The iPhone 15 is going USB-C – here's what Apple needs to do to make the transition painless

 iPhone lightning port
iPhone lightning port

When Apple officially announces its anticipated iPhone 15 lineup next week on September 12, it will come with a seemingly small but impactful change that will likely be very bad news for your drawer full of classic Lightning cables.

Between the numerous leaks and third-party partners producing lightning legacy-free hardware, it's all but a lock that the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPhone 15 Plus, will all feature the USB-C charge and data port.

As I wrote last year when I basically implored Apple to get on with this transition, this is not the end of the world. Port changes come with challenges, like the obsolescence of existing standards but it's always survivable.

I've lived through the decommissioning of serial, parallel, and SCSI ports, and witnessed the way-too-slow deaths of micro-USB and USB-3. Because I still own some old hardware, I've held on to far too many of these classic cables. Even so, the supporting hardware is mostly dead or dying, or the media that some of them let me access has also fallen out of use.

My point is, that time marches on, and technology races forward. If you can't keep up, you'll be left behind.

Just following the compatibility rules

Apple's apparent decision is, somewhat unusually, not on its own timeline. It's clear Apple has long planned to move its most popular hardware to USB-C (look at the ports on the best MacBooks and best iPads), but I initially thought it might take another year (or more) to replace the iPhone's now classic Lightning port. The European Union's new rules relating to port standards, though, forced the matter and there was little chance that Apple would produce Lightning port iPhone 15 devices in the US and USB-C-supporting models in the EU.

This does not mean that Apple will take a half-assed approach to this transition. I fully expect Apple and its CEO Tim Cook to present this change as its idea. There will be no mention of the EU rule.

Apple's way is to present all changes, good and bad, as beneficial and necessary for the consumer. The fact that the iPhone no longer ships with a charging adapter is a source of frustration for customers who do not have one or more lying around (most do, obviously), but this reduction is presented by Apple as an Earth-saving measure. To be fair, it is an eco-friendly choice, but it's not like Apple reduced the price of the iPhone by, say $20, to help consumers pay for a new adapter.

Acknowledge their port pain

There is a risk in this necessary port swap. If Apple doesn't recognize the pain, frustration, and confusion engendered by the transition from Lightning to USB-C, it could be subject to some serious blowback or at least heaps of negative press.

Every new iPhone 15 will naturally ship with a USB-C to USB-C cable. But we all have tons of adapters and old-school Lightning plugs throughout our homes and in our cars. Sometimes you visit a friend's house and need to charge.

If Apple doesn't ship a Lightning plug-to-USB-C adapter with every new iPhone 15, it's essentially telling consumers, 'this is now your problem.'

My fear is that Apple will not acknowledge those consumer concerns and instead act as if there will never be a need for an adapter. Sure, eventually that will be the case, but this is the transition year. It's worth Apple going the extra mile here just to show devoted customers a little bit of good faith.

Please, do not infer from this that I am in any way against this change. I am ready to say goodbye to the Lightning port and, eventually, all my turtle-necked Lightning cables. You should be, too, and, I hope, Apple will be there to help guide you through this difficult time.

You might also like