Apple is preparing to transition its mobile devices from Lightning connectors to USB-C ports. This move, while forward-thinking, will cause headaches for longtime Apple users as existing accessories become incompatible.
When Apple introduced its Lightning connector ten years ago, it sparked frustration. The new plug rendered obsolete millions of older accessories and docks designed for the classic 30-pin connector used by iPods and early iPhones.
Now history is about to repeat itself. The rumoured switch from Lightning to USB-C will make anything that uses the current connector either need an adapter or become unusable. This includes chargers, cables, speakers, headphones, keyboards, and more.
Many Current Apple Accessories Require Lightning
A wide range of Apple accessories today still rely on Lightning to function. These include:
- Keyboards, mice, and trackpads for charging
- AirPods and Beats headphones
- Official iPhone chargers and cables
- Car audio connectors
The transition will be messy and expensive. Apple customers will have to buy new USB-C replacement versions of Lightning accessories. Those with recently purchased devices may be frustrated at the fast obsolescence.
Eventual Benefits but Short-Term Drawbacks
There are clear benefits to USB-C long term. It will let Apple customers use the same cables as Android and Windows users. The new port is faster, reversible, and more durable than Lightning.
But in the next few years, Apple devotees will be forced into a mixed Lightning and USB-C scenario. New accessories and cables will be USB-C, while older ones use Lightning. Some e-waste from discarded items is inevitable too.
For Apple, moving to the universal USB-C standard makes sense. But the transition period will be painful and costly for loyal customers invested in the proprietary Lightning ecosystem.