Since Apple removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 in 2016, rumours have circulated that the Lightning port will be phased out in favour of an entirely portless design. Analysts had projected that the top-of-the-line iPhone 13 will provide a "fully wireless experience." Of course, that didn't happen, but a portless iPhone 14 in 2022 appears to be equally unlikely, for the reasons listed below.
Apple's long-term ambition has been to create an iPhone with no external connectors or buttons for a clean, streamlined device, but the company faces enormous challenges if it wants to provide a fully wireless charging and data transfer solution. In terms of data, Apple would have to look beyond Bluetooth due to its bandwidth restrictions and rely on a faster wireless technology that permits iPhone data transfer at a pace that matches or exceeds Lightning, or the removal of the connector would be perceived as a step backward.
Apple, in fact, has already created such a protocol. When placed on a proprietary magnetic dock with a corresponding 60.5GHz module, Apple Watch Series 7 models are equipped with a module that enables 60.5GHz wireless data transfer, according to MacRumors. Apple probably doesn't publicise this feature because it's intended for internal usage. Apple Store employees, for example, might utilise the dock to restore an Apple Watch wirelessly. It's unknown how fast its wireless data transfer is, however USB 2.0 speeds of up to 480 Mbps are achievable, according to our knowledge. In other words, Lightning speed is regarded as a step backward.
However, wireless data transfer isn't the only thing that would need to be accomplished. You wouldn't be possible to physically connect your iPhone to a computer to reset an unresponsive iPhone in recovery mode if it didn't have a Lightning port. Unless Apple came up with an alternative at-home solution – perhaps a second iteration of MagSafe with high-speed data transfer capabilities – users would have to return their iPhones to the Apple Store every time an over-the-air update or full device restore failed and borked the device, causing more annoyance and inconvenience.
Let's pretend Apple released "MagSafe 2.0" alongside a portless iPhone 14 to address these data/recovery difficulties. The current MagSafe Charger delivers up to 15W of peak power (or 12W on the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini) and charges a compatible iPhone at about half the pace of a wired 20W USB-C charger, so any future MagSafe version would have to up the juice significantly to match current cable rates.
Apple, admittedly, could definitely pull this off (assuming it has shaken off its AirPower woes). Take a look at its competitors to discover what's already feasible. The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro both offer up to 21W and 23W wireless charging, respectively, while the OnePlus 9 Pro supports 50W wireless charging courtesy to its next-generation Warp charger, which can charge a dead phone to full capacity in 43 minutes. That's faster than a 20W charger connected directly into an iPhone. Xiaomi is another market leader, with a 5000mAh battery in its Mi 11 Ultra phone that can be charged wirelessly from 0% to 100% in 30 minutes.
Despite these improvements in wireless charging speed, an often-overlooked issue is the technology's typically poor energy efficiency. Wireless charging takes roughly 47 percent more power than conventional charging for the same amount of electricity, according to Eric Ravenscraft of Debugger in 2020. Unless Apple surprises us with a new version of MagSafe that boasts remarkable energy efficiency, Apple's decision to abandon the Lightning connector would be in direct contradiction to its much-touted environmental policies.
And that's not the only environmental issue Apple would be creating by going portless. Apple stated in 2020 that eliminating the Lightning connector from the iPhone would "produce an unparalleled quantity of electrical trash," in response to EU discussions over requiring an uniform port across all mobile devices. It's easy to see how this argument may be used against Apple if the company releases a portless iPhone in 2022. Millions of existing Lightning cables, charging stations, and other adapters would be rendered obsolete and destined for the landfill overnight.
Of course, Apple could satisfy the European Commission by adopting USB-C, but that would simply be replacing one connector with another, tying Apple to a new cable standard for the foreseeable future. Apple would be basically kicking its vision of a portless iPhone even further down the road. Apple will keep the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and has no plans to move to USB-C, which has a lower water standard than Lightning. As Kuo correctly points out, such a move would be bad for Apple's profitable MFi business, which is why he thinks Apple would go straight to a portless model rather than switching to USB-C first.
|Source: Jon prosser|
Despite certain iPhone 14 speculations, we believe Apple's next smartphone will continue to employ Lightning ports with the option of MagSafe, at least until a more feasible wireless charging technology emerges that allows for a portless iPhone design without the associated drawbacks. So, when do you think that will be? To be honest, it's difficult to say.
Apple was rumoured to be working with Energous to develop a "true wireless charging" solution back in 2016, but nothing has come of it. Apple is rumoured to be working on new wireless charging methods, and with the release of MagSafe, it's evident that the corporation is still interested in finding new ways to power gadgets without the clutter of cords. It's unclear how long we'll have to wait for one that can power a portless iPhone.