iPhone 8: USB-C Confusion

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We heard earlier this week that Apple might do away with its proprietary Lightning port in the iPhone 8 and instead opt for USB-C ports for charging and peripheral activities, but it sounds like this might not be the case after all. Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities put a different spin on the report, as he believes it’s not an either/or situation, but one of both… sort of.

iPhone 8 to use USB Type-C for fast charging

The analyst said in a research note that all three of this year’s new iPhone models will probably feature fast charging via “Type-C Power Delivery.” However, he clarified that he doesn’t expect Apple to ditch the Lightning port in favor of the industry standard USB-C port. Rather, he expects the iPhone 8 to have both a Lightning port and USB Type-C port.

The reason is because it’s vital to maintain that data transmission is stable during fast charging and that the device is safe. Apple certainly wouldn’t want to find itself in Samsung’s shoes. In order to safely provide fast charging on the iPhone 8, Kuo expects Apple to TI’s power management offerings and Cypress’ Power Delivery chips.

He adds that the more premium OLED-display model, which is the one expected to bear the iPhone 8 moniker (or possibly iPhone X), might charge a bit faster than the two other models (probably the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. The reason is because he expects it to have “a 2-cell L shaped battery pack design.”

ZDNet suggests that the iPhone 8 might not have a USB-C port built into it, but rather, the charging cable may have a USB-C bit on the other end (not the one that plugs into the device). This is pure speculation because it’s unclear exactly what is meant by all this. Some seem to believe the device will have both ports, while others maintain that there will probably be some sort of adaptor. That seems the most likely scenario because Apple uses a USB-C adaptor for some of its other devices.

Lightning port to be used for other things

According to Kuo, Apple will keep its proprietary Lightning port too but utilize it for its Lightning accessories, particularly for the MFi Program licensing. The Lightning port’s design is a bit slimmer than that of the USB Type-C port, which should help with that. Kuo also believes the high-speed data transmission on USB-C is still only “niche” when it comes to the iPhone.

The Wall Street Journal was the one to report about the iPhone 8 and the Lightning and USB-C ports earlier this week. The tech blog-o-sphere jumped to conclusions with that report and was quick to say that the iPhone 8 would ditch the Lightning port in favor of USB-C, while the other two models to be launched this year would retain the Lightning port.

Jumping to conclusions

However, a comparison of what the WSJ said and what Kuo says now indicates that perhaps that’s not what was meant after all. The WSJ is now being criticized by Mac Rumors and others for unclear and/ or vague reporting, leading to confusion in the tech community. Kuo also offered some clarification on that report, suggesting that the iPhone 8 could actually have a USB-C connector for the power cord rather than a “port,” which was what the WSJ called it.

The analyst also made it clear that USB-C isn’t being used instead of the Lightning port, but rather, in addition to. Besides, why would Apple dump its own proprietary port design, especially when it makes money licensing the design to third-party accessory makers. Some MacBooks have a USB-C port, while some iPad models use a Lightning to USB-C cable to delivery fast charging capabilities, so it seems likely that the iPhone 8 will adapt a similar strategy.

And given Apple’s constant desire to go thinner and thinner, it wouldn’t make sense to even put a USB-C port in the iPhone because it will make it more difficult to do so. The Lightning port is thinner and allows for thinner devices.

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