It was inevitable, really, but following the EU’s legislation requiring USB-C to become the common charging standard, Apple has now confirmed that it will comply with the law, and switch from Lightning to USB-C on future iPhones.
Greg Joswiak (Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing) said as much in a Wall Street Journal video interview , confirming that “obviously, we’ll have to comply.”
Joswiak didn’t say exactly when that change will occur, as the law doesn’t come into play until 2024, so it’s possible that the iPhone 15 will still have Lightning, but equally Apple might not wait around to make the inevitable switch, and, indeed, it’s been rumored that the iPhone 15 will use USB-C when it arrives next year.
oswiak also wouldn’t be drawn on whether this change will apply globally or just in Europe, so there’s still some uncertainty.
It’s clear from the interview though that this isn’t a change the company is keen to make. Despite having switched to USB-C for iPads and Macs, Joswiak noted that moving iPhones to USB-C will create a lot of e-waste, since the billions of Lightning cables around the world will no longer be useable with future products.
He believes that by making the cables removable from the power brick (so that you can connect the cable of your choice to the brick), Apple had struck a good balance that doesn’t inconvenience customers, and that this forced move to USB-C isn’t the best thing for most of its customers.
He also pointed out that governments tried to standardize micro-USB connectors in the past, and that if that had happened there would have likely been no Lightning cable or USB-C – both of which are superior to micro-USB.
All of which are reasonable points, but with Apple’s move to USB-C on other products, the growing popularity of wireless charging, and rumors of a portless iPhone, it seems like Lightning’s days were probably numbered with or without the EU’s interference.
Analysis: expect USB-C globally
While Joswiak wouldn’t say whether future iPhones will also switch to USB-C in the US and other regions outside the EU, it seems very likely that they will.
His point about e-waste might mean we still see Lightning elsewhere, in order to minimize the number of unusable Lightning cables, but developing and producing iPhones with different ports for different regions seems like it would create a level of cost and hassle that could be avoided with a global change.
Plus, as noted above, the days of Lightning ports are probably numbered anyway. E-waste aside, Joswiak’s issues seem to primarily be about the standardization of USB-C, rather than at the iPhone having a USB-C port. So before long all of the best phones will likely have the same charging port.