On September 12, 2012, Apple bid farewell to its clunky 15-pin connector and ushered in a new era with a sleek, smooth, and reversible 8-pin connector known as the Lightning plug. This innovation served the Apple ecosystem remarkably well, offering a versatile range of power and data transportation options. For Apple enthusiasts, it swiftly became the “One Connector to Rule them All,” omnipresent across all of Apple’s portable devices. Beyond charging iPhones and iPads, the Lightning connector infiltrated keyboards, AirPods, the Apple Pencil, and numerous other small peripherals. Its small footprint and widespread availability, with seemingly everyone owning an Apple charger or two, cemented its status as a friend to billions of devices.
However, as devices grew increasingly power-hungry, Apple realized that USB-C held the potential to offer superior performance. As early as 2018, the iPad Pro models made the switch to USB-C, and the iPad Air followed suit in 2020, with the 10th generation iPad joining the USB-C bandwagon in 2022. Apple’s remote for the Apple TV 4K also featured a USB-C socket, signaling the beginning of the end for the Lightning connector.
It appeared as though the world was collectively transitioning to USB-C, driven in part by the European Union’s efforts to combat electronic waste and the complications arising from a multitude of charger types. In 2022, the European Parliament approved a groundbreaking measure with an overwhelming 602-to-13 vote, mandating that all devices, spanning phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, headsets, video game consoles, portable speakers, earbuds, and laptops up to 100W of power delivery, must be equipped with a USB Type-C port.
Today, as part of its iPhone 15 launch, the Cupertino-based tech giant announced the end of the road for the Lightning connector, marking 11 years since its introduction.
From a personal perspective, it’s somewhat disappointing that Apple didn’t take the lead, pun intended, several iPhone generations ago. The obsolescence of the Lightning connector had been apparent for quite some time, and it seemed as if Apple had been hoping to delay the inevitable, all in pursuit of the elusive goal of full wireless connectivity. However, the reality is that, even with powerful magnets holding your wireless charger to the back of your device, the ability to securely plug in and forget about it remains invaluable when you’re on the go.
In our steady march towards wireless technology, where wireless charging has become effortless, and wireless headphones and accessories have become the norm, why does all of this matter? The truth is that, at this point, it probably doesn’t matter significantly. Nevertheless, it’s a comfort to know that you can borrow a charger from an Android-loving friend in a pinch and that the charger you need is more likely to be readily available wherever you go, even if you inadvertently leave yours behind.