Lightning is dead, long live USB-C!
Today, the European Parliament voted to require the use of USB-C in all new devices sold in the EU. This includes phones, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable gaming consoles, headphones, earbuds, loudspeakers, wireless mice and keyboards, and navigation devices. The ban will take effect in 2024. Additionally, laptops will be required to use USB-C beginning in 2026.
This obviously affects iPhones, which have used the outdated Lightning connector since 2012. The Lightning connector is proprietary, and Apple has been using it to lock users into their ecosystem. It made sense at first, given how atrocious Micro USB and the 30-pin Apple connector are, and a charging port that worked no matter which orientation you plugged it in was very convenient. Back then, it was undoubtedly a major step up.
That was more than 10 years ago, though, and Lightning hasn’t changed. It’s stuck at USB 2.0 speeds, with a maximum of 480Mb/s transfer speed, and the only way to use fast charging on iPhones is to use USB-C fast chargers and an adapter (otherwise you’re stuck at a measly 12 watts). Most new Apple devices don’t even use Lightning anymore, but Apple has refused to switch their iPhones to USB-C. Compare that with USB 4-capable USB-C, which has 40Gb/s (40,000 Mb/s) transfer speeds and 240 watt fast charging, and you can see why Lightning is an absolute joke in today’s modern era of smart devices.
Lightning cables are more expensive, too, because all of them have to be “Apple Certified” (which means they paid Apple for the privilege of making otherwise-functional copper wires work with iPhones). USB-C cables are slightly cheaper, not proprietary, and work with a much wider range of devices. Lightning cables are also more fragile, and have a tendency to destroy one of the pins (the 5V pin, which is the 5th one. Go look at it, it’s probably darker than the other ones) over time. Planned obsolescence much?
Although it’s very possible that Apple switches to USB-C for their 2023 iPhone (they’ve been testing it out), I wouldn’t really hold my breath. They’ve been dragging their feet on this for years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they just keep using Lightning until 2024 when they absolutely have to switch. Then, they’ll undoubtedly market it as a “revolutionary new feature” as if they aren’t 5 years behind the rest of the industry. They might also just ditch cables entirely and only use wireless charging, although personally I think that’s a bit silly (and I’m sure I’m not the only one).
Additionally, this directive allows people to choose whether or not to include the charger in the box. It saves money and reduces e-waste while also eliminating any extra emissions caused from shipping 2 separate items. This is a win-win for everyone, and I’m glad to see the EU taking a stand against Apple’s anti-consumer practices. Now if only Apple would stop locking parts to phones and making it impossible to manually repair them…