Will Apple ever be replaced

What if Apple got rid of the Lightning port?

Simon Lohmann

Allegedly, Apple will not have a Lightning connector on the iPhone in 2021. This is only a rumor so far, but the past shows that Apple makes decisions about its products that do not really seem understandable at first glance. We explain the advantages and disadvantages of an iPhone without a Lightning port.

EnlargeApple introduced the Lightning connector in 2012 with the iPhone 5.

Does Apple think a single iPhone port is still one port too many? If the well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has its way, then yes. According to Kuo, Apple is planning a high-end iPhone without a Lightning connector for 2021. It is not exactly surprising that Apple wants to get rid of the Lightning port: Apple may also want to give the iPhone a USB-C port - just like with the iPad Pro. However, Kuo believes Apple has other plans. Accordingly, Apple wants to completely do without connections in the near future.

This may sound like a stretch. But we're talking about the company that banned the headphone jack from the iPhone a few years ago. One would never have expected this decision from Apple. So maybe this rumor should be taken a little more seriously.

What is Apple doing with this?

The most important first question is, why would Apple choose this? Here are a few ideas:

Aesthetics and corporate philosophy

We hope the company has learned from some of its recent missteps and is not just deleting the last remaining port because ports look ugly and break symmetry, and that the Platonic ideal of a device is one with no visible buttons or ports.

More technical leeway

Similar to the headphone jack back then, removing the Lightning connector would create more space inside the phone; for other technologies or a larger battery. Perhaps more importantly, the charging port must be in a very specific, easily accessible location on the outer edge of a product. If this were omitted, you not only gain more space, Apple's engineers would also have more freedom with regard to the positioning of components inside the device.

One less source of error

There aren't many reports that Lightning connectors are defective - but failures do occur. The fewer ports that are exposed to the outside world and cannot break, the fewer iPhones that need to be repaired for this reason.

Completely waterproof

For several years now, Apple has been increasing the water and dust resistance of its iPhones. While this is a positive trend, Apple is still not ready to replace iPhones that have given up due to water damage. According to Apple, if you drop your iPhone in the toilet or puddle, no matter how waterproof the iPhone should be, it is your fault. Perhaps removing the Lightning port is another step on the way to an iPhone that is truly waterproof, not just resilient.

How we use Lightning

Are any of the above enough to justify removing the Lightning connector? We can only answer that if we think about how the port is used today. The following points speak against removing the Lightning port:

Charge

Yes, Qi charging is an option. I have two Qi chargers. But when the iPhone needs to be charged quickly, cables are more effective. And how should you charge your iPhone on the go if there is no charging port? Do we then have to replace our external power banks and USB chargers in cars, airports and airplanes with inefficient Qi chargers?

Disaster recovery

Have you ever tried to restore an Apple Watch that was inoperable due to a watchOS beta? This is not possible, because there is no equivalent to the device reset as on the iPhone and iPad, where you can connect a device with a cable and simply restore it. Imagine an iPhone that cannot be reset this way.

USB connectivity

I don't transfer large files between my Mac and iOS devices over a Lightning cable these days because AirDrop is pretty quick and convenient. But some users still sync data between Mac and iPhone, and wired connections are much more stable. You can also connect almost any USB device to an iPhone through an adapter and add items like musical instruments, microphones, Ethernet adapters, and pretty much anything else you can think of. It's hard to imagine a future iPhone Pro that a professional DJ or musician can't use due to a lack of USB connectivity.

CarPlay

Support for Wireless CarPlay was announced years ago. But even today, most CarPlay devices cannot do without a physical connection. It's hard to imagine Apple bringing out an iPhone that is incompatible with the majority of cars.

If you weigh up the pros and cons, it's hard to believe that Apple will actually bring an iPhone without a connection onto the market. The assumption that Apple will switch to USB-C for its smartphones is more realistic. In addition, one could ask the question of whether Apple really needs to change or abolish the Lightning connector. After all, it has served us well since it was introduced in 2012.