This iPhone 13 rumor made me upgrade to the iPhone 12

The iPhone 13 could look like these iPhone 12's, and lack the one thing you can't see here
(Image credit: Future)

I was OK waiting for the iPhone 13. Expected this fall (in either September or October), Apple's next iPhone made more sense for me than buying a new iPhone. I'd just bought the iPhone 11 Pro Max in 2019, did I need another upgrade this soon?

Or at least that was my opinion until a certain persistent rumor kept bubbling up to the surface. That rumor? That at least one 2021 iPhone won't have a charging port of any kind.

We've reported on the rumored death of the Lightning port, as it's been rumored by everyone from the widely respected Ming-Chi Kuo to Jon Prosser. Heck, reporting on Apple's want to remove the port goes back to the iPhone X, as the reliable Mark Gurman reported for Bloomberg that Apple wanted to remove the port for the 2017 phone.

But during a moment last week when I was particularly susceptible to retail therapy, I saw the rumor again. And this time, it was in video, on my TV. YouTuber Rene Ritchie's "Portless iPhone 13" video landed in the home screen of my YouTube app, and it was as convincing as any. And it got me worried about what would happen if Apple did indeed take out the Lightning port. 

Ritchie built on MKBHD's logic about Apple taking away features by saying it's solved an issue and justifying their decision to remove a feature. It happened with the home button (for bigger screen space) and replaced it with the convenience of Face ID. It happened again with the headphone jack, so you could have more water resistance — and the success of AirPods and AirPods Pro shows that Apple had a hunch about what people wanted. 

Of course, we can explain why they might want to eliminate the Lightning port. It's a point of ingress for water, and that can lead to corrosion. Removing it would open Apple up to a larger battery inside, or do something else. As Gurman told MKBHD, that space could be used for an in-screen fingerprint reader.

But that was all known. And then Ritchie added two words: "underwater photography." That you'd get even more water resistance, and that Apple's camera gurus solved the computational tricks for taking photos under water.

And that's when I started looking at the iPhone 12

I'm not ready for a post-charging port iPhone. Why? For starters, it would likely be slower than wired charging. The new MagSafe charging added recently is a neat alternative to wired charging, but wow it's really slow

And secondly, and more importantly, is that I rely on some of the best portable chargers — and I don't want to buy new ones. I've got a charger in every bag I own, so I've always got a way to refuel if I forgot to plug my iPhone in when I went to bed the previous night. 

This is why I don't want the charging port (and Apple seems dead set against bringing USB-C to the iPhone) to go away. What, is Apple going to give away MagSafe-to-Lightning adapters? 

I can already see Anker and other companies selling MagSafe power chargers, which would conveniently snap onto the back of your phone, like its existing wallet attachment. It makes sense, taking the cords out of the equation when you're using an iPhone at the same time as it's drawing power from a portable charger. But that's asking you to throw away accessories and buy new ones — which clashes with the recent messaging from Apple, when it announced it would remove the power adapter from the iPhone 12 box to reduce waste.

So I bought the iPhone 12 Pro Max

Even though I know the iPhone 12 Pro Max would go down in price this fall, I ordered it once I was done processing the above thoughts.

Why? Partially, it's because I want better photos and retail therapy is real. But the big reason why I didn't want to wait is because if I'm going to be using it for a while, I'd rather get used to its larger 6.7-inch size today, than this fall.

I don't think I can wait Apple out, that it might bring charging ports back some day. It's not like the new rumor of a MacBook Pro with MagSafe and no Touch Bar (though I do feel vindicated waiting to buy a new MacBook until they got rid of the "butterfly"-switch design). Instead, I want to wait out the iPhone 13 and later, through to the point where the market for third-party accessories have adapted to this no-port iPhone. 

And since I'm on the iPhone Upgrade program, continuing to pay monthly amounts for a better phone today feels like a better plan than replacing a ton of accessories in the future. Plus, I've got it easy. I feel bad for folks with Lightning-based CarPlay connectivity, as some cars don't allow wireless CarPlay yet. Apple's change, if the rumors come true, will have a wide ripple effect throughout the industry.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • jeffdanger
    admin said:
    A major change reportedly coming to the iPhone 13 would have a giant ripple effect on charging and accessories alike.

    This iPhone 13 rumor made me upgrade to the iPhone 12 : Read more
    Not to mention a cable is required on my Honda CRV to use Apple carplay. Not have a cable would make carplay useless as it doesn't connect via bluetooth.
  • Harry Devlin
    Highly unlikely that the Lightning port would disappear and not at least be replaced by a USB-C port. As another commenter noted, for CarPlay you often need to use a cable (ditto for Android Auto on Android phones). There are a lot of other usage models that also still benefit from having a physical interface port. Also, using the phone during wireless charging is not easy.

    It is true that there could be accessories that have a wireless charging coil and a USB-C plug. In fact the opposite accessory, a case with a Lightning plug and charging coil is available for older iPhones that lack wireless charging. But that would not solve the CarPlay issue.

    The iPhone 13 is likely to have significant, highly desirable, new features, including an under-screen fingerprint reader, 120 Hz display, much better cameras, reverse wireless charging, vapor chamber cooling, and a much smaller notch, all of which have already been deployed on flagship Android phones. All at a time when Samsung has begun to decontent their Galaxy S line, removing some of the features that made it stand out from the iPhone (MicroSD card slot and Magnetic Secure Technology with Samsung Pay).

    We also don't know what kind of deal Apple has with Qualcomm regarding 5G modems. Could be that the A15 Bionic follows the example of the Snapdragon 888 and integrates the Qualcomm X60 5G modem, saving space inside the phone and allowing for a larger battery.

    Apple may have removed a lot of useful features in the past, but removing the only remaining port would be a step too far.

    And of course, if the iPhone 13 did remove the Lightning port, the original author could buy an iPhone 12 at that time, and it would be even cheaper.
  • KMG9150
    The reason they are doing this is because the coalition of nations are wanting to have a single universal port so that there is indeed less waste. My personal thoughts are that usb-c and well all of them are poorly designed.... You have a male plug with a female hole that plugs into a female hole with a male plug inside that.. OMG who thought of such a design.... Now lightning is the way to go.... Male into female..... My lady's iPhone charges on a 1amp 5v charger just as fast as my 60w 6 amp(or whatever it is) warp charging oneplus 7T.

    Apple should simply convince the USB-ers to switch to lightning and then sell the parts and collect royalties. Because let's face it, the under water camera feature isnt really that much of one at all... They have cases for that besides once the warranty claims start coming in theyll be either replacing a bunch of phones or making excuses on not to....because let's be real, there is a lot of movement and pressure from people carrying their phones in there backpockets and it's bound to loosen up somewhere(IPhone 7 bending..... )