The writing has been on the wall for Apple's Lightning charger for some time. Apple still uses its own charging tech for iPhone and for some accessories, but there's been much speculation that it will switch to USB-C for all devices. Even more so, after the European Union approved legislation to make the universal standard obligatory in Europe from 2024.
For the first time, we've now finally heard something like an official confirmation from Apple itself that Lightning will have to go. The company doesn't sound happy about it, but this might mean that the recently released iPhone 14 will be the last iPhone with Apple's own charging cable.
Earlier this month, the EU voted to pass legislation to require universal USB-C on all small electronic devices from 2024 and for laptops from 2026. That means that Apple will have no choice but to include USB-C on all of its devices in Europe. The new iPad 2022 has already made the change in what was the last of Apple's tablets not to use USB-C, leaving phones and accessories as Apple's only products that still sport Lightning in their latest releases.
In an interview (opens in new tab) with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak has no broken the company's silence on the matter, confirming that “obviously we’ll have to comply, we have no choice”. Yes, it sounds like he's in a bit of a huff about it.
Apple’s Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak (@gregjoz) join @JoannaStern at #WSJTechLive to discuss products, privacy and power at the tech giant https://t.co/fNo2JGwMB4 https://t.co/aGrTlZrUo4October 26, 2022
While Joswiak describes the EU as "well-meaning", he remarks "I don't mind governments telling us what they want to accomplish, but usually, we've got some pretty good engineers to figure out the best way to accomplish that technically."
Joswiak sticks to Apple's argument that banning the Lightning charger will create more e-waste since billions of obsolete Lightning cables are likely to become obsolete. His second argument for sticking to Lighting because "it charges pretty well" sounds a little less convincing (is "pretty well" enough when USB-C charges faster?)
He refused to be drawn on any more detail, such as when the switch to a USB-C iPhone will take place and if USB-C will also be introduced outside of Europe, saying only that “the Europeans are the ones dictating timing for European customers”. That means Apple would need the iPhone to be Lightning-free in Europe by 2024.
With Apple having now switched to USB-C on the iPad, we wouldn't be surprised if we see a USB-C iPhone as soon as next year in good time for the introduction of the new EU rules. Or who knows, maybe we'll even see that long-rumoured portless iPhone. In the meantime, we have the new iPhone 14, which still charges with Apple's own Lightning cable. You can see the best prices in your region below.