Ming-Chi Kuo, the analyst with the uncanny ability to predict all things Apple, has said that while the iPhone 15 will ditch its Lightning ports for USB-C next year, only the two high-end models, the Pro and Pro Max, will support higher wired transfer speeds.
Writing on Twitter today, he said (translated from Chinese): “My latest survey pointed out that all 2H23 new iPhones have abandoned Lighting and changed to USB-C, but only two high-end iPhone 15 (15 Pro & 15 Pro Max) are equipped with wired high-speed transmission specifications, and the two standard iPhone 15 (15 & 15 15 Plus) wired transfer speed specs are still the same as Lightning (USB 2.0).”
He went on to claim that the Pro and Pro Max’s transfer speeds will “improve markedly” due to support for “at least” USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3. USB 2.0 is limited to 480Mb/s, USB 3.2 can pull up to 20Gbps, and Thunderbolt 3 supports up to 40Gbps.
The Apple soothsayer claimed that this “specification upgrade and new trend will drive Apple’s ecological demand for high-speed transmission chips and competitors’ imitation (almost all Android phones only support USB 2.0) … and will benefit the growth of [the] high-speed transmission IC design industry.”
If Kuo turns out to be correct, it’s a cynical move by Apple, which was forced to switch from its proprietary Lightning standard to USB-C by the European Union’s move to standardize on the spec, as it would be pushing more people to upgrade to pricier options with the carrot of higher performance numbers.
The EU’s rationale was to reduce electronic waste – a position that Apple has repeatedly challenged since the millions of Lightning charging cables in circulation will gradually be rendered useless as people upgrade. But surely it can’t complain too much when its MacBooks and iPads have already made the leap?
The iPhone is the last bastion of control for Apple. The vendor wants control over how people use its products and who can make Apple parts, and won’t want to compete with others on products for its own phones (a Lightning to USB cable costs as much as $19 through Apple’s website). But with the law change in Europe, a market too lucrative for Apple to give up, the wall around that “walled garden” may have a small crack.
Apple exec Greg “Joz” Joswiak confirmed the transition last month, telling The Wall Street Journal: “Obviously we’ll have to comply, we have no choice.”
None of this has or will be substantiated by Apple until its official launch events, probably in H2 2023. But Kuo, who works as analyst for TF International Securities, has a network of contacts in Apple’s Asian supply chain whose intel he includes in client research notes.
Although he is not always right, he is widely regarded as one of the most reliable sources for what’s coming down Apple’s pipeline. ®