We’ve all heard about the European Union’s new mandate, which aims to have almost all mobile devices use USB-C by fall 2024. Of course, Android phone manufacturers would be largely unaffected by the new law, as even low-cost Android phones are now either using USB-C or switching to the port anyway.
The story in Cupertino, on the other hand, is far from clear! As previously stated, the iPhone 14 continues to charge via Lightning, so the next two years may prove decisive for Apple’s port situation. Ming-Chi Kuo, a mostly reliable analyst and leakster, predicted in May that the iPhone 15 would use USB-C:
But that was four months ago! And, while I have no reason to doubt Kuo’s supply chain analysis, I have a strange gut feeling that Apple will pull another daring “headphone jack/SIM card tray” trick on all of us!
So, here are the top five reasons why I do not see the iPhone 15 adopting USB-C and why I expect the iPhone 15 and/or iPhone 16 to be completely… portless.
Apple's September event demonstrates that the company is not ready to comply with the EU: Five signs that the iPhone 15 will not have USB-C
Not long ago, we saw leaked renders of the purported AirPods 2 with a USB-C charging port. Of course, we now know that this leak was inaccurate. What has Apple done in its place? The company doubled down on MagSafe with the AirPods Pro 2, as if to say, “This is the future of Apple charging!”
The fact that Apple refuses to include a USB-C charging port in the 2022 AirPods Pro is the clearest indication that Tim Cook and company are planning a future without USB-C on AirPods and iPhone – the only two Apple products that do not currently support USB-C charging.
Take a look at it! If Apple was going to give the iPhone 15 a USB-C port, why not set the stage for “the big transition” by making the AirPods Pro 2 USB-C now? Apple appears to be releasing a new AirPods Pro every three years (which is the time gap between the 1st and 2nd Gen AirPods Pro). This means that Cupertino’s next opportunity to change the charging port on AirPods will be in 2025, a year after the EU’s USB-C mandate takes effect.
The second clue from Apple’s recent event that screams “no USB-C on iPhone” must be that Cupertino was “courageous” enough once more! After removing the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, Apple has now removed the SIM card tray from the iPhone 14 series (at least in the US).
Apple’s decision to remove the SIM tray from the iPhone 14 elicited mixed reactions from iPhone users in the United States. Many people have pointed out that travelling with your iPhone will now be more difficult. But did the potential backlash prevent Cupertino from moving closer to a future without ports? Not at all! Apple didn’t hesitate to remove the SIM card tray from the iPhone 14, so why not do the same with the charging port?
If you recall, there were some rumours about a slight charging speed bump for the new iPhone 14 series shortly before Apple’s “Far Out” event. The rumours were false. More importantly, Tim Cook and company have repeatedly demonstrated that entering the fast charging race is not one of Apple’s top priorities.
Fast charging and data transfer are two of the main advantages of USB-C, and it appears that Apple does not consider them important to the user experience on previous and new iPhones. So, fans of true fast charging, such as myself, will have to wait until Cupertino develops its own version of the technology. When will it be? And no one knows how!
This is a bit of a stretch, but wouldn’t you agree that a big part of Apple’s rogue behaviour as a company is that it prefers to do things on its own terms and conditions? The Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro is yet another example of Apple’s obstinacy and refusal to follow industry standards. It’s Apple’s way or no way!
If we accept that the iPhone is moving toward a “full-screen” future, wouldn’t it be much easier and faster for Apple to drop Face ID entirely, give the iPhone 14 Pro an under-display fingerprint reader and a tiny punch-hole selfie camera in the middle – similar to the Galaxy S22 – and call it a day (for now)?
But no! With Face ID on iPhone, Apple appears to have a clear vision of the future. Tim Cook and company have a plan, and they stick to it, even if it means the iPhone 14 Pro will have a huge pill-shaped cutout on its display instead of a tiny punch-hole. The Lightning – USB-C – Portless scenario isn’t all that dissimilar. A distinct vision of a future devoid of… ports!
The final but not least significant hint for “iPhone 15 without USB-C” is that… Apple is a business. In fact, it was a huge success. One of the most successful (legal) businesses in history. Okay, you get the idea.
See, Tim Cook and company weren’t afraid to raise EU and UK iPhone 14 prices to maintain and possibly increase margins in the midst of the financial crisis. Prices for the iPad and MacBook are also expected to rise this fall. Apple is even raising prices on older products such as the iPhone SE!
So, knowing that Cupertino makes a good (or even great) commission on all things/accessories Lightning and MagSafe, why would Californians give up everything for USB-C if they can continue to make the same amount of money, if not more, if the iPhone was portless? It is not something that businesses do.
How will the iPhone 15 charge, and will Apple be able to avoid the EU's USB-C mandate: The EU's USB-C law isn't as frightening as you might think!
To clarify, iPhones and AirPods sold in the EU will indeed be required to use USB-C ports by the fall of 2024. It’s now written into the law. However! None of this implies that Apple will be forced to use USB-C for the iPhone 15/iPhone 16.
According to EU officials in an email response to Computerworld, going USB-C will be mandatory only for devices that already have ports. This means that the most obvious solution for Apple, and what I believe will happen with the iPhone 15/iPhone 16, is to go completely portless!
For the record, the EU states that “because wireless technologies still require time to develop, the EU Commission will ask European standardisation bodies to develop a standard for wireless as well 24 months after the Directive enters into force.”
In other words, the EU intends to implement wireless charging standards as well – sooner or later. This, however, would not conflict with Apple’s (supposed) plan for a portless iPhone with MagSafe charging, as all iPhones since 2017 have also supported Qi wireless charging, which is the current industry standard.
Alternative charging options for Apple's iPhone 15 in the face of the USB-C mandate
Having said that, a portless iPhone isn’t (technically) Apple’s only solution to the charging conundrum.
- Apple could theoretically only ship the iPhone 15 with a USB-C port in Europe, while keeping the Lightning – MagSafe combo in the rest of the world.
- The other “solution,” at least in terms of the iPhone 15 series, is that Apple can simply do nothing! Because the EU’s mandate takes effect about a year after the iPhone 15 is released.
If Apple continues to play the waiting game, the iPhone 16 may be the first to lose the port entirely (or gets USB-C, if my prediction is wrong). In any case, September 2023 is expected to be pivotal for Apple and the iPhone’s charging situation, and I’m betting on… no ports!