It’s official – the lightning cable is over. Bowing to EU-pressure (although they’ll probably never admit it), Apple has swapped iPhone charging cables for only the second time in history: from its proprietary lightning port to the more universal USB-C standard.
Apple had already started using USB-C in its other products, most notably the iPad and MacBook, but until this week the iPhone was the last real bastion. The introduction of USB-C on the iPhone 15 range – as well as the new AirPods Pro case – all but certainly spells the end of the lightning cable for good.
The EU directive aimed at reducing electronic waste means that any phone sold in Europe must adopt the USB standard. The idea is that a single charging cable should be able to power all devices, from your Android phone, Apple phone and laptop to a Nintendo Switch, Xbox controller, headphones and even an electric toothbrush. In short, Apple chose to conform to the rules globally, rather than create a specific iPhone 15 for the European market.
However, as useful as a universal charger sounds, USB-C isn’t without its own problems. USB-C is designed to transmit power, data, video and audio signals, but while every cable looks the same and will connect to your device, they’re not all of equal quality. You might have discovered this if you’ve ever tried to use a random USB-C charging cable to transfer data as some cables can only charge devices, others offer a fast charge, while some transmit data slowly, others work quickly, and there’s also those designed for video. This is also why USB-C charging blocks and cables range in price from a few pounds to £50 or £60 per metre.
The switch from lightning cable to USB-C also means that wired iPhone accessories and chargers are no longer natively compatible with the iPhone 15. If you’re one of the few people who own a pair of wired EarPods, for example, you’ll need a USB-C adaptor (£29, Apple.com). Or if you want to be economical, a new pair of USB-C EarPods are even cheaper (£19, Apple.com).
What’s most likely is that you’ve got a lightning cable dangling by your bedside table. The good news is that won’t be a problem, as every new iPhone 15 will arrive with a USB-C to USB-C cable included in the box, so your current iPhone charger should work with your new phone as usual. Also, if you charge wirelessly, it’ll come as no surprise that the charging port change will have zero impact on how you boost your phone’s battery.
That said, if you’ve got an extra lightning cable for the office, the car, or anywhere else, you’re either going to need a USB-C adaptor or a brand-new cable. Handily, Apple is ready to sell you both of these.
Apple’s official USB-C to lightning adaptor will turn any old iPhone accessory with a lightning connector into a USB-C one, making it instantly compatible with the iPhone 15. It’s rated for charging, data and audio, plus this adaptor is braided, so it will survive a bit of wear and tear.
If your old iPhone accessory already ends with a USB-C port, all you need is a new cable. This two-metre cable is braided to give it durability and supports charging of up to 240 watts. That’s more than the iPhone 15 can take, but enough to charge your MacBook at top speed.
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