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Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro might finally ditch Lightning for USB-C charging

Updated 10 months ago
Published Nov 19th, 2021 6:11PM EST
iPhone 13 Pro Lightning Port
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

The iPhone USB-C rumors never die, and that’s because people have not stopped fantasizing about such a device. Just a few days ago, we saw an iPhone fan took matters into his own hands to create the world’s first USB-C iPhone X. The device went viral online, selling for more than $80,000 on eBay, showing that people care about such devices.

And if a new rumor is to be believed, Apple is actively looking into adding the USB-C port to next year’s iPhone 14 Pro models. As wild as it might sound, this time might be different. And it might be Apple’s own actions that might force the company to drop Lightning from the iPhone.

The iPhone 14 Pro USB-C rumor

iPhone 14 Pro new notch design concept
iPhone 14 Pro new notch design concept: Phone’s front and back. Image source: the Hacker 34 / YouTube

A leaker named LeaksApplePro writes for iDropNews that Apple is considering the USB-C port for the iPhone 14. But if it were to happen, only the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max would get it.

At first sight, this seems like the usual iPhone USB-C rumor that appears with some regularity. We saw it happen for previous iPhone generations. And the rumor will resurface next year in case the iPhone 14 Pro sticks with a Lightning port.

Apple swapping the Lightning port with USB-C on an increasing number of iPads also helps fuel iPhone USB-C rumors. It started with the iPad Pro, which made sense because these are laptop replacements. We then saw Apple bring USB-C to the iPad Air 4 last year. And this year’s iPad mini 6 tablet got its own USB-C port.

This does signal that Apple could equip all iOS and iPadOS devices with USB-C ports if it wanted to.

However, all those iPhone USB-C reports butted heads with a different lingering rumor. Apple is developing a portless iPhone. As we get closer to such a device, it makes less and less sense to see Lightning replaced with USB-C.

But what if this time is different? The case for USB-C in the Phone 14 Pro versions might be stronger than ever.

iPhone 13 Pro Camera
iPhone 13 Pro Camera Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Why the switch to USB-C makes sense

While we have no way of verifying this rumor, the leaker provides three reasons why the switch to USB-C might be imminent for the iPhone. They come from sources familiar with the matter, but anyone with knowledge of Apple’s iPhone business could come up with them.

In short, it’s about transfer speeds, legal issues, and the environment.

Superior data speeds

Apple introduced support for ProRes video with the iPhone 13. But that format consumes a lot of storage. That’s why the new iPhones offer more storage than ever.

The leaker points out that a minute of 4K ProRes video consumes 6GB of storage. Shooting two hours of video on an iPhone would then consume 720GB of storage. You would need a 1TB iPhone 13 Pro to make it happen, but it’s possible. Will anyone shoot that much video on a smartphone?

Well, Apple has made a point of its video recording tech with each iPhone generation. The iPhone 13 series is the culmination of all that. Most people might not care about ProRes video, but Apple has the format ready for professionals. And people who record lots of videos will want to transfer them to a computer for post-processing.

With Lightning (USB 2.0), you need 3 hours and 45 minutes to transfer the 720GB file, the leaker writes. USB-C (USB 4.0) gets the job done in 2 minutes and 38 seconds.

Interestingly, a rumor said a few days ago that iPhone 14 phones would get Wi-Fi 6E support. And Apple could debut additional upgrades to AirDrop technology to make possible large data transfers between devices. This is a key piece of technology for the future iPhone with no ports. But people might still prefer a redundancy like USB-C while that super-fast wireless protocol is perfected.

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

Pressure from regulators

The EU wants to force handset makers to adopt a common charging standard for all devices. Given that Android makers have already moved to USB-C, the move primarily concerns Apple. The iPhone is the only smartphone with a proprietary charging port right now.

Even if the EU does decide to force Apple to ditch Lightning, it could be a few years until Apple would have to comply. Apple could always develop a portless iPhone by then. But the report notes that adding USB-C to the iPhone 14 Pros will buy Apple some goodwill. Apple could avoid further scrutiny on the USB-C front by pointing out that it’s transitioning to USB-C. The leaker says that the cheaper iPhones could get USB-C ports in 2023.

Also important here is that Apple is facing additional pressure from regulators for its App Store policies. USB-C on iPhone could help it prevent another legal fight that it doesn’t need.

The environment

As the data transfer argument, the environment is another self-inflicted problem. Apple wants its products and manufacturing to be as eco-friendly as possible. Last year, the company made a big deal about removing the charger from the iPhone box, as it helps the environment.

Moving the iPhone 14 Pro to USB-C would help Apple argue in the future that it doesn’t have to ship charging cables with the handset. Most people already own USB-C cables for other devices. They would work with the iPhone as well.

Again, this is just speculation based on an early iPhone 14 Pro rumor. We’ll have to wait several more months to see whether other leakers corroborate these claims.

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 closely follows the events in 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.