While Apple’s iPhone 14 design decisions will divide opinion, they pale in comparison to what Apple is planning next…
In a new report from Bloomberg, acclaimed Apple reporter Mark Gurman reveals that Apple is currently testing iPhones that do away with the company’s proprietary (and incredibly lucrative) Lightning port in favor of USB-C. And that could make the iPhone 14 lineup worthless.
Gurman says Apple’s decision is driven by upcoming changes in European legislation that would require all phone makers to adopt USB-C. The company has already spoken out against the changes, saying that “regulation mandating a single type of connector for all devices on the market will hurt European consumers by slowing the introduction of beneficial innovations in charging standards, including including those related to safety and energy efficiency.”
But it’s an argument the EU has rejected and last month legislation mandating USB-C was approved by a majority vote. And the consequences for the iPhone 14 range could be significant.
In favor of Apple, EU legislation is unlikely to affect iPhones before 2023 and Gurman says Apple is testing USB-C on early iPhone 15 prototypes. But if EU law passes, all iPhone models with a Lightning connector will quickly be considered legacy devices. Not just by Apple fans, but Apple itself.
There is a precedent here. When the iPhone 5 introduced the Lightning port in 2011, Apple released the iPad 4 line just eight months after the iPad 3, it was a virtually identical tablet with just a processor bump and… yes, the new Lightning port. iPad 3 sales have plummeted, as has their used value.
Therefore, if Apple releases the iPhone 15 line with USB-C, it’s plausible that the company will relaunch older iPhones that it plans to continue selling (including the iPhone 14 models) with USB-C after release. of the iPhone 15. This would kill second-hand values for Lightning-equipped iPhone 14 models.
And no, Apple is unlikely to sell USB-C iPhones in Europe and Lightning-equipped iPhones in the rest of the world, with Gurman explaining that “having multiple versions of the same iPhone with different connectors would likely lead to even more confusion, also as supply chain headaches.”
Moreover, there are objectively good reasons for the EU to make this change. Not only does a single port bring environmental benefits, but USB-C offers faster charging and data transfer rates (which have clear usage scenarios). It would also unify Apple’s lineups, given that MacBooks and iPad Pros already charge via USB-C.
Interestingly, the Gurman report confirms a similar claim from popular Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo on Wednesday. At the time, Kuo’s claim was dismissed by many, as it was believed that Apple favored a future MagSafe-only iPhone before adopting USB-C. But with Gurman now at his side, the weight of the two pundits will see this new take very seriously.
At this point, it’s unclear if Apple would abandon its USB-C plans if EU legislation doesn’t become law or if the company is already too far down the line. Gurman says Apple is already working on “an adapter that would allow future iPhones to work with accessories designed for the current Lightning connector.”
In short, nervous iPhone fans might be wise to put off their upgrade plans until 2023, when bigger design changes are coming anyway.
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