This week includes Apple’s long-awaited switch from the Lightning connector to USB-C. Although the move is more motivated than a desire to increase usability, it is a positive development that all major smartphone makers are finally using the same port for data and charging. Unfortunately, Apple’s change brings some additional confusion to the standard.
Now for those of you familiar with the ins and outs of USB-C, the added complexity shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. That’s because USB-C really only refers to the connector (as opposed to the traditional boxy USB-A plug or the tiny trapezoidal microUSB jack or USB micro-B), while other standards dictate data speeds, power delivery, and more. . The good news is that now that all major OEMs use the same port, the days of asking a friend to borrow an iPhone charging cable or Android power cord will soon be a thing of the past.
However, the way Apple implements USB-C on the new iPhone 15 and 15 Pro makes things tricky. The first problem is that data transfers on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are connected at USB 2.0 speeds (480 Mbps), which is similar to what you get with a Lightning connector. Meanwhile, Apple lists the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max as supporting “USB 3” data transfer at up to 10 Gbps, or about 20 times faster.
That’s a big difference, and I’m not sure why Apple limited the iPhone 15s to this level — especially when you consider all similarly priced Android phones with data speeds of up to 10Gbps. To make matters worse, Apple’s use of “USB 3” to describe the transfer rates on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro max doesn’t sound right. USB 3.0 (which is not the same as USB 3) is supposed to top out at 5 Gbps, which Apple says is actually USB 3.1 Gen 2 or USB 3.2 uses Gen 2 on its new phones (both go up to 10Gbps. ) and labels it USB 3 for simplicity. Still confused? USB-IF (the group that manages the USB specification) is one reason for this .
On a more practical level, trying to buy the right cables or adapters for your device can be a challenge. Currently, if you go to Apple’s website, click on the Accessories tab, choose to browse by product (iPhone in this case) and select the category. , you won’t actually find any double-sided USB-C cards on that side. Here’s a list of what’s new from Apple It feels a bit pricey at $29, but as far as cables go, you’re looking at a block that goes from USB to Lightning cord.
To find a cable you can actually use, you’ll have to go to the iPad or Mac sections. $19 or more For $29. But even with this cable, things are a little different. That’s because a one-meter cord provides a charging speed of up to 60 watts, while a two-meter cable can handle up to 240 watts. All versions of the iPhone 15 top out at 27W charging. However, both cables only support data transfers up to “USB 2 rates” or 480 Mbps. More annoyingly, Apple hasn’t provided specifications for the cable that comes with the iPhone 15 Pro, and it’s likely to be the same one-meter USB-C charge cable that comes with USB 2 speeds. It’s not ideal for anyone buying an iPhone 15 Pro who is strapping their more expensive handset to their thigh with a flimsy bundled cord.
Also, in the iPhone accessories category, Topping out at 20 watts, it doesn’t take full advantage of the latest iPhone’s charging speed. That’s a minor problem, because like many phones these days, the iPhone 15 doesn’t come with a bundled charging brick. So if you don’t already have an adapter from a MacBook or iPad Pro, you’ll have to spend extra on it while trying to find the wattage you actually need. It’s also unclear whether the iPhone 15 supports USB power delivery with PPS (Programmable Power Supply), which allows a device and charger to dynamically adjust voltage to achieve peak speed and performance.
Granted, the iPhone 15 lineup isn’t on sale yet, so I’m sure Apple will roll out more options to support its latest devices. But as for Apple – a company that has long prided itself on manufacturing – The introduction of USB-C on the iPhone seems confusing.