Ever since Apple eliminated the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 in 2016, rumors have swirled that Apple ultimately goals to ditch the Lightning port subsequent for a very portless design. Certainly, analysts initially predicted that the highest-end iPhone 13 would supply a “utterly wi-fi expertise.” After all, that did not occur, however a portless iPhone 14 in 2022 seems to be simply as unlikely, for the next causes.
Apple’s longtime objective has been to design an iPhone with no exterior ports or buttons for a clear, streamlined machine, however vital hurdles nonetheless stay if it intends to supply a very wi-fi charging and information switch answer. So far as information is worried, Apple would want to look past Bluetooth due to its bandwidth limitations and depend on a quicker wi-fi protocol that permits iPhone information switch at a velocity that both matches or exceeds Lightning, in any other case the lack of the port could be seen as a backward step.
In actual fact, Apple has already developed such a protocol. MacRumors just lately found that Apple Watch Collection 7 fashions are geared up with a module that allows 60.5GHz wi-fi information switch when positioned on a proprietary magnetic dock with a corresponding 60.5GHz module. Apple in all probability would not promote this functionality as a result of it is for inside use solely. For instance, Apple Retailer workers might use the dock to wirelessly restore an Apple Watch. It is unclear how briskly its wi-fi information switch is, however our understanding is that USB 2.0 speeds as much as 480 Mbps could be potential. In different phrases, Lightning velocity.
Nonetheless, it isn’t simply information switch that may should be achieved wirelessly. With no Lightning port, you would not have the ability to bodily join your iPhone on to a pc to reset an unresponsive iPhone by restoration mode. Except Apple got here up with an alternate at-home answer – a second iteration of MagSafe with high-speed information switch capabilities, maybe – the iPhone must return to the Apple Retailer each time an over-air replace or full machine restore failed and borked the machine, which means extra irritation and inconvenience for finish customers.
For argument’s sake, as an example Apple launched “MagSafe 2.0” alongside a portless iPhone 14 and solved these information/restoration points. The present MagSafe Charger supplies as much as 15W of peak energy supply (or 12W on the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini) and expenses a appropriate iPhone lower than half as quick as a wired 20W USB-C charger, so any new model of MagSafe must ramp up the juice significantly as a way to come near current cable speeds.
Admittedly, Apple may in all probability pull off this feat (assuming it has shaken off its AirPower woes). You solely have to take a look at its rivals to see what’s already potential. Each the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Professional help as much as 21W and 23W wi-fi charging speeds, respectively, whereas the OnePlus 9 Professional boasts 50W wi-fi charging speeds due to its next-generation Warp charger, which is able to charging a useless cellphone to full energy in 43 minutes. That is quicker than an iPhone plugged straight right into a 20W charger. Xiaomi is one other chief within the subject – the 5000mAh battery in its Mi 11 Extremely cellphone may be charged from 0% to 100% inside half-hour, wirelessly.
But regardless of these velocity positive aspects in wi-fi charging, an oft-overlooked drawback is its usually poor power effectivity. In 2020, Eric Ravenscraft of Debugger discovered that wi-fi charging makes use of round 47% extra energy than wired charging for a similar quantity of energy. Except Apple shocked us with a brand new model of MagSafe boasting unprecedented power effectivity, ditching the Lightning port would certainly run counter to its much-touted environmental coverage.
And that is not the one eco-problem Apple could be inviting upon itself by going portless. Talking out in 2020 in opposition to EU deliberations on requiring a common port throughout all cell gadgets, Apple stated that eradicating the Lightning port from the iPhone would “create an unprecedented quantity of digital waste.” It is not onerous to see how this line of argument might be turned in opposition to Apple if it launched a portless iPhone in 2022. It could make hundreds of thousands of current Lightning cables, charging docks, and different adapters within the wild out of date in a single day and prepared for the trash.
After all, Apple may maybe fulfill the European Fee by adopting USB-C, however that may simply be swapping out one connector for an additional, committing the corporate to a different cable commonplace for longer. Apple would successfully be kicking its imaginative and prescient of a portless iPhone additional into the lengthy grass. Certainly, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the “foreseeable future,” and has no intention of switching to USB-C, which has a decrease water specification than Lightning. As Kuo rightly notes, such a transfer would even be detrimental to Apple’s worthwhile MFi enterprise, which is why he believes Apple is extra more likely to change on to a portless mannequin relatively than first change to USB-C.
Given these interlacing obstacles, regardless of some iPhone 14 rumors, we anticipate Apple’s subsequent smartphone to proceed to make use of Lightning ports with the choice of MagSafe, till a extra viable wi-fi charging answer comes alongside that permits for a portless iPhone design with out the attendant disadvantages. So when may that be? Frankly, it is onerous to say.
Again in 2016, Apple was rumored to be partnering with Energous to ship a “true wi-fi charging” answer, however nothing has come from it to this point. Apple remains to be believed to be researching new wi-fi charging applied sciences, and with the appearance of MagSafe, the corporate is clearly nonetheless concerned with innovating new methods to energy gadgets with out the mess of cables. How lengthy we’ll have to attend for one which powers a portless iPhone stays unknown.