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.
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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 (opens in new tab) "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 (opens in new tab) 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.