iPhone 15 may get USB-C, but the rest of the world isn’t ready for USB-C yet
The iPhone’s days with the Lightning port are numbered. With the European Union approving a law last year that requires a common charging port on devices, Apple will no longer be able to include its proprietary Lightning port on its products, including the iPhone. Instead, USB-C charging will be the standard going forward.
We are slowly inching toward the December 28, 2024 deadline, which is the point where phones without USB-C ports can’t be sold within the European Union. And that’s going to force Apple’s hand, potentially as soon as this fall’s iPhone 15 release. Those phones are widely expected to get USB-C ports to beat the EU’s deadline.
It’s not just the EU, by the way — India has also recently joined the list of countries (opens in new tab) that will require smartphones to migrate to USB-C by 2025. This makes it even less likely that Apple would create different models for EU/India and the rest of the world.
But even if the iPhone 15 is ready for USB-C this year, it makes me wonder if the rest of the world is ready for USB-C charging, I recently traveled halfway around the world with my Google Pixel 7 Pro, which is an excellent phone in its own right and one that happens to already include a USB-C charging port. I have had no complaints with the Pixel 7 Pro’s fast charging so far, but traveling with this phone was a nightmare.
Traveling with a USB-C phone
I was excited to take my Pixel 7 Pro for my holiday travels since it is one of the best camera phones around. I was going to travel from the U.S. to India, and the first thing I thought of was a converter plug that I would probably need in India to fit into the electrical sockets there. Most travel converters available only had a USB-A port. The Pixel 7 Pro, like most Android phones, ships with a USB Type-C to Type-C cable. There is no provision or converter for an USB-A port anywhere.
I quickly ordered a Type-C to Type-A converter on Amazon (opens in new tab) for $8. Unfortunately, this didn’t end my struggles with getting my phone to charge on this trip.
Getting on the flight, I quickly realized that the only port to charge a phone available on the plane was a Type-A one. I panicked — the Pixel 7 Pro has an underwhelming battery life, even if it has an excellent charging infrastructure. This phone would not last a 10-hour flight, definitely not with all the movies I had downloaded to watch.
The only thing that rescued me was my little $8 converter that I had purchased. Charging using that was extremely slow, but at least it was something. My excruciatingly long journey involved a stop at London’s Heathrow Airport where I would have to change flights. Again, at the Heathrow, I noticed all the charging stations only had provisions for USB-A charging.
It’s not just the airline I was traveling on for this trip that has limited charging options. I had a similar experience during my summer travel to Europe on another airline. That time, I had my iPhone with me luckily so the lack of USB-C chargers wasn’t an issue — at least until the iPhone 15 makes its debut, reportedly.
USB-C: It’s more than just the phones
My travel experience made it clear that the world does not seem ready for USB-C charging even if legislators were pushing for it. Even if a phone does come with a USB-C port, you’ll still need a USB-A to USB-C cable to take advantage of many publicly available charging stations. That seems to defeat the purpose of fast data transfer speeds and charging. But until there’s an upgrade to the infrastructure in planes, airports and other public places, it will probably be a sacrifice we’ll have to make.
USB-C is around 33% faster than Lightning when it comes to data transfer, which means it will definitely be good news for users. At the same time, Apple has argued the move to USB-C will create more e-waste as users toss out old Lightning cables. We will have to see what kind of cable Apple decides to go with for the iPhone 15 series if this is the phone that makes the switch.
Creating one charging standard is better for everyone in the long run, but infrastructure needs to play catch up. So initially, this is going to be a slightly sticky situation for most people transitioning from the good old Lightning or USB-A to USB-C.
During CES 2023, we learned that Qi2 wireless charging will bring MagSafe technology to Samsung phones. This will unify wireless charging across Samsung and iPhones and it’s a beneficial move for consumers. Hopefully, we will see the benefits of traveling with USB-C in the future as well without a whole host of cables or converters holding us back.
Next: I used an AirTag to track my luggage — here’s what happened.