The iPhone 13 reportedly won’t embrace USB-C — and it gets worse

iPhone 13/iPhone 12S concept
(Image credit: Jermaine Smit/LetsGoDigital)

Update: A new rumor claims the iPhone 14 Pro will come with USB-C connectivity

Some of the most rumored iPhone 13 changes are starting to look like they might miss Apple's next smartphone.

According to a new report by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (seen by AppleInsider), we should no longer expect Touch ID, USB-C connectivity or a portless design on the iPhone 13. This could paint a picture of the next iPhone being an iterative upgrade over the iPhone 12

While we've come to accept that iPhones use their own proprietary Lightning connector, swapping them for USB-C would still make charging the phone more convenient, given how prolific USB-C chargers are now. 

And we've seen Apple make the move to USB-C with the likes of the iPad Pro, though the iPhone range sticks firmly to Lightning posts. 

Apparently, the reasons cited for the iPhone 13 not moving away from the Lightning port are twofold. Moving to the common USB-C connector would lose Apple the licensing fees it gets from 'Made For iPhone' peripherals using the Lightning connector. It would also make iPhones less water-resistant since Lightning ports are apparently more secure against intrusion from water compared to USB-C.

We won't be stuck with Lightning ports forever though. As we've heard before, Apple will eventually move the iPhone to exclusively MagSafe wireless charging, although it will happen after the iPhone 13, despite rumors that this year's model would be portless.

As Kuo wrote: "At present, the MagSafe ecosystem is not mature enough, so the iPhone will continue to use the Lightning port in the foreseeable future." 

Don't expect Touch ID in the iPhone 13

iPhone with Touch ID

(Image credit: Redmond Pie)

What's worse is that Kuo also poured cold water on another smoldering rumor: the reintroduction of Touch ID. 

We had hoped for a new Touch ID sensor either in line with the one found on the iPad Air's power button, or a new under-display version similar to those found on many Android flagship phones. But Kuo said this isn't Apple's plan.

"We believe that the iPhone will significantly improve the user experience if it adopts the power button with the Touch ID sensor. However, currently, there is no visibility on the timing of adopting this new specification," explained Kuo. 

The iPhone 13 (or iPhone 12S as it may be called) is still tipped to bring with it some decent upgrades. Some of the other new features rumored for it are dynamic 120Hz displays, a 1TB storage option and better camera sensors and zoom capabilities. This could make the likes of the already impressive iPhone 12 Pro even better. 

Going by previous iPhone releases, we can expect the iPhone 13 to arrive around September this year. 

Given Apple is consistent at producing impressive if arguably not hugely innovative smartphones of late, we can forecast that the iPhone 13 has a shot at becoming a high-ranking member of our best phones list. However, it won't stop us from wishing Apple had given us a few more headline improvements like Touch ID or USB-C.

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.

  • Harry Devlin
    Not moving to USB-C is understandable given the revenue Apple receives from MFi. It's definitely an annoyance but it's not a deal-breaker.

    Not bringing back TouchID is a much bigger issue. Even pre-pandemic FaceID was pain in countries where mask wearing was common due to the flu or due to air pollution. With the pandemic, FaceID is intolerable and there will likely be mask wearing well into 2023, and of course there could always be another pandemic down the road.

    Apple appears to be doubling down on a bad decision. Hopefully there will be a larger version of the 2020 SE with TouchID for those of us that will never buy a phone without a fingerprint sensor.

    3D optical TouchID would not displace FaceID it would augment it. Having dual biometrics would open up new use cases for the iPhone.