iPhone 15 USB-C connectors a double-edged sword for Apple?

Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone 15 series next Tuesday, 12 September at its Apple Event in Cupertino, California.

One of the expected changes to the iPhone is something that the company most likely didn’t want, but was forced into doing thanks to international regulations.

Last year, the European Parliament ruled that all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the European Union must be fit with a standardized USB Type-C charging port. For non-Apple users, such as Android users, the change doesn’t make much of a difference, since most phones already use the USB-C port.

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It didn’t make economic sense for Apple to only create USB-C ports for its products in Europe, so the company decided to update the entire line, starting with the iPhone 15.

But for Apple, and its users, the change from Apple’s proprietary Lightning port to USB-C, which must be implemented across Europe by the end of 2024, could be a double-edged sword.

What the change means for Apple

Apple has long been famous for creating accessories for its brand that are functional only with Apple products.

The strategy has allowed the company to profit from users adding new accessories, such as adapter cables, headphones and chargers, directly from the brand, instead of third-party manufacturers. It’s also helped keep its users loyal to Apple.

But Apple also has some concerns about how forcing the company to adapt to a standardized charging port could impact its competitive edge.

The company initially pushed back against the EU’s ruling, potentially because adopting the same type of charger as competitors such as Samsung could make it that much easier for Apple users to jump ship to other brands.

They also argued that all of the current Lightning cables could end up being binned.

But while there are certainly cost setbacks for Apple in updating their manufacturing, there are some potential upsides that analysts are talking about online.

What could improve from the switch?

Mark Gurman, a reporter with Bloomberg that covers Apple and is considered one of the leading analysts on the company, said that while Apple resisted the switch to the USB-C, they will embrace some of its benefits, and show them off to customers.

For example, the introduction of USB-C could potentially facilitate the arrival of truly fast charging on the iPhone 15, as opposed to the iPhone 14, which charges at 20W.

Technology news website The Verge, reported recently that the switch from Lightning cables to USB-C could bump up the charging speed in the iPhone 15 to 35W.

The catch, however, is that the fast-charging capability may only be available on Apple-certified cables, and on the Pro models of the iPhone, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

For the lower-level models (iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus), the models could be limited to USB 2.0 (Up to 480 Mbps) data transfer speeds, while the iPhone 15 Pro models could see the USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt (Up to 20 or 40 Gbps) data transfer speeds.

What Apple users need to know is that it will almost certainly be mandatory, according to analysts, to buy an official Apple-certified charger in order to enjoy the fastest charging speeds on the new iPhone line.

Apple already sells a 30W USB-C charger for the iPad and MacBook Air.

Apple’s other clashes with the EU

The issue of universal charging ports isn’t Apple’s only row with the EU, which was its second-largest source of revenue behind the Americas in the third quarter of 2023.

Telephone batteries have also been a hot-button issue for the tech giant and Europe. The continent will soon require all smartphone manufacturers to build phones with removable, replaceable batteries.

According to Apple, the removable battery would go against its goal of creating durable and environmentally friendly products.

Additionally, the Cupertino-based company is facing other lawsuits around the world for its efforts to prevent outside service providers from providing maintenance to Apple products. Consumers argue that the high cost to fix Apple products via their repair system isn’t fair.

Who would’ve thought; all this controversy surrounding a charger. But we won’t know for sure until next Tuesday when Apple unveils its iPhone 15, and most probably, the iPhone’s first-ever USB-C charger.

By Stiven Cartagena, Editor of Geektime

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