On September 12, 2012, Apple retired its cumbersome 15-pin connector and introduced the Lightning connection, a sleek, smooth, reversible 8-pin connector.
It served the Apple ecosystem well by providing a versatile selection of power and data transport options. It became the One Connector to Rule Them All for Apple aficionados and was present on all of Apple’s portable devices.
Yes, the connector charged our iPhones and iPads, but it also made its way into keyboards, AirPods, the Apple Pen, and a variety of other small peripherals. With its compact size and ubiquity — everyone owned at least one Apple charger — it became a friend to billions of devices.
However, as power-hungry devices proliferated, Apple realized that USB-C may be a superior option. As early as 2018, the iPad Pro models shifted to USB-C. The iPad Air followed in 2020, followed by the iPad of the tenth generation in 2022.
The Apple TV 4K remote, which also features a USB-C connector, is the latest device to signal the demise of the Lightning port.
It appeared that the entire world was switching to USB-C, with the EU’s desire to reduce e-waste and simplify the charging process being a significant factor. All devices (phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, headsets, video game consoles, portable speakers, earbuds, and laptops up to 100 W of power delivery) must be equipped with a USB type-C interface by 2022, per a vote of 602 to 13 in the European Parliament.
Today, in conjunction with the release of the iPhone 15, Cupertino announced that the Lightning connector would be discontinued, 11 years to the day after its introduction.
Personally, I believe it’s pretty lame that Apple didn’t pioneer the iPhone several generations ago (pardon the pun). The writing has been on the wall for Lightning for quite some time, and it appears that Apple hoped to be able to wait it out before ditching all connectors on the iPhone in favor of a completely wireless experience.
It turns out, however, that when you’re on the go — even with strong magnets holding your wireless charger to the rear of your device — it’s somewhat convenient to be able to plug in and forget about it.
In a world where wireless charging is simple and wireless headphones and accouterments have been the norm for less than a minute, why does any of this matter? The truth is that it probably doesn’t, but it’s probably pleasant that you can borrow a charger from an Android-loving friend in a pinch, and it’s more likely that the charger you need will exist wherever you go when you inevitably forget your charger.