What you should know about Apple’s move to USB-C for the new iPhone

Apple will release the iPhone 15 this Friday. It comes with a faster processor and a better camera, but for many, those features are not what make this version of the smartphone so exciting.

The newest model becomes the first iPhone which charges via USB-C.

“Apple has abandoned their proprietary interface known as the ‘lightning connector’ to this USB-C, not because they wanted to, but because they were being forced to by [European Union] regulations,” said Ken Colburn of Data Doctors.

EU officials passed a provisional agreement in June 2022 that will require a uniform charging cord in the 27-nation bloc, set to take effect by fall 2024. It’s part of a wider effort to make products sold in the EU more sustainable and cut down on electronic waste.

Colburn said the new connector is not new technology — many computers and even newer iPads already use it — but Apple, he believes, held off on switching over for the iPhone because a lot of money is made on selling the proprietary lightning cables, not because it’s better tech.

USB-C, according to Colburn, is “technologically superior” to Apple’s lightning cable.

“USB-C was designed to be a one-connector-for-all cable that you could use for charging, transferring data, transmitting audio, transmitting video and that’s what the technology does allow,” he said.

So, if you’re upgrading your iPhone, must you throw out all those lightning cables you purchased over the years?

Not necessarily, Colburn said, because Apple will sell an adapter allowing you to connect your lightning cable with a USB-C phone.

Cheaper third-party versions of those adapters are also available, according to Colburn.

For many folks, Colburn said, this change will ultimately mean fewer cables lying around.

“If you do have a newer iPad, and you’ve already started using the USB-C cable, then you’re kind of in good shape,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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