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Lightning Cable Will Still Work with a USB-C iPhone… Yet

Even once the USB-C iPhone is released, the Lightning port may be more common than you think on Apple goods.

In an extremely unusual move, Apple this week revealed a concrete hint regarding the iPhone’s future.

Apple’s top brass have stated that the tech giant will follow the EU’s demand that all phones sold in the region switch to USB-C as the standard smartphone charging port by 2024. This necessitates a departure from Apple’s Lightning connector, which has been used with iPhones since 2012.

Given the EU’s new regulations, it’s likely that the iPhone will eventually switch to USB-C. At the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak, stated that the business had “no alternative” but to “comply with local laws” as it does in every other country in which it operates. However, this doesn’t necessarily spell the end for the Lightning cable just yet. Due to the widespread availability of Lightning-port accessories and the continued demand for older iPhone models, the Lightning port may play a more significant role than you’d think in Apple’s product portfolio.

It’s no secret that Apple goods now frequently feature USB-C connections. It’s on every iPad the business currently sells except the tenth-generation iPad, due out in 2021. USB Type-C connectors are also included on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air from Apple.

Users and experts alike have eagerly anticipating the iPhone’s use of USB-C. Last year, a customized iPhone X with a USB-C connector fetched $86,001 on eBay. After all, it’s logical to want to charge your iPhone, iPad, and Mac from the same cable. The new directive from the European Union is a move in the direction of a less complicated charging system. However, there is a possibility that users will experience some confusion during this time when they switch between using new and old chargers to power their iPhones.

Aside from the iPhone, only a few few devices support electrical charging with a Lightning cable. Some examples of these accessories are the AirPods and AirPods Max headphones, the original Apple Pencil (which, interestingly, is the only type that works with the new iPad Pro with USB-C), and the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard. If an iPhone with USB-C becomes available in the future, users of these devices may still need to swap cables.

CNET reached out to Apple for comment on whether or not the Lightning port would be included in future iterations of these items, but the company has yet to answer.

Keep in mind that not all iPhone buyers go for the most recent release. When a new iPhone is released, Apple often makes previous models more affordable. For instance, the iPhone 13 from 2017 and the iPhone 12 from 2020 are still part of the company’s current lineup. After unveiling the iPhone 13 in September 2021, Apple still offered the iPhone 11 in its catalog, albeit at a discounted price of $499. If Apple stays true to form, there will also be Lightning-enabled iPhones in 2023.

While many consumers may be drawn to the newest iPhone, there is still a sizable market for previous-generation models. Despite its 2019 introduction, Counterpoint Research reports that the iPhone 11 was the fifth best-selling smartphone in 2021. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reports that during the March 2022 quarter, the iPhone 11, the iPhone SE, and the iPhone XR, which is now four years old, accounted for fifteen percent of all iPhone sales in the United States.

Similarly, a separate survey from Counterpoint Research found that refurbished iPhones were highly sought after, with Apple taking up more than 40% of the global market for secondary phones. Those who plan to buy reconditioned iPhones in the future should probably keep their Lightning cables, as they are used to charge all iPhones released after 2012. Counterpoint also claimed that in 2021, as consumers sought to avoid excessive pricing and make more sustainable purchasing decisions, demand for reconditioned phones climbed by 15%.

As inflation eats away at other costs, many may be reluctant to upgrade their phones. According to the International Data Corporation, smartphone shipments worldwide will drop by 6.5% in 2022 as rising prices dampen consumer enthusiasm. Assurant, an insurance firm that also helps businesses set up device trade-in programs, reports that the average age of cellphones being turned in has reached 3.5 years. The longer Lightning cables are in circulation, the more people will continue to utilize older iPhones.

Ultimately, iPhone users will benefit from the switch to USB-C. The EU mandated USB-C because of its widespread compatibility with modern devices, including iPads, Macs, and later iPhones. The timing of the change is perfect, as wireless charging, Bluetooth accessories, and Apple’s new MagSafe connector mean that iPhones are becoming less reliant on connected connections.

However, changes of this nature take time. As for how Apple will implement the EU’s ruling, many things remain unresolved. For instance, it is unknown if Apple will implement USB-C in 2023 or wait until 2024. There has been no word on whether or not USB-C will become the universal standard or if Apple will reserve its use for iPhones sold in Europe.

The launch of a USB-C iPhone, on the other hand, may mark the beginning of a transition toward a world where just a single cable is needed for all electronic devices. However, this won’t be an overnight process.


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