Apple’s 2020 iPhone 12 line-up already looks exceptional. But now Apple’s much more radical iPhones plans have been revealed.
The news comes via ‘Fudge’, a new but so far reliable Apple insider who previously showed off images of the iPhone 12 redesign hidden inside iOS 14 code. And what he now reveals is Apple’s most radical iPhone change in years. He states that Apple has decided to cancel its plans to transition the iPhone 12 to USB-C and will stick with Lightning. The eye-opening consequence of this is Apple will then kill off the Lightning port on the 2021 iPhone and replace it not with USB-C, but a Smart Connector for a fully portless design.
Spelling out how disruptive Apple’s strategy is, Fudge explains that Apple will not use the Smart Connector for wired charging, instead users will be “expected” to transition to wireless. Like current iPhones, the 2021 models will be compatible with current wireless charging standards and Apple’s rejuvenated AirPower project.
And it gets even more extreme (read: controversial) from here, with the insider saying that the consequence of this fully wireless switch is Apple will no longer bundle EarPods with its 2021 iPhones to “encourage” AirPod sales.
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So what are the benefits of bypassing USB-C and jumping straight from Lightning to a Smart Connector? The cynical response is more money for Apple. Aside from increased AirPod sales, the Smart Connector (unlike USB-C) is proprietary Apple tech so it can charge accessory makers a licence fee as it does for Lightning. For consumers, the Smart Connector is magnetic so snap-on accessories like keyboards are likely to become popular but, despite being flush, the connector is not waterproof so it will need to be upgraded for iPhones to retain their water resistance credentials.
The downside, of course, is the simple dream of charging your MacBook and iPhone with the same cable now looks to be dead. Fudge says Apple is committed to this move and, whatever the machinations in the final 2021 iPhone build, “Portless is coming either way.” This information tallies with that of Jon Prosser, the standout Apple leaker this year, who claims Apple’s stance towards the iPhone can be summed up as “Never USB-C.”
Needless to say, the decision is likely to polarize Apple fans. Those who like to live on the cutting edge will be excited, but it will also make others consider upgrading to this year’s safer iPhone 12 instead. And given we already know the iPhone 12 models will introduce new screen sizes, 5G across the range, a potentially groundbreaking new chipset, its new LiDAR sensor and – most surprisingly – a significant price cut, that may well be the smart move.