The report comes as something of a surprise, as although Apple has adopted USB-C for Mac and iPad, it had seemed the company planned to stick with Lightning until it switches to a completely portless phone …
Apple began its adoption of USB-C for Macs back in 2015, with the 12-inch MacBook. It then went all-in with the 2016 MacBook Pro, before backtracking a little last year by restoring MagSafe, HDMI and SD card slots.
The iPad made the switch from Lightning to USB-C in 2018, with the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.
That left the iPhone as the sole core Apple product with a Lightning socket. Since the iPhone retained the older connector for years after the Mac and iPad adoption of USB-C, the consensus view appeared to be that it would continue to do so until the first portless model.
USB-C iPhone 15 report
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted today that Apple will make the switch to USB-C for iPhone in the second half of next year, which is to say the iPhone 15.
My latest survey indicates that 2H23 new iPhone will abandon Lightning port and switch to USB-C port. USB-C could improve iPhone’s transfer and charging speed in hardware designs, but the final spec details still depend on iOS support.
It’s expected to see existing USB-C-related suppliers of Apple’s ecosystem (e.g., IC controller, connector) become the market’s focus in the next 1-2 years, thanks to vast orders from iPhones and accessories’ adoption of USB-C ports.
The reference to USB-C suppliers benefiting for ‘1-2 years’ may indicate that Kuo then anticipates Apple will drop the port altogether.
This is a somewhat odd report. Apple made the switch to USB-C iPads in back 2018, so if it planned to do with the iPhone too, we would have expected that to have happened by now.
It should be noted that although Kuo has a decent track record, he has more recently taken to tweeting simply thoughts or opinions about what Apple might do, rather than anything based on evidence. However, this tweet does specifically say that it’s based on his ‘latest survey,’ which means talking to suppliers.
Supply-chain reports can be of varying reliability. Apple likes to have multiple suppliers wherever possible, to allow it to negotiate better prices, and to reduce risk. If, for example, a major supplier of Lightning ports were to report Apple was planning to cut orders next year, that could mean nothing more than a rejigging of competing suppliers.
Similarly, USB-C suppliers talking about expecting a major boost in orders next year might again simply be Apple or other companies increasing orders with some suppliers while reducing them with others.
Kuo does seem confident in his interpretation of what he’s hearing from suppliers. It’s entirely possible that he’s right, but we wouldn’t count on it yet.