Apple’s Dream for iPhones Could Actually Be a Nightmare

This story is part of Focal point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

The iPhone 14 smartphones take Apple’s quest for a portless phone one step further, with the new models getting slimmer and stronger by ditching the SIM card slot and rely on eSIM chips.

Gone is another mechanical vulnerability to dust and water, following Apple’s choice to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from 2016 and dump the physical home button as of 2017. If you extrapolate into the future, you might expect Apple to ditch the charging and data port, ushering in the era of the portless iPhone.

I certainly hope not.

I’m all for progress, but I think it’s best that we keep some of those copper cables in our lives – even if it goes against the idea of ​​a sleek and seamless gadget that Apple is aiming for and is now becoming achievable. , as CNET senior editor Lisa Eadicicco points out.

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Slim sounds great, but listen to me. There are three major problems with a portable iPhone: discomfort when charging, slow data transfer, and rejection of wired earbuds. Here’s a look at the situation.

Wireless Charging Shortcomings for iPhones

The first major problem with a portless iPhone is that it would be more difficult to charge.

You may have charging pads in the kitchen, at the office, in your car, and maybe even on the nightstand next to your bed. However, you need to charge your phone elsewhere: at the airport, in a rental car, at your friend’s house, in a lecture hall, at a conference. Carrying around the necessary charger and cable for your “wireless” charging is even worse than carrying a regular wired charger.

Sure, some locations have them built in now, including coffee shops and airports, but you don’t want to gamble on availability. Chances are you would lose.

Wireless chargers are also more expensive, often bulkier and can be finicky about phone placement, even incorporating Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. Several times I woke up in the morning or drove for hours and found that wireless charging didn’t work.

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Wired charging is also faster, wastes less energy and doesn’t leave my phone scalding hot.

If Apple ever ditches its now-archaic Lightning port and embraces the USB-C port on iPhones, as I expect, the charging and data port will become more useful. I already use USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Framework laptop, Sony noise canceling earphones, Pixel 6 Pro phone, Pixel Buds Pro earbud case, and Nintendo Switch game console and controllers. When I travel, I always carry a USB-C charger with me, and I expect that USB-C ports will become more common in airports, planes, hotels, cars and cafes. Don’t hold your breath for a wireless charging pad stuck in an economy class seat.

“There’s no question that USB-C is way overdue on an iPhone, especially considering it’s on iPad and Mac,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi. “It’s not always possible to do wireless or MagSafe.”

iPhone data transfer rate

The convenience of wireless data transfer makes it the norm for phones. Gone are the days when we had to connect our phones to our laptops to sync and back up data.

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But if you’re one of those creatives that Apple shows off at every iPhone launch event and shoots 4K video for your indie movie, then you’ll appreciate wired data transfer to get that video to your laptop faster. That’s especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.

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A 1 minute ProRes clip I recently shot is 210 MB; imagine how fast you plow through the gigabytes when you shoot more seriously. Wired connections can also be useful for transferring lots of photos, using a tool like Apple’s Image Capture utility or Adobe’s Lightroom photo editing and cataloging software.

Wired earbuds if you can’t afford AirPods

I know, I know, AirPods or other wireless earbuds are a booming business these days. But wired headphones remain handy. They are even a retro fashion statement for some.

I like them because they don’t run out of battery or suffer from Bluetooth flaking. And they’re much harder to get rid of or drop down a street gutter while you’re running to get the bus.

Wired earbuds are much cheaper. You may be able to afford $249 second-generation AirPods Pro, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is being squeezed from smartphones, but iPhones with USB-C ports would mean you were more likely to pick up a cheap set of earbuds at the airport travel store if you forgot your AirPods.

A close-up of an iPhone 13 Pro Lightning port

I’d rather have a USB-C port than this Apple Lightning port on my iPhone, but I’d rather have either one compared to no port at all.

Stephen Shankand/CNET

Perhaps there is room for compromise: an iPhone for those who only want wireless and another model for people like me. But Apple doesn’t like to confuse consumers with choices, so I’d be surprised.

The case for portable iPhones

There are, of course, some significant benefits that we would get from a portless iPhone.

It would bring a new level of streamlinedness and reduce the amount of fiddling with cables in your life. iPhone cases are said to be stronger and more resistant to water and dust. Apple would get a little extra interior space that it could fill with a bigger battery or other electronics.

“A portable iPhone is likely to be more structurally sturdier and offer more space for the Taptic Engine or speakers or perhaps an antenna,” said Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Apple, which usually doesn’t discuss its future plans, didn’t comment on this story.

Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make a portable iPhone conceivable. More progress is probably also: better Wi-Fi. Wireless charging that works anywhere in a room, not just on a charging pad. The potential use of ultra-wideband positioning technology for fast data transfer over short distances.

I’m already enjoying today’s wireless technologies that would make a portless iPhone possible. I just think the downsides of relying solely on them outweigh the benefits.

The best future is one that keeps that charging and data port. So, Apple, please don’t throw it away either. And while your engineers are looking at the subject, how about USB-C?

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