Why Apple’s Next iPhone Connector Matters

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The so-called iPhone 8 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been largely responsible for the company’s share price boomlet over the past week or 10 days. Word that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) had added an enormous stake in Apple didn’t hurt either.

The iPhone 8 is expected to incorporate a curved, OLED screen, sourced from Samsung, which already uses the edge-to-edge display feature on its Galaxy S7 Edge. Another rumored change, at least according to Monday’s Wall Street Journal, is that Apple is going to ditch its proprietary Lightning connector in favor of a new USB-C connector when the iPhone 8 is released.

A USB-C cable can handle power, data and video on a single cable with a single connector. The Wall Street Journal’s sources said that a USB-C port would replace the Lightning port both for recharging and connecting peripheral devices to the iPhone 8.

Is this a big deal? It could be. Remember that Apple just ditched the headphone jack on the iPhone and forced users either to use a dongle to connect existing headsets or to buy a new set of headphones. Changing again this soon would likely make for some unhappy users.

When Apple released its new MacBook Pro laptops last year, the machine came with USB-C ports and many users complained about the high-priced dongles. Apple originally charged $25 for a Lightning-to-USB-C dongle before consumer pushback convinced the company to lower the price to $19.

For Apple purists who own the new MacBook Pro and will purchase an iPhone 8 as soon as it hits the Apple Store, a USB-C port on the phone obviates the need for a dongle to sync the computer with the phone.

But Apple-watcher website AppleInsider points out the obvious downside to switching the connector on the iPhone 8:

If Apple were to switch the default cable and wall adapter in the iPhone box to a Lightning to USB-C cable, users would be outraged, because they wouldn’t be able to use the cable with their existing computers, wall adapters, car adapters and other accessories that rely on the full-size USB port. The outcry from such a change would be far louder than current complaints about USB-C on the latest MacBooks. … Lightning may very well prove to be the last input port on Apple’s iOS devices, before it is replaced by wireless connectivity and contact charging and accessories, like the Smart Connector on the iPad Pro.

2017 marks the iPhone’s 10th birthday. Another major change to the connector is not likely to add to the festivities.