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The iPhone 15 upgrade cycle won’t be impacted by USB-C

Published Sep 11th, 2023 5:34PM EDT
iPhone 14 Pro Max showing a phone call with no Caller ID
Image: Jonathan S. Geller

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The collective eye of the tech world will be laser-focused on Apple tomorrow as the company is set to unveil the iPhone 15. As we’ve come to expect, Apple’s next-gen device will boast a slew of improvements, including an updated processor and an incredibly advanced new camera system. Especially interesting, though, is that the iPhone 15 will be the first iPhone in more than 10 years to ship without a Lightning connector. As you’ve likely heard, Apple with the iPhone 15 will be swapping out the tried and true Lightning Connector for USB-C.

When Apple transitioned from the 30-pin connector to Lightning with the iPhone 5s, it was a frustrating and confusing adjustment for many. The 30-pin connector was ubiquitous and, in one fell swoop, Apple ensured that its brand new iPhone was incompatible with a broad range of accessories. That dynamic, however, is unlikely to play out with the transition to USB-C. Nonetheless, there are some rumblings that the introduction of USB-C might throw a wrench into the iPhone upgrade cycle.

To this end, USB analyst David Vogt recently opined: “People aren’t going to upgrade for the sake of upgrading, because they’d have to change over their cables everywhere. Maybe that causes people to wait a little bit.”

Consumers won’t care about the iPhone transition to USB-C

I simply can’t envision people waiting to upgrade because Apple’s new iPhone has USB-C. Moreover, I don’t imagine most people caring in the slightest. We largely live in a wireless world, which is to say most everyone is only using the iPhone charging port to do just that – charge their device. The days when people would use the iPhone connector to hook up their device to a boombox or treadmill are long gone.

Additionally, USB-C isn’t a proprietary Apple technology. On the contrary, the standard is already commonplace across the tech industry on devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more.

So while it remains to be seen how enthusiastic consumers are about Apple’s next-gen iPhone lineup, the presence of USB-C won’t play much of a factor when consumers contemplate upgrading.

Why is Apple switching to USB-C?

Put simply, Apple is switching to USB-C because it effectively has no choice. Apple’s decision stems from a new EU rule which dictates that all new smartphones must be compatible with USB-C. The law doesn’t go into effect until 2024 but, with Apple seeing the writing on the wall, it opted to make the change right away.

The impetus behind the rule is to ostensibly make life easier for consumers. What’s more, the architects of the law believe it will reduce electronic waste insofar that users won’t need a myriad of different connectors for their arsenal of gadgets.

“We all have at least three mobile phone chargers at home,” said Jozef Sikela, Minister for Industry and Trade. “Looking for the right charger, either at home or at work, can be quite annoying. On top of this, these chargers amount to 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year. Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste.”

An official statement from the European Parliament adds: “These new obligations will lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year on unnecessary charger purchases.”

Apple, for what it’s worth, fought the directive to no avail.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it,” Apple said in a statement a few months back, “which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.”

Apple’s media event will begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.