Apple’s dream for iPhones could actually be a nightmare

Apple’s dream for iPhones could actually be a nightmare

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

the iPhone 14 smartphones go a step further in Apple’s quest for a portless phone, making new models sleeker and stronger by ditching the SIM card slot and relying on eSIM chips.

Gone is another mechanical vulnerability to dust and water, following Apple’s decision to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack starting in 2016 and dump physical home button as of 2017. Extrapolating into the future, Apple may dump the charging and data port next, beginning the era of the portless iPhone.

I sure hope not.

I’m all for progress, but I think it’s better that we keep some of those copper wires in our lives, even though that goes against the idea of ​​a sleek, seamless device that Apple aspires to and is now becoming feasible, as CNET senior editor Lisa Eadicicco points out.

Elegant sounds great, but hear me out. There are three big problems with a portless iPhone: charging issues, slow data transfer, and the rejection of wired headphones. Here’s a look at the situation.

Wireless charging shortcomings for iPhones

The first big problem with an iPhone without a port is that it would be more difficult to charge.

You may have charging pads in the kitchen, at the office, in your car, and maybe even on the nightstand next to your bed. However, he must charge his phone elsewhere: at the airport, in a rental car, at a friend’s house, in a university lecture hall, at a conference. Carrying the charger and cable needed for your “wireless” charging is even worse than carrying an ordinary wired charger.

Sure, some places now have them built in, including coffee shops and airports, but you don’t want to mess with availability. Chances are good, you’d lose.

Wireless chargers are also more expensive, often bulkier, and can be finicky about phone placement, even using Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. On several occasions I woke up in the morning or drove for hours and found that the wireless charging was not working.

Wired charging is also faster, wastes less power, and doesn’t make my phone too hot.

If Apple ever ditches its now archaic Lightning port and adopts the USB-C port on iPhones, as I hope it does, its charging and data port becomes more useful. I already use USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Framework laptop, Sony noise-canceling headphones, Pixel 6 Pro phone, Pixel Buds Pro headphone case, and Nintendo Switch game console and controllers. When I travel, I always carry a USB-C charger with me, and I hope that USB-C ports will become more common in airports, airplanes, hotels, cars, and coffee shops. Don’t hold your breath for a wireless charging pad stuck in an economy class seat.

“There’s no question that USB-C is long overdue on an iPhone, especially given that it’s on iPad and Mac,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “It’s not always possible to make it wireless or MagSafe.”

iPhone data transfer speed

The convenience of wireless data transfer makes it the norm for phones. Gone are the days when we needed to connect our phones to our laptops to sync and back up data.

But if you’re one of those creative types Apple shows off at every iPhone launch event, shooting 4K video for your indie movie, you’ll appreciate cable data transfer to get that video to your laptop faster. That’s especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.


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A 1-minute ProRes clip I shot recently is 210MB; imagine how fast you’ll go through gigabytes if you’re shooting more seriously. Wired connections can also be good for transferring lots of photos, using a tool like Apple’s Image Capture utility or Adobe’s Lightroom photo editing and cataloging software.

Wired headphones if you can’t afford AirPods

I know, I know, AirPods or some other wireless headphones these days are a booming business. But wired headphones are still useful. They are even a retro fashion statement for some.

I like them because they don’t run out of battery or suffer from Bluetooth flaking. And they’re much harder to lose or drop down a roadside gutter while you’re running to catch the bus.

Wired headphones are much cheaper. You may be able to afford the second-gen AirPods Pro for $249, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is being phased out of smartphones, but iPhones with USB-C ports would mean you’re more likely to be able to grab a cheap pair of headphones at the airport travel shop if you forgot your AirPods.

A close-up view of an iPhone 13 Pro Lightning port

I’d rather have a USB-C port than this Apple Lightning port on my iPhone, but I’d rather have either port than no port.

Stephen Shankand/CNET

Maybe there’s room for compromise: one iPhone for the wireless-only crowd, and another model for people like me. But Apple doesn’t like to force confusing choices on consumers, so I’d be surprised.

The portless iPhone case

There are, of course, some significant advantages that we would get from a portless iPhone.

It would bring a new level of elegance and reduce the number of cables in your life. iPhone cases would be stronger and more impervious to water and dust. Apple would get some extra interior space that it could fill with a bigger battery or other electronics.

“An iPhone without a port would probably be structurally more rigid and allow more room for the Taptic Engine or speakers or maybe an antenna,” said Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Apple, which does not normally discuss its future plans, did not comment for this story.

Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make a portless iPhone possible. There’s also likely to be more progress: better Wi-Fi. Wireless charging that works anywhere in a room, not just on a charging pad. The potential use of ultra-wideband positioning technology also for fast short-range data transfer.

I already enjoy today’s wireless technologies that would make a portless iPhone possible. I just think the drawbacks of relying exclusively on them outweigh the pros.

The best future is the one that maintains that charging and data port. So Apple, please don’t give it up too. And while your engineers are looking into the matter, how about USB-C?

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