Will Apple still switch to USB-C for the iPhone?

The iPhone’s first sales day is the same as in previous years. There are still a large number of consumers lined up in different Apple Stores everywhere, the store is crowded with people, and the shop assistants are busy setting up their brand new iPhone 12 for these first customers.

The brand-new machine also has the old taste. When importing the old model data into the new mobile phone, you will find that the speed is still not fast whether it is full backup or wireless transmission. The network environment of the Apple Store is crowded and complicated, and it does not provide a good enough experience. If it is WeChat data migration, the fastest way may be to open a hotspot connection.

At this time, many people may wonder, if the iPhone supports the direct connection of two phones with a cable, would it be a better method?

The answer is no, because the iPhone’s Lightning interface only has the speed of USB 2.0, it is difficult to meet the increasing capacity of iPhone users.

Why can't the Lightning interface be faster?

The question is, why can't the Lightning interface be faster?

The core reason is that the Lightning interface design is too old from today's perspective. The Lightning interface was born in 2012 and was originally used on the iPod Touch 5 and iPhone 5. It is a design that is quite old.

Although the plug can be plugged in and out, there is actually only one side, that is, the 8 pins can play a role, and carefully look at the base on the phone with a flashlight, you can see that there are actually only one side with contacts inside.

What is really used for data transmission is actually only the channel of the two pins inside, and it is not a high-speed channel. This results in the actual speed of Lightning is only at the USB 2.0 level, up to 480Mbps, and the maximum power is only 36W (data in doubt).

At present, the widely used USB-C plug has 12 pins on a single side, and a total of 24 pins on the front and back, and both the front and the back are available at the same time, even if the 4 pins for USB 2.0 compatibility are excluded, Still greatly ahead of Lightning.

Why USB 3.2 2×2 can reach the speed of 20Gbps is actually the result of the simultaneous activation of four high-speed channels on the front and back. These rich pins with different functions provide USB-C (to USB 3.2 2×2) with a bandwidth of up to 20Gbps and a power supply capacity of 100W.

This can be done because the USB-IF constantly updates the USB 3.X standard in the form of the USB-C interface, plus all the hardware and accessory manufacturers have worked hard to promote the result, the next generation of USB4 or USB-C port However, four pins forming a high-speed channel can already provide 20Gbps bandwidth, and dual channels can reach 40GBps, which is the standard of Thunderbolt3.

Continuously updating the standard has allowed the USB-C interface to carry a significant leap forward in recent years, but at the same time, there has also been a lot of confusion in online materials and functional support, which will be discussed in the next article.

▲ Lightning plug. Picture from: AnandTech

In recent years, Apple has not updated the MFi certification with the Lightning interface as the core. In the current R32 support document, there have been many changes in the power adapter and other aspects, including the introduction of C to L cables, etc. However, the core Lightning interface has not been redesigned, which has led to its upper limit has not been increased.

But not all Lightning interfaces do not support USB 3.0. In fact, on the iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2015 model, Apple added USB 3.0 support for Lightning for an unprecedented time. However, this USB 3.0 interface cannot be used with any Lightning cable to achieve high-speed transmission. Only a Lightning to SD card adapter can reflect the speed of USB 3.0.

In addition to the built-in USB 3.0 controller, whether the interface has been modified is currently unknown. Some people speculate that it is possible for the base to implement the USB 3.0 standard, and the Lightning cable has insufficient pins.

In short, Apple once seemed to try to make the Lightning interface support USB3.0, but in the end, maybe it still feels easier to go directly to USB-C.

From Lightning to USB-C, paving the way for professionalism

Even though the volume of the USB-C port is larger than that of Lightning, it is undoubtedly a better choice than Lightning from the many protocols and specifications supported. In fact, Apple did not completely reject USB-C. It was the first to be equipped with a USB-C port on the 2018 iPad Pro.

Why is the iPad Pro, not the iPhone, which sells better and has more users? In addition to the huge benefits behind the old-fashioned MFI-certified accessories, I think it is Apple's definition of product functions that makes it "reluctant to part with it."

iPad Pro 2018 is considered to be the most classic iPad Pro in recent years. The simplest argument is that after the launch of iPad Pro 2020, this veteran nearly two years ago has not been eliminated, but the new iPad Pro's popularity I snatched the keyboard control accessory. However, since the 2018 model also supports the Magic Keyboard, the necessity of the new iPad Pro has become even lower.

The iPad Pro was only truly defined as a "professional device" for professional users almost in 2018, and the USB-C port is a necessary part of it. After advertising the professional video editing function to a large number of users, it can be said that it is unbearable to use USB 2.0 speed to transmit 4K video.

However, this also makes me think that Apple should replace the USB-C port for this year's iPhone, at least for the Pro series. After working hard to update the image system and support the 4K HDR Dolby Vision format, the iPhone 12 series may be the only device that can complete the pre-shooting, post-editing, and sharing and forwarding. However, in the face of unstable wireless sharing, This kind of large-capacity and complex video should be equipped with a stable and high-speed wired transmission method, because the iPhone Pro series are also "professional equipment."

At the same time, it can also solve another pain point of iPhone users, the problem of insufficient charging power.

But at present, Apple does not have this plan. Instead, it has switched to another path, adding MagSafe magnetic charging to this year's iPhone 12 series.

MagSafe is the next Apple accessories empire

Starting from the iPhone 8 generation, there are rumors every year that the next-generation iPhone will replace the USB-C interface. I believe that among a large number of prototypes in Apple, there must be some designs that use the USB-C interface, but they have not been replaced today, which mainly affects the two functions of data transmission and charging speed.

If in terms of data transmission, AirDrop can be played in Apple's ecological equipment, fast charging means that the interface itself needs to be redesigned at the physical level. But the biggest reason why Apple still hasn't replaced it today is probably the accessory ecology.

This year's MagSafe magnetic charging may be the beginning of Apple's elimination of the Lightning interface, but the peak speed of 15W is indeed quite "heartbreaking". If it can achieve the commercially available 50W, then I want to support MagSafe magnetic charging to kill There will be a lot more people with Lightning interface.

As for why MagSafe is pushed instead of directly replacing USB-C, it is naturally very simple, because USB-C is also the standard of USB-IF home, how can it have its own fragrance. What Apple needs is after Lightning is declining, the next accessory empire that can be controlled by itself, wireless charging represents the future, and the combination of MagSafe magnetic absorption and wireless charging is just taking advantage of the trend.

In terms of actual experience, MagSafe’s magnetic charging experience is somewhere between wired charging and wireless charging pads. It is more flexible than charging pads. It does not require "Play" and does not require a plug-in interface compared to wired charging.

▲ MagSafe magnetic charging. Picture from: Hypebae

Of course, Apple deliberately adopted this form of MagSafe charging, in order to avoid breaking the user's existing charging habits, for example, some users like to play while charging, and cultivate more users to be used to wireless charging. The double gap between 7.5W and 15W, and the accessory price of 329 yuan, satisfy Apple's need to make money and allow users to prefer MagSafe.

As a commercial consideration, I have to say that this idea is actually very good, and it almost maximizes the current and future-oriented layout of Apple's accessories business.

And beyond Apple's expectations, it may be the "crazy" of domestic Android manufacturers in terms of charging power. If only an opponent like Samsung has a peak value of 25W, even if individual models are 45W, this gap is still acceptable to most users. As a result, domestic Android directly increases the wired charging power to more than 120W and the wireless charging power to 50W. By next year, there will probably not be only one model with a total power of 200W+ for wired and wireless charging.

For Apple, this huge gap is the iPhone's rival.

After the iPhone 12 conference, the foreign technology media The Verge sighed: "Forget 5G, MagSafe is your reason to buy iPhone 12." It also mentioned:

"Every mobile phone can have a better camera and better performance, and 5G will naturally become the standard configuration of every mobile phone. However, no mobile phone manufacturer can provide an accessory ecosystem like the iPhone 12."

Can iPhone replace Lightning with a better USB-C before the interface is killed? I guess not, because MagSafe is the next big business.

Source of title picture: Lifewire

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