News: Apple's Rumored Switch to USB Type-C Chargers for iPhones Will Screw Over Some Users

Apple's Rumored Switch to USB Type-C Chargers for iPhones Will Screw Over Some Users

The rumors are still hot that Apple might include an 18-watt USB Type-C power adapter with the upcoming iPhone lineup so that there's fast-charging capability right out of the box. Leaked photos have surfaced that substantiate this rumor, though, they could also be fake. But how would ditching the old-style 5-watt USB Type-A power cube affect you if it's true?

When Apple started removing USB Type-A ports from MacBooks and MacBook Pros, many purchasers were upset that they had to either buy new cables, adapters, or hubs to work with the USB Type-C ports (also called USB-C ports). If the new iPhones come with a Lightning to USB-C cable, they'll appreciate the change a little more since they won't need any extra cables to sync or back up with iTunes.

However, those of us without these new USB-C-only notebooks in the MacBook family, or any computer without USB-C ports, we're getting that small nudge that it's about time to upgrade. Obviously, a Lightning to USB-C cable will not plug directly into your old MacBook, so you'll be wise not to toss out any Lightning to USB-A cables you already have when you get the yet-to-be-released iPhone.

If you have some Lightning to USB-A cables, they will still work with the upcoming iPhones and your older laptop or desktop, so hang onto them or you'll end up having to pay for new ones if you want to connect with iTunes over a wired connection. For those of you who never had an iPhone before, you'll most certainly need to fork out more money for additional cables.

While Apple includes a Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack dongle in with newer iPhones, they never included any adapters when they first got rid of USB-C on MacBooks. So it's safe to say that Apple will still not include any in newer MacBook family models, and the iPhone certainly won't have a USB-C port to USB-A plug adapter. They probably won't even make one.

USB Type-C specification version 1.3 still discourages the use of "USB Type-C receptacle to USB legacy adapters" because of potential "invalid and potentially unsafe cable connections" that people could try out. While other manufacturers do make these adapters, Apple will likely stick to USB specifications.

However, since Apple does include a Lightning dongle for its EarPods, there's a possibility they'll include an additional Lightning to USB-A cable for those with older computers. After all, Apple still sells the MacBook Air, Mac Pro, and Mac mini without USB-C ports.

The cheapest Apple-branded Lightning to USB-A cable is $19, which is $10 more per unit than the Lightning to 3.5 mm jack, which would cut into Apple's bottom line if they included one in the box. Sure, the markup on those cords is probably insane, but Apple doesn't want you to know that.

So, if you have an older computer without any USB-C ports, you'll likely either have to hold onto all your Lightning to USB-A cables or buy new ones when you upgrade to a late-2018 iPhone model.

Overall, Apple's switch to USB Type-C over Type-A is a good thing. The former can be plugged in either way while the latter only fits one way. USB-C ports are less bulky, creating slimmer laptops. They can provide more power, which means fast charging, and in some cases, even faster data transfers. So you'll eventually need to ditch the A cables anyway since everyone is going this route these days.

Still, the inclusion of a USB-C charger in the upcoming iPhone packages is just a rumor, and given that USB-C chargers for "fast charging" are more expensive overall, it's more likely that it won't even be included. Apple's 30-watt USB-C power adapter that works with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X costs $49, so the rumored 18-watt one is likely to cost $19, ten bucks more than the current 5-watt power cube.

Either way, you're going to have to deal with more wires if you want faster charging and compatibility with older devices. That is until you convert fully to a USB-C-only lifestyle with added wireless charging.

Cover photo by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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