 12 should really have a USB-C port. I have never experienced charging issues with any phone or laptop with a USB-C port. To coin a phrase, it just works. So why is Apple sticking to Lighting?

Apple makes money from accessories that leverage the Lightning port, such as headphones. But in the meantime, the iPad Pro, new iPad Air and MacBook Pros have all moved on to USB-C. And the iPhone should, too.

We’ve heard some rumors that Apple will be be offering a MagSafe-like wireless charging system for the iPhone 12 through new types of cases and wireless chargers. I like that idea, but it doesn't fix the Lightning problem. 

The iPhone 13 could go in a radical new direction and be completely portless, but that's an early rumor at this stage. I very much hope that Apple adopts USB-C and kills Lightning for ever, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for the iPhone 12.

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.