All signs point to Apple finally making the jump to USB-C with next year’s iPhone 15. The change is due in large part to new regulation in the European Union, but with the Lightning port celebrating its 10th birthday, it was time for a change regardless.
But while the iPhone 15 switching to USB-C will be celebrated, it’s going to be a messy transition … and Apple doesn’t seem to care.
USB-C iPhone! Yay!
The iPhone probably should have switched to USB-C years ago, we can all agree on that. Apple dove off the deep end with USB-C when it overhauled the MacBook Pro with just four USB-C ports for charging and connectivity. The iPad started the transition to USB-C in 2018 with the iPad Pro, and that process was completed just last month with the new iPad 10.
This means there are just two flagship products sold by Apple right now with Lightning: the entire iPhone lineup (ranging from the iPhone SE to the newest iPhone 14) and the iPad 9.
But where things really get messy is with Apple’s accessories. Reports are that Apple will transition its accessories to USB-C alongside the iPhone 15 next year, but this is something Apple should have started this year (if not even earlier).
The AirPods Pro 2 problem
The most confusing aspect of Apple’s roadmap is AirPods Pro 2 and the new Siri Remote that ships with the latest Apple TV 4K and is also available separately. Despite being released within weeks of one another, the AirPods Pro 2 charging case uses Lightning, while the new Siri Remote uses USB-C.
Interestingly, the EU legislation in its current form would require AirPods Pro to switch to USB-C for charging, but not the Siri Remote. So why didn’t Apple switch the AirPods Pro to USB-C with this year’s revision? After all, AirPods Pro 2 feature an all-new charging case with Find My integration and a speaker. It seems like this would have been a perfect opportunity to swap out that Lightning port, too.
Pretty much all of Apple’s accessories for the Mac still use Lightning for charging. There’s also the MagSafe Battery Pack with Lightning, the increasingly less-useful MagSafe Duo, and AirPods 2 and AirPods 3.
But even with the iPhone 15 switching to USB-C, you won’t be able to toss out all your Lightning cables. At least not without shelling out for updated versions of Apple’s accessories with USB-C. Chances are the company will sell a new version of the AirPods charging cases with USB-C.
Did you just buy AirPods Pro 2 for $249? Sorry, you’ll have to drop another $79 on an updated charging case with USB-C. This, of course, is a strategy we’re used to for Apple. The first version of AirPods Pro didn’t offer MagSafe charging, but Apple updated the case a year later with the magnetic wireless charging feature. It’s a good way to eke out a few more dollars in profit from AirPods users everywhere.
One nice thing in regard to AirPods Pro 2 specifically is that they can be recharged via the Apple Watch’s puck charger. If you’re traveling, this means you won’t have to bring a Lightning cable just for AirPods Pro unless you want to quickly top them off without balancing the magnetic connection.
Don’t get me wrong: the iPhone 15 switching to USB-C is a major step in the right direction, albeit it several years late. I would have preferred Apple make the change on its own, rather than doing it in response to government legislation. I would also have liked the company to start moving all of its accessories to USB-C by now.
There’s still time for Apple to move its iPhone-adjacent products to USB-C prior to the iPhone 15’s release, but the clock is ticking. The release of AirPods Pro 2 doesn’t bode well for the company’s plans to make this as seamless of a transition as possible.
What do you think? Would you have preferred that AirPods Pro 2 feature USB-C for charging? What about other Apple accessories? Let us know in the comments.
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