Apple’s right to drop Lightning for iPhone 14, even though it's a little bit frightening

Rumours say the iPhone 14 Pro will have USB-C where the Lightning port used to be

Apple USB-C Lightning cable
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 14 could have a very important change: according to rumours, it's going to have a USB-C port where the Lightning connector currently lurks on the iPhone 13. The prediction seems highly likely to me because the European Union has been leaning on Apple to embrace USB-C for some time, and Apple has already used USB-C in my M1 MacBook Pro and my iPad Air.

It's not a case of whether the iPhone will move to USB-C; it's a case of which models will get it first. The smart money's on the iPhone 14 Pro.

T3's own Apple expert Matthew Bolton said this in relation to iPhone 14 going USB-C:

"I think Apple will switch to USB-C in iPhones in 2022 or 2023 – but it will probably happen when Apple next updates the design significantly, and we just don't know for sure if that'll be in iPhone 14 or 15. Apple has moved almost the whole iPad line-up to USB-C instead of Lightning now, so it seems like just a matter of time. The big elephant in the room is the EU's proposed rules for making Apple switch to USB-C, though, and when that would kick in, assuming it's finalised. Previously, I would have predicted that Apple would add USB-C to the iPhone 'Pro' models first, and then the rest a year later. But with legal time pressure, I wouldn't be surprised if they all switched at once."

No need for kung-fu fighting over a little Lightning

It's all about waste. Instead of firms offering all kinds of chargers and those chargers and cables ending up in landfill, the EU wants to mandate a single standard for wired charging: USB-C. That would apply not just to smartphones but to portable speakers, charging cases such as the ones for AirPods and AirPods Pro, and the best wireless headphones such as the AirPods Max. If it comes into force it's unlikely to do so until 2024, but I think Apple will start the shift before then. It already has with its Macs and is starting to do the same with its best Beats headphones.

Lightning is yesterday's cable. Unless Apple is only using a fraction of its capacity, it doesn't offer as much power as USB-C can carry – 120W in the case of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 4's USB-C charger and possibly 240W in future Android chargers – and it doesn't have the data speeds of USB-C either. That's important, especially in the Pro models: ProRes video files are absolutely massive and best transferred over the fastest possible wired connections. 

Apple could fight the EU, which if nothing else would enable me to use the headline Charge Of The Light(ning) Brigade. But it'd be a hollow victory even if Apple won, which is by no means guaranteed. Like the 30-pin connector before it, it's lightning's time to go.

Carrie Marshall
Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).