Behold the first USB-C iPhone! Sadly, it is a DIY project


Behold the first USB-C iPhone! Sadly, it is a DIY project

Even though the smartphone world has been moving toward USB-C adoption in the past couple of years, one entity remains stubbornly committed to a proprietary standard. Yes, you’ve guessed it right – it’s the iPhone!

And while the latest EU proposal could drag the iPhone into the USB-C era, this legislation (assuming it passes the vote) will come into effect in 2023. This means we’re looking at an official USB-C iPhone in two years’ time… maybe.

The matter is really complicated but one man took things into his own hands. Engineer Ken Pillonel has posted a YouTube video titled “World’s First USB-C iPhone,” showing an iPhone X with a working USB-C port.

In the video, Pillonel demonstrates charging and data transfer on the modified iPhone. This project has taken up months to complete, and Ken Pillonel has a Master’s degree in robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL. This goes to show that such a mod is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. So, you probably shouldn’t try it yourself.If you feel adventurous and have an iPhone that you don’t mind toasting, the whole journey has been detailed in a series of blog posts. The idea behind this prototype is a fairly simple one, though. Pillonel took a USB-C to Lightning adapter and spent some time modifying it – swapping the USB-C male end to female, and eventually fitting everything on a PCB board.

It’s needless to say that such a procedure completely voids any warranty the device in question might have had. Furthermore, a degree in robotics helps a ton.

Why does Apple refuse to switch to USB-C?

Well, there are two official reasons, both of which seem legit enough. According to tech analyst and famous tipster Ming-Chi Kuo: “Apple believes that USB-C is detrimental to the MFi business’s profitability, and its waterproof specification is lower than Lightning and MagSafe.”

Apple has claimed that switching from Lightning to USB-C would create an “unprecedented amount of electronic waste” and disrupt “hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers.” And that’s your second reason right there.

Is the iPhone future wireless?

There’s a third option – a portless iPhone with wireless charging. And even though our recent poll showed that people think it’s a stupid idea, Apple has been spending resources and looking at ways to recover/restore data on a portless iPhone.

On the other hand, Apple’s wireless charging game is pretty dismal compared to its Far East competitors. The iPhone 13 series maximum charging speed caps at 15W for the MagSafe and compatible chargers, and only 7.5W for other Qi chargers.

Meanwhile, OPPO already offers a wireless charger with 45W charging capabilities, and it outperforms most of the wired chargers out there. So, in order for Apple to even consider a portless phone (and bypass the USB-C altogether), the company would have to upgrade its wireless charging technology substantially.

Our take

This is a difficult matter because there are a lot of factors at play. Our bet is that Apple will try to postpone the USB-C switch as much as it can but succumb to the transition eventually. A portless iPhone poses too many challenges, and given the fact that Apple has already integrated the standard into pretty much every other gadget in its portfolio, a USB-C iPhone is a certainty.Two questions remain – when will it debut, and will there be a European-only version of the USB-C iPhone? As things stand now, we’re probably looking at a USB-C-equipped iPhone 15 at the earliest. As for the second question – it would be too much of a hassle to split production and diversify the portfolio.



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