This story is part ofCNET’s collection of news, tips, and advice on Apple’s most popular products.
TheIt goes a step further in Apple’s quest for a portless phone, making new models sleeker and more powerful by emptying the SIM card slot and .
Gone are another mechanical dust and water issue, after Apple opted to kick out the 3.5mm headphone jack starting in 2016 andStarting in 2017. Extrapolating to the future, you might expect Apple to empty the charging and data port next, ushering in the port-less iPhone era.
I’m sure I hope not.
I’m all for progress, but I think we’d better keep some of those copper cables in our lives — although that goes against the idea of a sleek, seamless gadget that Apple aspires to now be possible, as CNET Lisa Edescko points out.
Sounds cool neat, but hear me out. There are three big issues with an iPhone without a port: charging inconvenience, slow data transfer, and refusal of wired earbuds. Here is a look at the situation.
The shortcomings of wireless charging for iPhone
The first big problem with an iPhone that doesn’t have ports is that it will be difficult to charge.
You may have charging pads in the kitchen, in the office, in your car, and maybe even on the table next to your bed. You need to charge your phone elsewhere, though: at the airport, in a rental car, at your friend’s house, in a college lecture hall, at a conference. Moving around the charger and cable needed for your “wireless” charging is worse than carrying a regular wired charger.
Sure, they’re included in some places now, including coffee shops and airports, but you don’t want to roll the dice when available. Chances are good, you will lose.
Wireless chargers are also more expensive, are often bulkier and can be tricky about placing the phone, even with Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. On several occasions, I woke up in the morning or had been driving for hours and discovered that the wireless charging was not working.
Wired charging is also faster, wastes less power and doesn’t leave my phone hot.
If Apple ditched the old Lightning port now and embraced the USB-C port on iPhones, as I would expect, its charging and data port would become even more useful. I’m already using USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Laptop Framework, Sony noise-canceling headphones, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel Buds Pro earbuds, Nintendo Switch game console, and controllers. When I travel, I always have a USB-C charger with me, and I expect USB-C ports to become more and more popular in airports, planes, hotels, cars, and coffee shops. Don’t hold your breath because of a wireless charging pad stuck in an Economy Class seat.
“There’s no doubt that USB-C is way overdue on the iPhone, especially considering it’s on the iPad and Mac,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “It is not always possible to use wireless networks or MagSafe.”
iPhone data transfer speed
The convenience of wireless data transmission makes it the standard for phones. Gone are the days when we needed to connect our phones to our laptops to sync and backup data.
But if you’re one of those creative types that Apple shows off at every iPhone launch, shooting 4K video for your standalone movie, you’ll appreciate the wired data transfer to get that video onto your laptop faster. This is especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.
The 1 minute ProRes clip I recently shot is 210MB; Imagine how fast you would sweep through the gigabytes if you were shooting more seriously. Wired connections can be great for transferring a lot of photos, too, using a tool like Apple’s Photo Capture Utility or Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and indexing.
Wired Earbuds If You Can’t Buy AirPods
I know, I know, AirPods or some other wireless earbuds these days are a booming business. But wired headphones are still useful. It’s even a retro fashion statement for some.
I love them because they never run out of battery or have poor bluetooth. It’s hard to get lost or down a gutter on the street while running to catch the bus.
Wired earbuds are much cheaper. You can probably afford $249 of second-generation AirPods Pro, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is squeezed out of smartphones, but iPhones with USB-C ports mean you’re more likely to get a cheap set of earbuds at the airport travel store if you forget your AirPods.
There’s probably room for compromise – one iPhone for wireless fans only and another for folks like me. But Apple doesn’t like to oblige consumers with confusing choices, so I’d be surprised.
Case for immovable iPhones
There are, of course, some important advantages that we get from an iPhone without barriers.
It will bring a new level of style and reduce the amount of cable mess in your life. iPhone cases will be stronger and more resistant to water and dust. Apple will get a little extra internal space that it can fill with a larger battery or other electronic devices.
“An iPhone without a port would likely be more structurally rigid and allow more room for a Taptic driver, speakers, or perhaps an antenna,” said Anshel Sag, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Apple, which does not usually discuss its future plans, has not commented on this story.
Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make it possible to envision an iPhone without barriers. More improvements are also likely: better Wi-Fi. Wireless charging that works anywhere in the room, not just on the charging pad. Possible use of ultra-wideband positioning technology for fast transmission of short-range data as well.
I really enjoy the current wireless technologies that would make a barrier-free iPhone possible. I just think the disadvantages of relying on it exclusively outweigh the advantages.
The best receiver is the one that preserves the charging port and data. So, Apple, please don’t give up on it either. And while your engineers look at the matter, what about USB-C?
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