USB-C vs Lightning: EU Officially Forces the Latter Out, No Thanks to Apple!
Here’s some excellent news in the fight between USB-C vs Lightning. These simple connectors keeping your device plugged in and charged have for years represented the choice between good and, well, evil.
If that sounds a bit too heavy, let me put it this way: the (tech) world is about to get significantly greener and leaner, no thanks to Apple, a company that has for years bragged about how it’s a “green” and “environmentally conscientious” entity.
There’s no doubt that Apple can be green as a company. However, on the particular subject of getting your phone charged, the company has been on the opposite side. By choice. That’s about to end.
On June 7, 2022.- possibly at the exact magical moment when a sea turtle touched me.- the EU’s Parliament and Council negotiators agreed that by “autumn 2024, USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras in the EU.”
That means Apple won’t be able to sell the iPhone in the old continent anymore unless the device uses a USB Type-C port (instead of its current Lightning port.)
It’s been a long journey to get to this point, all due to the real reason Apple has tried so hard to cling to its now-dreadful Lightning cable.
Dong’s note: I first published this post on September 23, 2021, and updated it on June 14, 2022.
USB-C vs Lightning: Apple and its greed
Behind those many Apple events where we heard Tim Cook throwing superlatives, the electronic giant has deliberately maintained an unnecessary and wasteful practice: the proprietary Lightning port used exclusively for its popular iPhone (starting with the iPhone 5).
Apple and its fanboys have many nonsensical pretexts why the Lightning port on the iPhone and its cable makes sense. Specifically, here are their two main arguments.
Pretext #1: Stifling innovations
Apple says moving away from the Lightning port will cause existing users to buy a new cable, creating waste and stifling innovations.
The “waste” notion is true, but it is so for all progress.- we can’t have cars without dropping the horse carriage. The transition will take a few years and has already happened once with the iPhone 5. Before that, older iPhone versions used a different port, which was also proprietary.
By the way, since when has Apple cared about making its users buy fewer things?
As for “stifling innovations,” that’s a pile of, was, well, you name it.
Furthermore, Apple itself is a big proponent of the USB-C port. Since 2018 it has used this port type in all its iPad models. And since 2015, all of the company Macbooks have used Thunderbolt 3 (and later), which shares the same USB-C port type. In fact, many Mac computer models have just this port type!
And for the iPhone, Apple has gone halfway by creating a USB-C to Lightning cable, making things worse.
The point is if you use Apple products, you can’t avoid USB-C! So the irony is going 100% Apple means you will have to deal with USB-C and Lightning cables and therefore be inundated with incompatibility in getting charged.
Pretext #2: The Lightning cable is superior
This notion is simply untrue.
Supporting the latest USB and Thunderbolt standards, the USB-C port can deliver super-faster speeds.- it’s as fast as a peripheral connection can be.
On the other hand, Lightning has always used the USB 2.0 standard, which is dated, and super-slow in data and charging rates.
On top of that, the open Lightning connector can be dangerous.- you don’t want your children to put it in their mouths when the cable is plugged in.
The real reason behind Lightning is Apple’s greed and desire to control, or both.
The only one who benefits from the use of Lightning is Apple, at the expense of everyone else and the green world.
USB is a free open standard, meaning anyone can make a USB cable or port as long as they adhere to the specifications.- if not, the device will not work.
On the other hand, Apple charges license fees for any accessories that use its proprietary Lightning port. In other words, every time you pay for a Lightning cable or an accessory that uses this port, Apple likely gets a cut.
And since billions of them exist, a massive chunk of change is coming to Apple’s coffer each year. Additionally, the Lightning port gives Apple complete control over how the iPhone works via a physical connection.
On the flip side, that’s tons and tons of imminent e-waste. On top of that, the practice makes life harder for consumers. If you have an iPhone and a USB-C device.- we all do.- you will need to double the number of charging cables (and accessories) at home and on the go.
And Lightning makes life harder for accessory makers, too. They have to create products that support multiple ports instead of just USB-C.
The painful truth is this: had Apple decided to move to USB-C, starting with the iPhone 5 (or 6 or 7, or 8), it could have saved the world from those tons of unnecessary waste and resources. Instead, they so far have all used the Lightning port.
In any case, it’s safe to say nowadays, nobody is happy about the Lightning connector except Apple. And that brings us to the latest development in the EU.
USB-C vs Lightning: EU decides to take it no more
On September 23, 2021, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, announced a proposal for its revised Radio Equipment Directive that forces electronics and gadget makers to use the USB-C connector universally.
On top of that, it’ll also end the bundling of chargers with devices to reduce waste.
Specifically, at the time, the Commission proposed:
“A harmonised charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
Harmonised fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes’ yearly.
Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet their new device’s requirements or help them select a compatible charger.[. ] “
These proposed rules apply to smartphones, tablets, headphones, handheld game consoles, and portable speakers.
If you wonder why other products.- like smartwatches, earbuds, trackers, etc- are not part of this, most of them are too small to have a charging port (USB-C or not) and generally use wireless charging.
And while the new rules apply to all manufacturers, it’s clear that the primary target is Apple. For years, the rest of the world has voluntarily moved to USB-C. If you don’t know that, you haven’t been to Europe (or outside of the US, for that matter.)
And this new initiative is now a done deal. Well, almost.
Technically, we still have to wait until after the summer recess for the Parliament and Council to approve the agreement formally and publish it in the EU Official Journal. But that’s just a matter of formality.
Initially, the European Parliament was expected to vote on this in earlier 2022, but better late than never. The way it works, the law will enter into force 20 days after publication, and its provisions will apply after 24 months or in the fall of 2024.
Apart from the convenience, the new law help provide the consumer with better information on the charging characteristics of new devices and enforce the interoperability of charging solutions, including wireless charging.
Per estimates, the new obligations on the re-use of chargers will help EU consumers save up to 250 million euros a year and cut down some 11,000 tons of annual e-waste.
So, the question is, when can you get a USB-C iPhone? Per the timeline, the iPhone 15 must comply but this is possible as early as the iPhone 14.- I wouldn’t count on it.
Will Apple contain its greed and play nice for a change? That remains to be seen. Knowing the company, I don’t count on it. The company might think of other ways to comply without really complying to continue nickel-and-diming its users and accessory makers.
But when the time comes, Tim Cook will make it as though Apple invented the idea of ditching the Lightning port. Now that we can count on.
To put things in perspective, years ago, I was so distraught by Apple’s refusal of the USB-C that the iPhone 6 was my last iPhone. Since then, we’ve moved to USB-C-only devices for the entire family.
But we have friends who still use the iPhone, and as a group, we’ve all continued to endure that same too-familiar frustration.- the cable just won’t fit!
But moving to USB-C solo has also made our life much easier. We’ve significantly reduced the cables we need to carry when traveling, including on our last trip. And at home, the lack of unnecessary frustration is immeasurably pleasant.
On this front, my hat is off to the EU for leading the world. Hopefully, that’s enough to take Apple off the greedy path. Who knows, my next phone might be an iPhone again. We’ll have to wait till 2024 to see.
Till then, the next time you pick up that dreadful Lightning cable, remember how that piece of unnecessary e-waste is entirely on Apple.
Everything We Know About the iPhone 15 and USB-C
There are still plenty of questions about how Apple will handle the iPhone’s switch to USB-C.
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide.
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For the first time in more than a decade, you might need a different charger for your iPhone. Apple executives said the company plans to comply with European rules mandating that new phones all use the same common USB-C charging port. Most phones already use USB-C, with Apple being the main outlier.
When asked if Apple will move to USB-C, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the company has “no choice.” Apple will “comply with local laws” as it does around the world, Joswiak said during an appearance at The Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference in October.
That said, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how Apple will execute the transition to USB-C for the iPhone. Apple rarely discusses new products before announcing them, meaning we don’t have much insight on details like whether all new iPhones will get USB-C, or just those sold in Europe.
Apple declined to share further details regarding future plans to bring USB-C to the iPhone.
Will the iPhone 15 have a USB-C charging port?
There’s a chance the iPhone 15 could have a USB-C port instead of the Lightning connector, but it’s impossible to know until Apple releases its next iPhone. The EU’s rules say all mobile phones sold in the EU will need to have a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024. That means it’s unclear whether Apple will start the transition in 2023 with what will presumably be the iPhone 15, or wait until 2024.
But Chiew Le Xuan, a research analyst for Canalys, thinks the switch could come sooner rather than later.
“What we think is that Apple will bring Type C to the iPhone 15 series,” he said. “So, similar to what they did for the iPads [and] the Macs: They sort of just transitioned the whole product line.”
Apple has reportedly tested iPhone models with USB-C in the past. Bloomberg reported last May that Apple was testing future iPhone models with USB-C, as well as an adapter that would enable these iPhones to work with Lightning connections. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for TF International Securities known for his Apple predictions, also said Apple plans to convert the iPhone to USB-C in 2023.
It’s also worth noting that Apple is a member of the USB Implementers Forum, a nonprofit organization that was formed to further advance USB development and adoption.
What’s the reasoning behind the EU’s new rules?
The new mandate is part of an effort to simplify the charging experience for consumers and cut down on electronic waste.
“Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices,” reads a European Parliament press release.
The shift is also meant to help cut down on the roughly 11,000 metric tons (12,125 tons) of annual e-waste resulting from unused chargers in the EU, the release says.
Will all future iPhones adopt USB-C, or just those in Europe?
This is another question we won’t know the answer to until Apple releases future iPhone models. But Maurice Klahne, senior research analyst at Counterpoint Research, thinks it seems likely Apple will transition the iPhone to USB-C more broadly rather than keeping it region-specific.
“It’s just simply too costly to make different devices for different regions,” he said. “And so Apple will likely make the switch everywhere all at once.”
What benefits does USB-C offer over Lightning?
The transition to USB-C could result in more perks and conveniences for iPhone owners. For example, you’d be able to use the same charger that powers other devices, like your MacBook laptop or iPad, to charge your iPhone. There’s also a broad accessory ecosystem for USB-C, considering it’s been standard on most electronics for the better part of the last decade. Plenty of Apple’s own products already rely on USB-C rather than Lightning, such as the iPad Air, iPad Pro and Apple’s lineup of MacBooks.
It’s possible the switch to USB-C could result in faster charging and data transfers, specifically on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Kuo has reported that only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will support high-speed data transfers over USB-C, for example.
Le Xuan agrees, saying Apple will likely do more to separate the regular iPhone 15 from its premium sibling this year.
“By then moving into a Type C switch, we will probably see some sort of differentiation between the Pro and Pro Max and the non-Pro Max in terms of charging speeds,” he said.
Will I need an Apple-specific USB-C cable?
You shouldn’t need an Apple-made cable to charge your iPhone when Apple makes the switch to USB-C. After all, that would defeat the purpose of the EU’s push toward a universal charging cable.
But the company could potentially make it so that Apple-certified USB-C cables offer benefits over noncertified alternatives. Kuo, for example, reports that Apple will likely optimize chargers that are part of the company’s MFi certification program to offer faster charging speeds. This follows a leak from ShrimpApplePro (who also leaked the Dynamic Island’s design early), which says cables without an MFi certification will be limited in charging and data transfer speeds.
Apple hasn’t spoken about its plans for the iPhone 15 or future USB-C charging cables beyond the Комментарии и мнения владельцев made at The Wall Street Journal’s conference. But a move like this could help Apple boost its accessory ecosystem by maintaining some level of exclusivity as it embraces the switch to a universal iPhone charger.
“Even though their walled garden isn’t as walled anymore,” said Klahne, “they can still make these little adjustments to keep their iOS base more walled off from the general Android market.”
Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 15 lineup in the September timeframe during its usual annual product launch event. Other than USB-C charging, rumors suggest new solid-state buttons are coming to the Pro models, while the Dynamic Island is expected to expand to non-Pro versions.
Options for Sourcing Apple’s Lightning Cable After They Are Gone
Apple’s lightning cable is a proprietary connector type that is used on various Apple devices like the iPhone, the iPod Touch (starting with the 5th generation), the iPad, the iPad Mini, and the iPad Pro. It was originally released in 2012 and replaced the 30-pin connector that formerly shipped with these devices.
As was true with that previous cable type, the lightning cable can be used both for the purposes of charging the device and for data transfer from one device to another.
If you’ve been following technology news over the last year or so, you’ve no doubt seen chatter that the lightning cable may soon be going away. But why might this happen, and what will happen to all the devices you want to continue to use that employ lightning? What are your options for sourcing these cables after they’re gone? The answers to questions like those require you to keep a few key things in mind.
Are There Customized Versions of the Apple Lightning Cable?
Apple sells various versions of the lightning cable in different lengths (typically measured in meters) for users to choose from, but the longest length that they sell officially is two meters.
Thankfully, 3rd-party manufacturers do sell customized versions in much longer lengths for people to choose from. Likewise, at Epec, we are just one example of the providers out there who have the skills and the resources necessary to customize cables in Apple’s lightning standard in any way a customer needs, no matter what.
Customized version of the Apple lightning cable.
What Forced Apple to Change Its Plans to Use Lightning Cables?
Officials in the European Union have been working on what has become known as the Radio Equipment Directive for some time. When enacted, it will require technology companies like Apple to use a single port standard across the entirety of the products it releases. That includes not only the iPhone and iPad, but also devices like the various Mac computers as well.
This is notable because it largely prohibits the use of proprietary charging methods, of which Apple’s lightning cable has been hailed as the chief example. This is a priority in the European Union largely because people are tired of having so many different types of chargers around their homes and businesses and legislators are finally doing something about it.
With that, Apple has two options. They can either design and manufacture a specific version of the iPhone that charges via USB-C that will be sold only in Europe while continuing to sell lightning cable versions in the United States, or they can design a single version that charges only via USB-C that will be sold worldwide.
Most people expect them to choose the latter.
What is USB-C and How Can It Be Used for Charging Electronics?
USB-C, otherwise known as USB Type-C, is a type of cable connection that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike standard USB cables, USB-C is known for being reversible. Instead of being forced to plug one end into something like a charge and the other end into the device you’re connecting to, both ends can be used in either configuration.
USB-C is incredibly common outside the Apple ecosystem and is used in a number of modern devices, including but not limited to monitors, laptop computers, charging stations, external hard drives, smartphones, tablets, and more.
It’s a robust cable type that was designed to replace not only standard USB cables but also cables like HDMI and even traditional analog audio jacks in many devices. Instead of designing hardware with multiple ports depending on which cable you were trying to use, now they can include just a few or even one USB-C port to accomplish all the same goals in tandem. This has already led to devices with smaller and more powerful form factors and will continue to do so moving forward.
In addition to being able to transmit standard data, including audio and video signals, USB-C was also developed to be a universal charging standard. It doesn’t matter what type of charger you’re using. it can be leveraged to charge the battery in any device you own that supports the format.
It does this through its support of the USB PD specification. The types of USB cables that we’re all used to can deliver a maximum of 2.5 watts of power at any given time when plugged into a charger and a wall outlet. While this is adequate for (slowly) charging a small device like a smartphone, it is less useful for larger devices like laptops.
The USB PD specification, however, increases that to 100 watts. Since your average laptop computer requires approximately 60 watts of power to charge, this is more than enough to get the job done. Likewise, USB-C is bidirectional. meaning that you can use your laptop’s battery to charge something like your smartphone, too.
What are the Advantages of Switching All Apple Products to Use USB-C?
While the switch to USB-C will certainly be something of a difficult shift for most Apple device owners at first, especially enterprise users, it is a move that brings with it a wide range of different benefits that cannot be ignored.
For starters, it would finally unify Apple’s array of devices in a way that people could never before enjoy. In previous generations, you needed one type of cable to charge your iPhone, for example, and another to charge your Mac. This led to a plethora of different chargers lying around the home or the office.
After the switch to USB-C, you can use a single cable to charge not only your iPhone and your iPad, but your MacBook or MacBook Pro as well. This means carrying fewer chargers with you while you’re on the go, which will come as a major advantage for most people.
Likewise, USB-C is an inherently “better” technology than Apple’s own lightning cable in some ways. Not only would it allow for the faster charging of devices, but it would also allow faster data transfer speeds as well. This is of course assuming that you’re transferring files from something like a Mac computer to an iPhone using a cable as opposed to many of the wireless options that are available like Wi-Fi or AirDrop.
Finally, Apple moving the iPhone and other devices to USB-C would increase compatibility with the wide array of third-party accessories that are available. Right now, many accessory manufacturers have to make a difficult choice when it comes to designing their products. They can choose to release two versions. one compatible with Apple devices and one for virtually everything else that already uses USB-C. or forgo the Apple ecosystem altogether.
Some manufacturers have chosen the second option in the past, leading to incredibly handy accessories like docks and charging stations that are essentially cut off from Apple device owners. This would be less of a problem moving forward, as manufacturers are now free to develop accessories that are compatible with most mobile device owners around the globe.
Will Companies Still Be Able to Buy Lightning Cables After Apple Discontinues Them?
In a word, “yes.” Epec, for example, currently has access to all the tooling necessary to make any customized version of Apple’s lightning cable that you need. So even when they’re no longer being provided by Apple itself, you can continue to use (and charge) all of your old devices without issue. We can also provide custom lengths and other specialized options that Apple themselves currently do not at the moment, allowing you to continue to get the most out of what has undoubtedly already been a significant investment in hardware.
If you’d like to find out more information about the options available to you when it comes to sourcing Apple’s lightning cable after it has been formally discontinued by the tech giant, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to see answered in a bit more detail, please don’t delay. contact the team at Epec Engineered Technologies today.
USB-C vs. Lightning: What’s the Difference?
Nick Steinberg has been writing about technology since 2014. His work has appeared in Goliath, Screen Rant, TechRadar, and many more publications.
Kayla Dube has 4 years’ experience in videography and filmmaking. She frequently works in production with indie film companies.
In This Article
Despite being similar, USB-C and Lightning are not the same. They are among the most popular charging cables on the market, especially when it comes to mobile devices. The most significant difference between the two cable types is that Lightning is a proprietary connector used on iPhones and other Apple devices. Some other key factors set USB-C and Lightning apart.
USB-C and Lightning (not to be confused with Thunderbolt) are protocols used for connection, communication, and power supply. Although both cable types are primarily for charging devices like smartphones and tablets, you can also use them for digital transfer tasks such as uploading or downloading movies, music, photos, and more.
USB-C is considered by many to be the current standard for charging and transferring data. However, every iPhone and iPad since September 2012 has come with a Lightning cable. The exception is the iPad Pro, which adopted USB-C starting with the 3rd generation models in 2018). Lightning has remained on the iPhone since 2012, while other manufacturers have used several types of USB ports before (mostly) settling on USB-C.
Setting aside Apple exclusivity, USB-C is superior to Lightning in just about every way having the benefit of being a new connector coming out years after Lightning.
Data Transfer Rates: USB-C Is Significantly Faster
USB-C is capable of supporting USB4, the latest and fastest USB specification. As a result, USB-C cables can transfer speeds up to 40Gbps. By comparison, Lightning cables are much slower and transfer data at USB 2.0 rates of 480Mbps.
Complicating matters is that Apple doesn’t release all specifications for its proprietary technology, so it’s unclear what Lightning’s actual maximum transfer speed is. That said, Apple hasn’t released a protocol update since Lightning’s release, meaning its functionality has changed little since 2012. There are, of course, pluses to this. You can use a cable from 2012, and it’s still compatible with new iPhones.
As the numbers indicate, USB-C has a massive speed advantage over Lightning. That said, this advantage isn’t as significant as it seems, considering most people now transfer data wirelessly from their phones and other devices instead of using a cable.
Compatibility: Lightning Only Works With Apple Devices
Although it isn’t officially a universal standard, most modern devices, including Android smartphones and Windows PCs, support USB-3. Even Apple’s current Mac computers have hybrid USB-3/Thunderbolt ports. You’ll also find USB-C support across next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as the Nintendo Switch.
On the other hand, Lightning’s compatibility is limited as it’s exclusive to Apple products. Except for 3rd generation iPad Pros and later, all iPhones and iPads released since 2012 use a Lightning connection. To connect your iPhone or iPad to a charger or other device, you need a cable with at least one Lightning connector.
Power Delivery: USB-C Supports Higher Wattage and Current
USB-C offers a higher power delivery rate than Lightning and delivers a faster charge under the same voltage. Whereas Lightning supports a maximum current of 2.4A, USB-C carries 3A with support for up to 5A. This distinction makes USB-C much better for fast charging, as it supports the USB Power Delivery fast-charging standard.
Standard Lightning cables don’t support fast charging, so Apple includes a USB-C to Lightning Cable with most products. Combined with a 20W or higher power adapter, you can fast-charge an iPhone up to 50% battery in about 30 minutes.
Durability: USB-C Cables May Last Longer, but Lightning Offers Stable Physical Connection
In terms of ease of use and durability, USB-C and Lightning are closely aligned. Both connections have reversible ends, making them easier to plug into your devices. They also include chips to help guarantee compatibility and control power supply for stabilized current and data transfers.
Anecdotally, there’s considerable debate over which cable offers better durability. Some people claim that Lightning cables break more easily, while others argue that Lightning‘s connecting tabs fit better in their respective ports and are less prone to loose connections than USB-C. That said, much of this comes down to personal preference.
The best thing you can do to increase the longevity of either cable is to purchase one from a trusted manufacturer and take good care of both the cable and your device’s condition.
Final Verdict: USB-C the Better Connector
Durability debates aside, USB-C is superior to Lightning in just about every way. It offers wider compatibility, faster data transfer rates, and increased power delivery for better fast charging.
With pressure mounting from European regulators for the mobile industry to adopt a universal standard, Apple might not have much say in the matter.
A USB-C to Lightning cable has a Lightning connector on one end, with a USB-C connector on the other end instead of a standard USB-A connector. With a USB-C to Lightning cable, you can charge and sync your iOS devices.
The cable takes a lot of stress over time, and that’s a likely culprit when your charger stops working. It’s possible for a charging cable’s copper wiring to be damaged, causing the charger to stop working or work intermittently. Sometimes, however, the charger is the problem, not the cable. To fix a broken charger, test the wall socket and look for damage to the device power port.
Different USB cable types have different maximum lengths. USB 2.0 cables can extend to about 98 feet (30 meters). USB 3.0 and 3.1 cables can extend only to about 59 feet (18 meters). Your extension cables can only be as long as the original cable.