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First portless iPhone might launch soon – here’s how it’ll work

Updated Apr 21st, 2022 9:31AM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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One of the iPhone rumors that we keep seeing over and over is the eventual release of a portless iPhone. It’ll be a device without a Lightning connector on the bottom, and Apple will pull off a completely wireless experience for the handset. Like clockwork, we now have a new rumor about the portless iPhone design of the future. And that future might be closer than you think, as the latest report tells us how the portless iPhone might operate. Before you ask, the iPhone 14 isn’t going to be portless.

Apple has been developing the technology needed to make a portless iPhone for several years. It’s part of what we call the “perfect” iPhone design, a handset without any notches or holes, and a chassis that features no ports or buttons.

Is the iPhone 14 portless?

The main advantage of a portless iPhone is that it would allow Apple to seal the handset completely. The iPhone could move from being water-resistant to being fully waterproof. But a portless iPhone would still have to support two of the three features associated with the Lightning port.

Apple’s proprietary port will live on the iPhone 14 series, a leaker said in a new report. Apple apparently wants to keep its Lightning-related revenue stream alive for as long as possible. The same report noted that the iPhone 14 Pro models will receive faster data transfer speeds over Lightning. And that Apple will keep the port in place until it’s ready to move to a portless phone.

Data transfer is one thing the Lightning port handles. It also lets you use wired earphones with the iPhone. But the most important Lightning feature is battery charging.

Apple iPhone 13 Software
Apple iPhone 13 apps. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Apple’s alternate technology

Going portless means Apple will need alternates for those three Lightning features. One of them has been here since the iPhone 7 arrived. Apple introduced wireless earphones, and the AirPods were so popular that they transformed the industry. And there are of course countless Bluetooth headphone alternatives. But a portless iPhone would lose support for wired headphones, which some people still rely on.

The iPhone 8 introduced support for wireless charging, and Apple upgraded the functionality with the iPhone 12. The 2020 handset added magnetic wireless charging to the roster of iPhone features, increasing wireless charging speeds in the process. MagSafe supports 15W compared to 20W Lightning charging, but speeds might always increase. The point is that MagSafe can take care of charging on a portless iPhone.

The last thing that Apple has to address is data transfers. The Lightning port comes in handy for backups and moving other files. And customers will still need to move data from a portless iPhone to a computer.
Rumors said that Apple is working on a new short-range wireless data transfer technology to support faster transfer speeds.

Then there’s the growing support of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, which should improve wireless speeds between devices. Not to mention that rumors say Apple wants to harness the latter to wirelessly link its upcoming mixed reality device to other gadgets.

iPhone 14 Pro 3D Renders
iPhone 14 Pro 3D renders Image source: Technizo Concept and LetsGoDigital

How the portless iPhone might work

A new rumor says that Apple wants to use the MagSafe connector to transfer data on a portless iPhone. LeaksApplePro mentioned the portless iPhone technology in a post detailing the iPhone 14 Pro’s purported USB 3.0 Lightning speeds.

The leaker says Apple plans to move data over MagSafe in the future. Once that’s possible, it will launch the first portless iPhone.

Engineers are looking to achieve “decent transfer speeds” over MagSafe, although it’s unclear what that means. Also, a magnetic connection might not suffice. MagSafe would likely have to feature a smart connector of some sort that would handle the data transfers, like the iPad Pro.

The report claims that using MagSafe to move data between iPhone and Mac or iPad isn’t a problem. However, Apple needs to make the same thing possible on Windows and Linux computers. Apple is reportedly investing a lot of time and resources in this endeavor.

With that in mind, the leaker says the iPhone 16 Pro might be the first portless iPhone in Apple’s lineup. Time will tell whether or not these predictions come true.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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