Apple’s dream for iPhones could actually be a nightmare


This story is part Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

The Smartphones iPhone 14 take Apple’s quest for a portless phone even further, making newer models sleeker and sturdier by emptying the SIM card slot and relying on eSIM chips.

Gone is another mechanical vulnerability to dust and water, following Apple’s choice to oust the 3.5mm headphone jack from 2016 and empty physical home button from 2017. Extrapolating to the future, you might expect Apple to drop the charging and data port next, beginning the era of the portless iPhone.

I sure hope not.

I’m all for progress, but I think it’s best that we keep some of those copper cables in our lives – even if it goes against the idea of ​​a sleek, transparent gadget to which Apple aspires and that is now becoming achievable, as CNET editor Lisa Eadicicco points out.

Sleek sounds good, but hear me out. There are three big issues with an iPhone without a port: charging inconvenience, slow data transfer, and rejection of wired headphones. Here is an overview of the situation.

Shortcomings of wireless charging for iPhones

The first big problem with an iPhone without a port is that it would be harder to charge.

You can very well have charging stations in the kitchen, in the office, in your car and maybe even on the bedside table near your bed. However, you need to charge your phone elsewhere: at the airport, in a rental car, at a friend’s house, in a university lecture hall, at a conference. Carrying around the charger and cable needed for your “wireless” charging is even worse than carrying around a regular wired charger.

Sure, some places have them onboard now, including cafes and airports, but you don’t want to roll the dice on availability. Chances are good, you would lose.

Wireless chargers are also more expensive, often bulkier, and can be fiddly with phone placement, even with Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. Many times I’ve woken up in the morning or driven for hours to find wireless charging not working.

Wired charging is also faster, wastes less power, and doesn’t leave my phone hot.

If Apple ditches its now archaic Lightning port and adopts USB-C on iPhones, as I expect, its charging and data port becomes more useful. I already use USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Framework laptop, Sony noise canceling headphones, Pixel 6 Pro phone, Pixel Buds Pro earphone case and Nintendo Switch game console and controllers . When I travel, I always have a USB-C charger with me, and I expect USB-C ports to become more common in airports, planes, hotels, cars, and cafes. Don’t hold your breath for a wireless charger stuck in an economy class seat.

“There’s no doubt that USB-C is long overdue on an iPhone, especially since it’s on iPad and Mac,” Creative Strategies analyst caroline milanesi said. “It’s not always possible to go wireless or MagSafe.”

iPhone Data Transfer Speed

The convenience of wireless data transfer makes it the standard for phones. Gone are the days when we had to plug our phones into our laptops to sync and back up data.

But if you’re one of those creative types that Apple shows off at every iPhone launch event, shooting 4K video for your indie movie, you’ll appreciate the wired data transfer to get that video to your laptop faster. . This is especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.

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A one-minute ProRes clip I shot recently is 210MB; imagine how fast you’ll go through gigabytes if you shoot more seriously. Wired connections can also be useful for transferring lots of photos, using a tool like Apple’s Image Capture utility or Adobe’s Lightroom photo editing and cataloging software.

Wired headphones if you can’t afford AirPods

I know, I know, AirPods or other wireless headphones are a booming business these days. But wired headphones are still useful. They are even a retro fashion statement for some people.

I like them because they don’t run out of battery or suffer from Bluetooth flakiness. And they’re much harder to misplace or drop in a gutter while you’re running to catch the bus.

Wired headphones are much cheaper. You might be able to afford second-generation AirPods Pro for $249, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is taken from smartphones, but iPhones with USB-C ports would mean you were more likely to be able to pick up a cheap set of headphones from the airport travel store if you forget your AirPods.

A close-up view of an iPhone 13 Pro Lightning port

I’d rather have a USB-C port than that Apple Lightning port on my iPhone, but I’d rather have one or the other than no port at all.

Stephen Shankand/CNET

Maybe there’s room for a compromise – an iPhone for the wireless-only crowd and another model for people like me. But Apple doesn’t like to force confusing choices on consumers, so I’d be surprised.

The Portless iPhone Case

There are, of course, significant benefits we would get from a portless iPhone.

It would bring a new level of elegance and reduce the amount of cables in your life. iPhone cases would be stronger and more waterproof and dustproof. Apple would get some extra interior space that it could fill with a bigger battery or other electronics.

“An iPhone without a port is probably structurally stiffer and leaves more room for the Taptic Engine or the speakers or maybe an antenna,” said Anshel Saganalyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Apple, which does not usually discuss its future plans, did not comment on this story.

Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make a portless iPhone conceivable. Other advancements are also likely: better Wi-Fi. Wireless charging that works anywhere in a room, not just on a charger. The potential use of ultra-wideband positioning technology for fast short-range data transfer as well.

I already appreciate today’s wireless technologies that would make a portless iPhone possible. I just think the cons of relying exclusively on them outweigh the pros.

The best future is the one that keeps this charging and data port. So Apple, please don’t give up on it either. And while your engineers are figuring it out, what about USB-C?


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