Will Apple’s Lightning Cable Become Obsolete if There is a USB-C iPhone? Not quite

Will Apple's Lightning Cable Become Obsolete if There is a USB-C iPhone? Not quite

Though Apple products are increasingly using USB-C, the Lightning cable continues to be crucial.

Last week, Apple did something incredibly unusual: it offered a specific hint about the iPhone’s future. Apple will abide by the European Union’s directive that all phones in the area adopt USB-C as the standard smartphone charging port by 2024, according to company executives, who also confirmed this. Future iPhones, most likely the iPhone 16 and possibly the iPhone 15, will therefore have to do without the Lightning connector that has been around since 2012.

Given the new requirements set forth by the EU, the iPhone’s switch to USB-C appears inevitable. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, asserted that the company has “no choice” but to “comply with local laws” as it does everywhere else. However, this does not necessarily imply that the Lightning cable is going extinct anytime soon. Due to the abundance of accessories that continue to use it and the popularity of older iPhones, the Lightning port may have a bigger impact on Apple’s lineup than you might anticipate.

It’s no secret that Apple devices are using USB-C more and more frequently. Except for the iPad from the ninth generation due out in 2021, it is available on every iPad in the company’s current lineup. Apple’s MacBook Pro and Air models both have USB-C ports.

But the USB-C port on the iPhone has been eagerly awaited by both consumers and tech reviewers. Even last year, a customized iPhone X with a USB-C connector sold for $86,001 on eBay. After all, why wouldn’t you want to charge your iPhone, iPad, and Mac with the same cord? The new EU directive is a step in the direction of longer-term charging convenience. However, there is a chance that consumers may switch between chargers during the transition period to charge both new iPhones and legacy accessories.

Apple's Lightning Cable Become Obsolete if There is a USB-C iPhone?

Apart from the iPhone, there are a few products that need a Lightning connection for cable charging. These include the AirPods earbuds, AirPods Max, the original Apple Pencil (curiously the only version that is compatible with the new iPad with USB-C), Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard. Therefore, owners of these devices might still need to switch cables if they later buy an iPhone with USB-C.When asked if it intended to keep the Lightning port in future iterations of these gadgets, Apple declined to comment.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that not every iPhone buyer chooses the most recent model. Once a new iPhone is released, Apple frequently lowers older models. Consider its current selection, which still contains the iPhone 13 from last year and the iPhone 12 from 2020. After releasing the iPhone 13 in September 2021, Apple continued to sell the iPhone 11 for $499. There may still be a few Lightning-powered iPhones in Apple’s 2023 lineup if the company follows tradition.

There is a sizable market for older iPhones even though many consumers may rush to buy the most recent model. Despite its 2019 launch, the iPhone 11 was the fifth most popular smartphone in 2021, according to Counterpoint Research. According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, sales of the iPhone 11, iPhone SE, and the 4-year-old iPhone XR made up 15% of US iPhone sales in the March 2022 quarter.

According to a different Counterpoint Research survey, refurbished iPhones are also popular, with Apple controlling more than 40% of the global market for second-hand phones. It’s safe to suggest that people acquiring refurbished phones in the future will want to hold on to their Lightning cables given that all iPhones manufactured since 2012 charge using Lightning.

Because consumers attempted to avoid paying excessive costs and make more responsible purchases in 2021, which led to a 15% increase in demand for used phones, Counterpoint reports that this is especially significant.

As inflation raises the cost of other daily expenses, people might be more likely to hang onto their current phones for longer. The International Data Corporation projects a 6.5% drop in global smartphone sales in 2022 as a result of weaker demand due to inflation.

Assurant, an insurance provider that also aids businesses in developing device trade-in programs, reports that the average age of cellphones that have been traded in has also surpassed three and a half years for the first time. There will be more widely available Lightning cables as more legacy iPhones continue to be used.

In the long run, iPhone owners will benefit from the switch to USB-C. The main purpose of the EU’s decision to make USB-C mandatory was to enable single-cable charging for the majority of modern iPads, Macs, and eventually iPhones.

The change occurs at the perfect time as Bluetooth accessories, improved wireless charging, and Apple’s new MagSafe connection system have all led to a decrease in the dependence of iPhones on wired connections.

However, these kinds of transformations take time. Additionally, there are still a lot of unanswered concerns regarding Apple’s ability to abide by the EU ruling. For instance, it’s unclear if Apple will move to USB-C in 2023 or wait until 2024. Whether Apple would employ USB-C exclusively for European iPhones or if it will become the norm worldwide is unknown.

However, it does appear like the introduction of a USB-C iPhone may be a step toward the use of a single universal connector for everything. However, it won’t happen immediately.