back to article Lightning struck: Apple switches to USB-C for iPhone 15 lineup

Apple surprised almost no one on Thursday with the announcement of several iPhone 15 models and a renovated smartwatch, the details of which were more or less known or guessed by the cadre of analysts, journalists, and pundits who follow such things. The iGiant called its media event "Wonderlust" as if to evoke a time when …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

    Hang on, am I supposed to understand that, in the middle of the Grand Canyon, two hiking days out from civilization, I can still call 911 if I have an iPhone ?

    Have they managed to include Iridium technology in a slab 8mm thick ?

    Somehow I doubt that. Have you seen an Iridium phone ?

    Or does Apple have a deal with Starlink ? Because if so, Apple might want to find a way to make sure that His Muskiness doesn't wake up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and shut them off.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      Maybe the battery emits smoke signals? :)

      Note that these signals are all extremely low volume when it comes to data - it's a bit like early SMS which was originally more designed a a gimmick, causing providers to scramble to update their gear when it emerged to be a major hit (predictable with the phone tariffs in those days).

      According to Tom's Guide Apple uses Globalstar for this.

      1. BartyFartsLast

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        ISTR SMS was a byproduct of the GSM protocol, a spare few bytes which allowed text messaging?

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      It is the same emergency text message over satellite system as the iPhone 14. What about "reach out" implies to you that it must be voice?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        "What about "reach out" implies to you that it must be voice?"

        I think you just answered your own question there :-) What does "reach out" even mean?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

          Its a common phrase in the US. "I'll reach out to you next week" in the US would mean that person will call, text or email. Or maybe even show up in person, if it is said to your next door neighbor or someone you work with.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

            I know, and that was my point. Someone assumed "reach out" meant a voice call and corrected them by saying Apple Phones will send a text message. "Reach out", by it's own ambiguous definition, is some unspecified method of communication, so using "reach out" when there is only one specific method of communication referred to is wrong because it adds ambiguity to a circumstance that is specific.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

              Not having it specified in this context is not an issue. Apple is saying you use this in an emergency, or now for roadside assistance from AAA. Do you really care whether that is sent via voice, text or carrier pigeon so long as you get the help you need when outside of cell coverage?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      This tech has been around since before 2010 when Garmin Launched SPOT

      [...]SPOT’s release of its first-generation device was a game-changer, picking up some steam around the year 2010. Other GPS devices like PLB’s (Personal Locator Beacons) and heavy, bulky satellite phones existed at the time, but there was nothing quite like the SPOT, with its tracking and the ability to send a check-in message.[...]

      Source : downthetrail.com/gear/spot-gen-3-gps-tracker-review-how-to-use-gen-4/

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        That's irrelevant, because you have to carry a special device with you to get that functionality. That's fine if you are e.g. going on a weekend hike in the mountains and decide to carry a specialty device to be prepared, but it doesn't help the 99% of people who aren't doing things like that and don't own a special device that is only useful for such adventures.

        Most emergencies out of cellular range happen to people who aren't prepared in that way because they aren't doing something they know puts them in danger. Maybe their car breaks down on a desert highway, or they skid off a road and down into a ravine.

        The reason smartphones have been so successful is that they fulfill a lot of roles that used to be separate devices like pagers, point and shoot camera, videorecorder, dictation machine, GPS, compass, and a bunch of other stuff. You might have owned (or still own in your case) a separate GPS but you probably don't carry it with you 24x7, so your phone is the best tool for that when that's all you have, even if a high end dedicated GPS is more accurate probably especially with altitude.

        A device to send an emergency message via satellite is another such feature for the iPhone, and will become standard on many Androids in the near future. Just like photographers say the best camera is the one you have with you, it is clear the best device to contact help via satellite in an emergency is the one you have with you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

          > That's irrelevant, because you have to carry a special device with you to get that functionality.

          It is relevant.

          Because it shows that the tech has been available since 2010.

          So it *could* have been put into more devices since then, including, as you point out, ones that a lot of people habitually carry around with them.

          But, instead, we have had to wait over a dozen years, whilst Apple (and everyone else) whittle away at their list of "features", wringing out the last tedious bits of "improvement" from one model to the next. Now they can no longer impress with yet another camera tweak, BANG - a new and exciting thing that nobody has ever seen before*!

          Just think how many people could have benefitted over the last decade if everyone had had this available, not just the very few who'd sought out the feature in 2010.

          *in a gadget that also happens to be a phone

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

            Exactly. You are quite rightly pointing out that any phone manufacture could have done this in recent years with existing technology. But the Apple fanbois will downvote you for pointing out that Apple didn't invent this tech despite implying that they did. The fanbois will continue to believe that Apple invented the smartphone and everything included with it or since added to it :-)

    5. rajivdx

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      It's been there since iPhone 14 Pro and it works. You can even test it out in settings where it scans for the satellite.

    6. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      You can select from a choice of pre-prepared text messages to send. It will help you align the phone perfectly with the sky to send it, and it will take a few minutes to send.

    7. Hurn

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      Err.. "one more thing" time, again, on Apple's way to the bank.

      It sounds like a tie-in subscription for/to AAA (aka "Triple A" or American Automobile Association) service may be required to use the emergency satellite communication feature.

      No doubt, a "provide your credit card number (or Apple Pay account) and get a free month of AAA" 'deal,' which possibly bills you the full, annual subscription charge on day number 29 of your "month."

      Want to cancel your AAA account, because you never use it? No problem, just call this toll free number, wait on hold for an hour, and speak with our customer service specialists in (whichever country has cheapest rates and worst English).

      Oh wait, there's more. AAA will spam you with hard and soft copy, forever, to "Come back, we miss you (& your money)."

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        I'm surprised by the tie-in. Is the service unavailable outside the US? If it's available outside of the US, why was the tie-in even necessary?

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

          Your breakdown insurer needs to be set up to receive the messages, and needs to have an app that is capable of transmitting them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

            Yet the iPhone 14 version of the same thing didn't need to have a tie-in...

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

              That was only for 911/999/112 etc calls, not vehicle breakdown.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        It sounds like a tie-in subscription for/to AAA (aka "Triple A" or American Automobile Association) service may be required to use the emergency satellite communication feature

        No, you only need an AAA subscription if you want to call AAA roadside assistance via this feature. You know, for stuff like "I have a flat tire and I'm too lazy to change it myself" that you can't call emergency services for. You don't need an AAA subscription to call emergency services (i.e. 911, 999 whatever) but I'm pretty sure a cop won't change your tire.

        As for canceling subscriptions to stuff, Apple makes that VERY easy. If you buy a subscription via an app it can be canceled easily in the App Store app with a single click. Best of all it is only the renewal that is canceled, it will continue working through the term of the subscription - meaning it is easy to subscribe to something you just want to check out for a trial period or whatever and IMMEDIATELY cancel just after you initiate the subscription but still have the ability to use it for that trial period or first month or whatever.

        But please, keep talking about stuff you clearly have no idea about as you obviously have never used an iPhone.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        Maybe you haven't read up on the whole story, but Apple went to town on the emergency feature, investing money in ensuring they could handle the emergency messages.

        As for the AAA linkage, they tend to already have call centres so it's more a matter of linking them in, no doubt with some agreement to take a percentage of the revenue.

        I work for an equivalent in Europe, and we're interested. Out of reach areas still exist, I suspect because there is not enough return on investment, and people can get into real trouble. I think coverage ought to be mandated, but in many countries the responsible authorities don't even check if the signal strength maps they get handed from the companies correspond with actual reality..

    8. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

      I've been able to send signals to a satellite for 20+ years from a device no bigger than a matchbox.

      The Register used it themselves for weather-balloon and other projects.

      In those 20 years, mobile phones have come into their own so I'm not at all surprised that it's possible, especially given as this isn't the first generation of phones to feature it.

      It's just a very short emergency "high-power" data message on reserved frequencies, not a phone call.

      Iridium is so old that the kit you're talking about is basically obsolete nowadays.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "can reach out for help when there's no cell signal coverage over satellite connections"

        That may be but you wouldn't want to devote a matchbox sized amount of space inside your phone to this one feature you may never use, would you? Nor would you be happy if all the phone OEMs raised the price of every model by $100 to pay for this addition of something you may (or at least hope) you will never use.

        It had to become small enough, and cheap enough, to be added to phones before it was practical. And it competes with other additions like fancy cameras with optical zoom that also take up space and increase cost and a LOT more people want. Even though that fancy camera won't do you any good at all in an emergency, unless the larger outside lens covering makes it possible to reflect the sun and catch the attention of a passing plane lol

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank God for fast forward..

    OK, there are a few things that are interesting but fast forwarding through these events is mandatory for me because there's only so many times I can hear 'excited' and 'incredible' before the lack of vocabulary starts to annoy me.

    To be honest, the main reason I'm interested because it's time to update the iPhone 11 I have, and I have been messing with a lightning to USB3 adaptor enough to discover iOS already has support for network adaptors and cameras. I haven't tried a screen yet. And no, not super interested pictures or gaming. I know it's a massively profitable industry but it ain't for me - I like a bigger screen and the Playstation 5 has very quietly snuck back on the market after that major shortage :).

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Thank God for fast forward..

      Bear in mind that the iPad has been a development test bed for USB-C/TB tech for several years now. Apple knew this day was coming - the only thing stopping them was milking the lightning cable royalties for all the were worth.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

        If that is the case then why can I buy a USB->Lightning cable for just a couple of quid in my local Pound store? And they are 1.5m or even 2.0 long instead of the short Apple ones.

        I've never paid Apple directly for one of them.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

          The manufacturers will in theory have had to pay licensing costs, as the connector is a proprietary design.

          It's unclear how significant a role the EU played in pushing them to USB-C - this offers higher power rating and data transfer speeds, and is already in use on the higher-end iPads. They may well have made this move anyway.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

            I think the ruling probably stopped them from launching a new version of Lightning that would be USB-3 but not USB-C. I suspect that it would be difficult to argue in court in favour of a proprietary connection for phones but not for tablets and notebooks.

            1. 43300 Silver badge

              Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

              If they were going to produce a 'Lighning 2' they would probably have done it several years ago and used it on the iPads, rather than moving them to USB-C

          2. ThomH

            Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

            Although USB-C doesn't offer higher data transfer rates in the non-Pro models this year because they retain last year's USB controller, which could afford to be a cheap USB-2-style controller because it only had to deal with lightning connectors.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

            They were already on their way with this.

            Also, let's not forget that we basically ended up with USB-C exactly because of Apple. The lightning connector idea came about because at the time when the iPhone switched to a simpler socket (the 30 pin was too cumbersome and vulnerable) there was only micro USB, and some of the cables on the market were a single stand of copper per wire. Ramming the amount of power through such a cable would have caused fires (which, btw, other manufacturers didn't seem to be too bothered about), so Apple used its ability to really miniaturise things to create a cable with a chip that could *tell* the phone it was capable - that's part of why it needed certification.

            And so we now have a chip in a cable telling connected devices how much current it can handle: USB-C.

            The only difference between the 'regular' and the 'pro' is that the USB functionality in the Pro is part of the main SoC, and thus a lot faster. I expect that to make its way into all devices - if they keep insisting on sticking stupidly high resolutions in their cameras and then default to 'live' mode (which you can't avoid, it resets to that every time you exit the photo app) you will need a decent transfer rate to get that data off the phone before the heat death of the Universe. I don't need that resolution, I would prefer to have an option that leaves the largest dimensional value 1280 or so so I can email an image without having to make that extra choice or store it in a sane amount of space. I'm impressed with how it processes images (even in post), but I may be one of the people who doesn't need it - nor do I appreciate someone emailing or messaging me pictures that big..

            Microsoft pushed us with brutal inefficiency towards faster and faster machines in cohorts with Intel, I think Apple is now pushing bandwidth upgrades with ISPs..

            1. Casca Silver badge

              Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

              Ah yes. All hail apple...

              1. Robin

                Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

                Ah yes. All hail apple...

                There's "all hail Apple" and there's "all hait Apple", and the truth lies somewhere between.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: milking the lightning cable royalties

                Absolutely not, but you have be very careful of bias - negative or positive. Even Microsoft has the occasional good idea. Rare, but it does happen.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Thank God for fast forward..

        They also have to figure out a way of artificially limiting transfer speed as a product differentiator. As with the iPad, so with the iPhone.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Thank God for fast forward..

      My previous two Android phones (4 years apart each) both supported USB 3.0 and so many devices by default that it was basically a PC. Apple still don't support USB3.0 on their low end models here.

      Samsung themselves even make a thing of this with DeX, which when it detects any screen automatically makes it into a "desktop" Android OS. It's been in the OS for years, DeX is just one implementation to make it a bit prettier.

      And I've been able to connect USB / Bluetooth mice (and you get a cute little cursor immediately) and keyboards alongside the touch/OSK since the days of my Samsung Ace series cheapy-smartphone.

      Currently my phone has free software for full SDR functionality (including dump1080, SDR app, airband receivers, FM radio and DVB-T receiving apps), one for all webcams (and even some antique and difficult-to-drive ancient models via a very cheap paid app, including a snake-cam and microscope I bought 20+ years ago), and I carry a tiny USB-3 hub with Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, SD-card, etc. that "just works" on Android and has on every phone I've tried... except all but the most recent Apples.

      "already has support for network and cameras" is a laughably "recent" addition for Apple compared to just about any other smartphone, even the iPhone 11.

      Yet again, Apple just cripples a phone on release and then finally lets you "use" those standards at your own expense much later if you buy adaptors or upgrade.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank God for fast forward..

        Yes, but thanks to a willfully contained device I have yet to get a user come to me with an infection on their phone. That's why we ended support for Android devices in our BYOD policy, it was more Bring Your Own Disaster.

        That said, the security team are apparently planning to switch to InTune because we're a Microsoft house (let's not go there, I know from a security perspective that's like trying to protect water with a colander - as far as I can see there's so much leakage to Microsoft that I wonder what would happen if someone manages to break in at Redmond). I hope that will use at least the container based approach you get with profiles as that works, and has the advantage that you can zap all data associated with, say, a work account like email, calendar, notes in about 10 seconds flat if your executives have to pass dodgy border controls such as found in the US or China. A fully formatted phone leads to questions.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All four models include USB-C charging ports, but the Pro models support faster data transfer (USB 3 at up to 10 Gb/s). The lesser models will have to settle for USB 2 at up to 480 Mb/s

    Money-grubbing penny-pinching arseholes. I see little reason to get a 15 over a discounted 14.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      I bought one at launch last year and have never used Lightning for data, so the speed of the future USB-C port seems completely irrelevant as far as I can tell. I suppose people who take tons of photographs and videos on a daily basis might want to download them via wire but that's about the only use for a phone's wired connection these days.

      1. Gordon 10

        The wire is still useful for fastest charging rates.

        USB-C should offer an uplift over lightning. 30W->35W has been rumoured with the correct charger. (eg a MBP USB-PD one for example)

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          I charge my phone overnight, typically every other night. I'm actually still using the old 5W USB-A charger I got several iPhones ago because I haven't bothered switching to the USB-C charger and cable that came with the last two. I figure it doesn't matter how fast it charges since I'm sleeping, and faster charging wears the battery faster so it is probably smarter to charge at 5W if you don't care if it takes a few hours.

          1. Piro Silver badge

            Eh it's not recommended to charge your phone when you're asleep for safety reasons, even though everyone does.

            1. Piro Silver badge

              That's a lot of downvotes for official advice from many fire services. Oh well.

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        USB 3.x can, if Apple deems its customers worthy, produce a video signal without brutal compression and downsampling. Upper-range Android phones have been capable of this for years. Some can even operate as an independent laptop on an external monitor - mouse, keyboard, native 4K monitor resolution, and a desktop UX.

        1. BartyFartsLast

          That exactly.

          I recently showed an iPhone devotee intern how easy it is to connect my ancient Android phone to mouse, keyboard, external storage, HDMI monitor, RTL SDR dongle etc. and they were suitably annoyed that their iGadget was so limited.

          I'm sure Apple will invent it and announce it as a spectacular industry first pretty soon though.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            ancient Android phone to mouse, keyboard,

            Sony Ericsson Xperia running Android 4.0.x does this, though I didn't connect RTL SDR (have done on an Android 8 tablet). It's older than an iPhone 4s. Still goes and still installs many Playstore Apps. Battery clips in. SD card. Even an HDMI socket. Wireless screen casting seems rubbish on every new gadget/TV.

            The iPhone 4S has been a paperweight for years.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ancient Android phone to mouse, keyboard,

              .. then again, the iPhone 6 I sold to someone last year was still receiving security patches although its OS was quite a few versions behind. That's 8+ years of security updates, whereas you have to be careful to pick the right Android brand to get more than a year.

              Given the business I'm in, that alone justifies buying an iPhone. I can't risk buying a phone with an OS made by a company whose main business is data theft and violating privacy. Google only started adding controls when they saw it was popular in iOS, and even then it was a half assed effort, a bit like a kid you've told to do something but they don't really want to. Or like Sony being told to stop preloading their gear with crap software.

              So, in summary, your criteria are different to mine, and we buy accordingly.

              Also, if your iPhone 4 is a paperweight, Apple is the only company that has maximised its ability to recycle (and actually shares this tech) so hand it in at an Apple store.

              Or keep using it as a paperweight, of course, I used an IBM RS6000 as a doorstop for years so I can totally see that work :).

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Apple has always supported a Lightning to HDMI cable that provided a high quality image, no downsampling or compression required. Brutal or otherwise. Lightning may have been limited when used for USB, but it was capable of far higher speeds as the HDMI adapter demonstrated. Maybe it had enough pep to output HDMI but couldn't quite handle USB3 speeds? It was designed well before USB-C or USB3 appeared, after all, so I could imagine its design criteria may have been "enough for full HD HDMI output" and that's it.

          Rumor has it that the "USB-C" port can output in DP 1.4 mode up to 4Kp60. I don't know if that's true, but there were rumors about it having some Thunderbolt capabilities which would jive with that claim. Not sure if that's just the Pro version or all iPhone 15s, and since it is a rumor take it with a grain of salt until phones get in people's hands and it can be confirmed.

          The reason why the non Pro iPhone 15s only support USB2 speeds turns out to be rather mundane. They use last year's A16 SoC, which only includes a USB2 controller while the A17 used in the Pro phones includes a USB3 controller.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I quite often connect my phone to our TV using a cable as the TV doesn't support Miracast and it's the best way to transfer data from an old phone to a new one.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          iPhones have always supported HDMI output from Lightning (with an adapter) and they use wifi to transfer data from one phone to another (or you can sync from iCloud) I suppose a wire would be faster at USB3 speeds but buying a new phone doesn't happen often enough that I care how long the data transfer takes.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Always? AirPlay is DLNA with a couple of bits to keep it proprietary. I remember trying to share photos with people with I-Phones via Bluetooth years ago and it simply wasn't possible… In all these areas Apple follows where others lead.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              What does that have to do with Lightning using HDMI or iPhones using wifi to copy from old to new phones? It sounds like you are looking for anything to whine about Apple not doing what you want in the way you want it. Don't like, buy Android maybe they do things the way you want.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I don't know about iPhones but I've been using iPads to drive large screens for years. You can see that the OS has support for it because the screen ratio changes the moment it picks up the presence of a HDMI adaptor. This was in the days before you had all these wireless adaptors so it's been around for a long time.

              That said, I must admit I have no idea at what speed that data was provided, this was more for static imaging and webpages that were reloaded every 5 mins so refresh rate wasn't really an issue.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Pirate

      And check out the price of Apple's cables. Of course there'll be enough idiots to make selling them worthwhile.

      1. Handy Plough

        Yes, Apple kept Lightning so they could fleece the sheep. This line of thinking is so arrogantly stupid, there is no point in countering.

    3. botfap

      Im still on a 12 Mini for the work line and a 12 Pro for personal, purely for the camera. I still see no compelling reason to upgrade. Maybe its because I just use a £10 per month pre pay sim with 40GB data and unlimited texts / calls, including EU roaming and buy the handsets at retail. I dont do mobile contracts

      Those of you that felt the need to upgrade to the latest 13/14/15s, what were the driving factors in your upgrade decision? I just dont see any

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Gimp

        For me, it is because my 8+ is getting a bit old now.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        I will be very interested in buying an iPhone 15 for myself.......in about 4 to 5 years time.

        Those people upgrading to 13/14/15 now would probably be interested in 5G.

      3. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Mama needs a new phone

        I upgraded to a 13 two years ago so that I could pass the XR to my Mum so that she could stop using the 6 that I gave her before that.

  4. PhilipN Silver badge

    More discarded cables

    Yeah yeah I already have cupboards-full of those.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: More discarded cables

      Lightning is prone to failure in my experience, so I’m happy to throw the cables in the bin a little earlier than usual.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: More discarded cables

        Yes, most of the ones I've seen allow users to scrunch them into their bags and you can normally see the cable stress around the connection. See less of this with USB-C cables which tend to be a bit chunkier.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: More discarded cables

        The most common problem with lightning is lint-in-the-hole. I don't know if USB-C has that problem.

        1. Wyrdness

          Re: More discarded cables

          I recently cleaned an entire belly-button's worth of fluff from inside the lightning connector on my phone. So it's definitely a lint-collector. I haven't had much of a problem with usb-c so far, but I don't keep my laptop in my pockets, so it's probably exposed to far less debris. I did manage to get a small splinter of wood in the usb-c socket of my laptop, which caused problems until I managed to fish it out.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: More discarded cables

            OK, so how does you phone pick up fluff from your belly button?

            Pics or it didn't happen.

            :)

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Roadside Assistance via satellite

    "Beam me up, Scotty"?

  6. MatthewSt

    Where do we go from here...?

    So is this the end of innovation for physical phone connectors now? If no one is allowed to choose what kind of connector we can use then we're stuck with (the many variants of) USB-C. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for standardising things, but if this decision had been made 10 years ago then the standard would have been micro-USB and we wouldn't have reversable cables or "power delivery".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      > So is this the end of innovation for physical phone connectors now?

      No, just the end for pointlessly proprietary connectors

      > but if this decision had been made 10 years ago then the standard would have been micro-USB...

      Funny thing, the sensible phones from 10 years ago _did_ (still do!) have micro-USB - and before that, they had mini-USB.

      Because the standardisation is to use USB, the standard. Not "USB as it exists now and you are never allowed to follow it as that spec improves".

      Although, I think you knew that, really, deep down, when you think about it - and bother reading more of the coverage of this requirement.

      1. Mishak Silver badge

        "just the end for pointlessly proprietary connectors"

        Though it is probably worth remembering that there was nothing comparable to Lightning when it was originally introduced to the market.

      2. MatthewSt

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        Geniunely didn't know that. Thought the requirement was for it to use USB-C in particular. More than happy to ditch proprietary connectors. My last 3 phones have all been USB-C anyway so I confess I'd only skim-read the requirements.

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      Our new masters, the EU, are calling the shots. Since when did the EU believe in innovation? I trust in overweening bureaucracy!

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        Because a proprietary connector with a 480 Mbps transfer speed in the Year of our Lord 2023 was so innovative.

      2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        The EU believes in one thing above all: a free market with competition. That’s not the same kind of “free market” they have in the USA, where companies are free to build monopolies, lock in customers and seek rent from them forever; it’s the actual “free market”, where new entrants can get a foothold by offering a better product, and customers can leave a product they no longer like using.

        “Innovation” is a bullshit-word thrown around by tech companies when what they actually want is customer lock-in: you can innovate and remain compatible with standards (even Apple did it - the original MacOS X is a great example). In a truly free market, innovative products still reward their producer, but the difference is that the reward is temporary, and when competitors match or exceed that innovation that reward transfers to them, and everyone benefits. In a market with actual competition, there is more innovation, because you can’t sit on your ass for almost a decade doing nothing much except raising your prices, safe in the knowledge that you’ve locked in your customers with bundled services and sunk costs on incompatible anciliaries.

        But seriously, who in this day and age thinks it’s not stupid to own an iPhone, a Mac and an iPad, and yet need both a USB-C and a Lightning cable. Lightning was “innovative” right until USB-C came along. Retaining it long after a better solution existed (and one which Apple used on other product lines) was just another example of Apple trying to bar the customer from leaving its walled garden.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Where do we go from here...?

          "But seriously, who in this day and age thinks it’s not stupid to own an iPhone, a Mac and an iPad, and yet need both a USB-C and a Lightning cable."

          I don't disagree, but worth noting that the Macbooks are back to using a proprietary magnetic connector. Yes they can charge via USB-C but that then uses up one of the small number of ports, requires a cable of a higher power rating than would come with a phone - and does it support the maximum power rating on the higher-end models of Macbook?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where do we go from here...?

          The EU believes in one thing above all: a free market with competition.

          They used to say that about the British empire too!

          1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

            Re: Where do we go from here...?

            Yes, but nobody with eyes or a brain would have believed that about the British Empire, while there is ample evidence of the EU walking the walk on enforcing market competition, often against the will of very large domestic corporations.

            Anyone who’s interested in what the “free market” of the British Empire looked like could ask themselves why the Indian independence movement adopted a spinning wheel as its emblem, and go from there. But, in summary: the UK farmed its Empire: for food, for raw materials, for troops, and for customers for British-made goods. Any doubts about the “benefits” to members of being in the British Empire can be dispelled by noting how quickly everyone left once Britain’s military strength was depleted in the aftermath of WW2 to a level that made reprisal against rebellion unlikely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      USB-D will arrive when the patent money from USB-C dries up. That's the main reason these things change shape occasionally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        usb-d won't surface, but usb-c + usb 5 will, possibly, but not soon. But, in the meantime, we're already in another uber-clusterfuck (for consumers) and gravy ocean for manufacturers for usb-c cables, because the number of options re. speed of those usb-c cables and what they can / can not do (power, data, how much, how fast,whether it's usb 2 standard, usb 3.0 standard, 3.1 or 3.2 usb, etc, etc) is mind-fucking-bending. And it hasn't even started in earnest.

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      "So is this the end of innovation for accelerator pedal placement now? If no one is allowed to choose which pedal they want to accelerate we can use then we're stuck with (the many variants of) pedals that are on the right. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for standardising things, but if this decision had been made 10 years ago then the standard would have been mechanical pedals and we wouldn't have cruise control or speed limiting".

      USB is a large collection of very-backwards-compatible standards. USB-C is a connector standard, the same as microUSB. The two are very different things.

      microUSB from 10 years ago would work fine today, including everything from USB 1.0 to USB3.2.

      In this case, we're picking a connector standard, and a base-level power charging standard (which only forms the legal minimum and doesn't prevent upgrades, innovation and negotiation of newer power standards).

      What we've stopped in the process is a non-standard, patented connector, pretty monopolistically developed, that does nothing special and only one company in the entire industry has any interest in using.

      We will also have to standardise electric car charging cables, and I don't want the precedent that Ford can make a Ford-only cable that you have to have Ford adaptors or go to a Ford charger to use... which is exactly what happen if we don't dictate base-level standards occasionally.

      Imagine how much simpler travel would be if we all used 220V and a standardised plug that comes with all usage cases? We spend hundreds of millions every year on pieces of plastic, and wheatstone bridges to cope with foreign electrics in billions of devices that only a tiny minority ever get used abroad, and then only for very fleeting moments for the most part.

      And there's nothing in a Lightning cable that cannot be delivered over USB-C in exactly the same way, and nothing stopping Apple "innovating" an enhanced protocol on top of the USB connector that only their phones/chargers support. So long as consumers CAN also charge with a standard USB-C charger on the basic power profiles.

      And the fact that they just complied - after much passive opposition - without really any legal fuss whatsoever means that they know that. Apple made *billions* from just having a different connector to everyone else, and that's their only interest. Now those billions are gone, there's no "innovation" in there, but not because of being stifled.

      1. keith_w

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        "We will also have to standardise electric car charging cables, and I don't want the precedent that Ford can make a Ford-only cable that you have to have Ford adaptors or go to a Ford charger to use... which is exactly what happen if we don't dictate base-level standards occasionally."

        Ford is switching to the TESLA connector, so that's that worry put to bed.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: Where do we go from here...?

          ... in the USA only. In Europe, Ford (like Tesla) will continue to use CCS2 for charging.

          That adoption went both ways: Tesla has been forced to open the Supercharger network to all makes of vehicle, and to change its previous charging-port licence, which was as “open” only in the way a bear-trap is until you step on it.

          In exchange, the US car manufacturers will now agree to use that Tesla connector type (called NACS - North American Charging System) for future production, and CCS1 stations will switch to using it too in time. with adaptors being made available to allow CCS1-equipped vehicles to access those and the existing Supercharger stations in the near term.

          The benefit? You don’t get pushed into buying a Tesla anymore just because there’s no other charging network where you live. Conversely, if you want a Tesla, but there were few Supercharger locations near you, then great news: the other charging sites near you will soon become compatible with that new Tesla.

          This is a good result for customers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Where do we go from here...?

            Now if it could require the rip-off merchants that run the charging stations to (1) advertise their kWh prices and (b) accept credit cards for payment just like every petrol pump in the civilised world we would have made another giant step to EVs actually usable.

            Also, triple the charge for anyone who remains connected for more than 15 min after their vehicle is topped up..

      2. MatthewSt

        Re: Where do we go from here...?

        Your car comparison is a good one: look up the Naruse pedal. A potential way to decrease the number of accidents made by using the wrong pedal, but 0% chance of being implemented because it'll be a break to the "standard".

        We've already standardised electric chargers in the UK (type 2 and CCS). A new standard will most likely have to be agreed when power requirements exceed the current connectors.

        The international sockets is a good example too, because it's the existing standards that are out there that prevent the "innovation" of being able to unify the world on to one standard.

        My point (in a very clumsy way) is that standards discourage innovation. That's fine if there's no innovation left to make, or if you've got a standards body (like USB) which can handle the innovation

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Where do we go from here...?

          I think the innovation was making French and German sockets compatible by coming up with plugs that worked with both types of sockets and making appliances work with polarised (French) and non-polarised (German) sockets. Now nearly all European and African counties can use the same appliances.

    5. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      > So is this the end of innovation for physical phone connectors now?

      If anyone manages to create a connector that is more useful than USB, the EU rules don't stop them having both.

      All the fuss about removing "unnecessary" ports (headphones!) at least means it would have to be a *really* genuine improvement over USB[1] to be worth the effort.

      [1] whatever the USB standard allows for by then, as the EU regs can be updated for a newer USB

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      "then we're stuck with (the many variants of) USB-C"

      In a way, yes. On the other hand, the EU ruling included wording to allow for change. It's not writ in stone. It's actually quite forward thinking for something to come out of a bureaucracy :-)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where do we go from here...?

      You didn't have chips in cables then telling the tail ends that is was safe to haul 5A through a cable. That's what prompted Apple to develop the Lightning idea, the 2A charging power would have melted some of the micro USB cables I received with gear.

      And it's the exact same principle you now find in USB-C. 10 years ago we didn't have the tech yet to stick chips in connectors.

      Heck, we barely left the era of banana jacks and DIN 180º connectors :).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SIM Slot Still Outside North America

    They still have a SIM slot outside North America dumbasses. eSIM is *BAD* news for end users.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hear a rumour

    That they're working on a significant new and never before seen innovation, a socket on the phone which allows users to plug in headphones using a small, circular socket that allows stereo audio signals to be distributed over metal contacts, yet more proof that Apple are at the cutting edge of innovation and investing in features to benefit users which have never been thought of by anyone else ever.

    I wish I could talk about their incredible, blue sky idea for activating context menus with an extra button on pointing devices but NDAs and all that

  9. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    FAIL

    They sure surprised me

    "Apple surprised almost no one on Thursday". They sure surprised me. I thought it was Tuesday

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: They sure surprised me

      "Apple surprised almost no one on Thursday". They sure surprised me. I thought it was Tuesday

      Nah, just a different timezone. If you travel around the world fast enough, you can get to yesterday or even tomorrow. Apple have simply improved on the Reality Distortion Field, travelled twice as fast and got to The Day After Tomorrow! :-)

  10. The H-J Man

    My iphone 3GS still works fine thank you, it makes and receives phone calls and allows me to send and receive text messages. Excatly what i want from a phone. I dont need a watch to tell me im having a heart attack, i think i might know somehow.

    Every week i get calls from some phone network offering me some deal with the latest phone and its features which i dont want or need. Yes I know i cant get the latest version of some app but as I said calls and texts work fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a shame your 3GS can't help you with spelling and punctuation :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not everyone is happy with sending all his/her keystrokes to the mothership.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Its days have to be numbered

      As most carriers are phasing out the 3G it depends on it. If all you need are calls and text messages you don't need a smartphone at all, even the most limited feature phone can handle that.

  11. darklord

    Not so green

    So what about the now to be defunct Lightning cables going to land fill when everyone starts buying new iphone 15s. just an excuse to control the market by europe.

    And in the UK and USA and the rest of the non european market world, why do we need to change the Eu doesn't control those markets, yes i know its cheaper to make one model etc!

    A very short sighted approach in the name on environmentalists. nope this fails on many levels.

    Who really is controlling europe, the Far east whom we have trade agreements and the designers and manufacturers of all that shiny tech that uses USB C.

    I wont be sad to see Lightning go as it does eat cables but switch cleaner sorts the blackened contacts and sockets, cant do that on usb C. so new cables etc needed, hence more new cables and more for the bin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so green

      > So what about the now to be defunct Lightning cables

      They get passed on with the second-hand phone that they came with.

      Unless you are sending both to the landfill, in which case the cable is the lesser part of the problem (and you ought to be thinking about taking the whole lot to recycling anyway). Btw cables are much easier to recycle than a phone.

      > but switch cleaner sorts the blackened contacts and sockets, cant do that on usb C

      What the blazes are you doing to your cables and phones? You sound concerned about waste and one way to reduce that is to take reasonable care of your property so that it doesn't need to be continually replaced!

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Not so green

      I wont be sad to see Lightning go as it does eat cables but switch cleaner sorts the blackened contacts and sockets, cant do that on usb C

      Can't say I've ever noticed that happening with either Micro-B or C connectors. Is eating cables and blackening contacts and sockets a Lightning-only innovation?

      Edit: Apparently so.

    3. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Not so green

      It's good to move to USB-C from lightning. Let's move past it.

      I've never seen a USB cable with a blackened connector. Odd.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Not so green

        I've never seen a Lightning cable with a blackened connected either. Maybe he really needs to wash his hands before plugging in his phone? Or dry them first if he IS washing them before plugging in :)

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Not so green

          It's not that black - it's just one pin. Happened with my iPad Mini.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so green

      You'll have the next step then when after the EU force companies to adopt a standard for cables they are forcing those poor mobile manufacturers to have user serviceable batteries.

      Can you imagine the environment impact of all those discarded dead batteries when they could simply buy a new phone one from Apple and bin their old model. Though of course they could pay an exorbitant about for an apple refurbishment if it's not too old.

    5. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: Not so green

      the blackened contacts and sockets

      You do realise that Lightning is just a marketing term, not the recommended source of energy?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USB-C cables for power and wired data transfer

    can't wait for those ebay sales: hardly used apple usb-c cable, half price bargain @ only £49.99!!!

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