Why Apple won’t give up Lightning on iPhone

The European Parliament is considering an official proposal from the European Commission to oblige all companies producing smartphones and small electronic devices to use exclusively USB-C to connect chargers. The chances of this proposal becoming a law are almost one hundred percent. After the entry into force of this law, the sale of devices that do not meet its requirements will be prohibited in all 27 EU countries. One such device is the iPhone. The 2022 iPhone, as if nothing had happened, will have the same Lightning connector. People dream of an iPhone with USB-C in place of Lightning, but they don’t want to hear them. Is Apple ready to leave such a large and tasty market? Or are we just not aware of something and Apple really has nothing to worry about?

USB-C is unlikely to replace Lightning in iPhone

The European Commission hopes that the proposal will turn into an EU directive by the end of 2022. The proposal needs to be analyzed, discussed, and contradictions eliminated. This whole thing is not quick. The arguments of the authors of the proposal are strong – in their opinion, the adoption of this law will reduce the volume of electronic components thrown into landfills. Not everyone agrees with this. According to Apple, the law will send hundreds of tons of Lightning cables to landfills, dampening the positive effect of the new law. In addition, by designating USB-C as the only and mandatory standard, the European Union is making a mistake. Sooner or later, a new type of connector will be created, superior to USB-C – but it will be impossible to implement it, because of this law.

Apple’s arguments have been taken into account, will be taken into account and will be considered. Together with USB-C, other types of connectors are allowed to be used in small electronic devices, as long as there is USB-C. Can you imagine an iPhone with two connectors? USB-C and Lightning? Ditching Lightning in favor of Apple’s USB-C isn’t profitable for a variety of reasons . But what about the EU law, which will soon be adopted? The requirement prescribing to maintain a single type of connectors on the territory of the European Union is not the only one. There will be other requirements in the law, and one of them, voluntarily and without coercion, has already been complied with by Apple.

Why iPhones are sold without charging

Today only Lightning to USB-C cable comes with iPhone.

Last October, with the introduction of the iPhone 12, Apple announced its decision to remove the charger from the iPhone package. Explaining this decision with concern for the environment. The fact that every iPhone user already has a battery of chargers. The fact that, due to the reduction in the size of the packaging, the volume of waste will decrease, less greenhouse gases will be emitted into the atmosphere during transportation to the packaging. Apple did not refer to anyone, and took “fire on itself.” Most likely you remember how this decision was met, how much dirt was poured on Apple. Apple is only the first in the world to fulfill one of the requirements of the European Commission’s proposal.

The proposal was being prepared since January 2020, anyone could read its text – and Apple’s vice president of ecology Lisa Jackson convinced the company’s management to go for this feat. The law, when it comes into effect, will oblige manufacturers of smartphones and small electronic devices to sell these devices and their chargers separately. To be bought only when they are needed. Apple could not be in a hurry with this, because the proposal of the European Commission will become a directive of the European Parliament not earlier than at the end of next year. After that, within two years, the future law will be coordinated with the laws of the 27 member states of the European Union. Apple still has at least three years to take action. Probably more. What will she do? Will release an iPhone with USB-C? Almost certainly not. 99.999%.

USB-C for iPhone

Hard to imagine USB-C coming to iPhone

Aside from commercial and technical reasons for not ditching Lightning in favor of USB-C, Apple has another reason. Lightning is the company’s proprietary technology, to which it can make any changes, if necessary. No one, except for the MFi (Made for iPod, iPhone and iPad) members who signed a non-disclosure agreement, knows the details of its design, protocols and requirements. MFi members don’t know everything about Lightning either. In one of the iOS 15 releases this year, owners of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be able to shoot 4K HDR ProRes video on their smartphone. Power users who want to take advantage of this opportunity ask Apple a question: does the company know that one minute of such a video takes 6 GB in the smartphone’s flash memory?


How to copy such a video, lasting 5-10 minutes, to other devices? If the iPhone was connected to the outside world via USB-C, this would not be a problem. But Lightning, with its pedestrian data rate, is not the right fit for that. Why not use, for example, 5G for this? But not everyone has this opportunity. How do we know Lightning bandwidth? Apple could hardly fail to think about this problem and find a solution. USB-C and Thunderbolt, with all their merits, even though Apple took part in the development of both of these standards, are open technologies, any changes in which need to be coordinated with someone. This inhibits innovation. Apple is developing a replacement for Lightning that does not violate the requirements of the upcoming law, but its own, proprietary. Perhaps MagSafe is an early stage.


by Abdullah Sam
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