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.