iPhone 15 Pro tipped to up the USB-C ante with Thunderbolt speeds

iPhone 15 Pro data speeds could leave you thunderstruck (na na na na na na na na na)

iPhone 15 mystery chips
(Image credit: Chargerlab)

We've heard multiple reports that the iPhone 15's move to USB-C would deliver a serious speed upgrade, but that the fastest speeds – and its fastest charging speeds – would be reserved for the Pro and Pro Max. And now a new set of leaked images of the iPhone 15's internals has revealed the existance of a mystery chip behind the USB-C connector.

According to Chargerlab.com, who published the images, the chip is a retimer chip and its presence "suggests that multiple models within the iPhone 15 series will support Thunderbolt/USB4's high-speed 40Gbps data transmission." ChargerLAB says that the chip is commonly found in high speed Thunderbolt/USB4 devices, where its job is to reduce signal jitter and reconstruct signals to deliver better stability and longer transmission distances for fast data transfers.

Is Apple planning two-tier USB-C?

It's pretty much certain that Apple is going all-in on USB-C for the iPhone 15, and that's good news for multiple reasons. One less charging cable is always handy, but that compatiblity could massively increase the amount of compatible devices for iPhone. At the moment manufacturers need to make different devices for the iPhone due to its Lightning connector. With that gone, they can make devices that work with both the best iPhones and best Android phones.

Or at least, they might be able to. What we don't know yet is whether Apple will be bringing its MFI (Made For iPhone) system across to USB-C. MFI is Apple's certification programme, and some reports have suggested that Apple may restrict the performance of non-MFI USB-C devices. That could put Apple on a collision course with the same EU that mandated USB-C, and that could prove to be a long-running and expensive battle. 

Whether Apple creates a two-tier USB system or not, it's clear that Lightning is on its way out: once the iPhone 15 ships only the 9th Generation iPad and the AirPods will have Lightning connectors, and we know that the AirPods Pro 2 are getting a USB charging case this year too. 

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 more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).