Are Apple Finally Learning? - The Demise Of Lightning
Updated: Jan 4, 2019
I've been an avid Apple user for a good few years now. Currently, this article is being typed on a MacBook Air from late 2015 and to be honest, it's proved to be a fantastic investment for what I've needed it to do. On the plus side, it's easy to use and features some wonderfully quick charge and loading times and for a laptop, the keyboard itself isn't too bad. Combined with this, I've been through a couple of iPads (the iPad Three or 'new iPad' that lasted me the best part of five years and currently around is the original 9.7" iPad Pro) and they've ultimately served me to do anything I've needed and wanted them to do. I look down at the charging point and it indeed features Apple's own Lightning connector.
The Lightning connector has been around since 2012 and is a much easier connector to use than its thirty-pin predecessor. This connector is able to be placed in either way up which has really made life an awful lot easier for me over the years. Since it only uses eight pins, it is much more compact and takes up a lot less space than its predecessor too. It's there for convenience and devices seem to charge faster with the Lightning connector so it is rather hard to fault. However, I've been a user of Android phones for as long as I can remember and currently I'm in possession of a Google Pixel 2 - the closest that any Android phone will possibly come to its iOS counterpart, lacking both a headphone jack and expandable memory; these are things I've been used to for many years now and also something that is rather nice is its new-fangled USB-C connector which charges the phone very quickly.
Apple products usually work in a rather closed technological ecosystem and so, when the announcement of a new iPad Pro came around a few weeks back, I became rather intrigued to see that their latest effort has dropped their trusted Lightning connector and replaced it with a more universal USB-C connector. This seemed pretty absurd for Apple to now learn that they do not need to have their own fancy connectors and instead conform to everyone else's USB-C connections on Android phones. This does beg some questions however – will Apple continue to change? Currently speaking, this new iPad Pro is the only handheld Apple product to have this new (well, new to Apple) USB-C port design and will their future products continue this trend? Will it eliminate the Lightning connector entirely? Someway or somehow, Apple will find a way to charge their ludicrous prices for a standard cable that can easily be bought for single-digit prices from any other retailers. The USB-C ecosystem is much wider and there is much less limitation on the cables you can purchase. The switch from Lighting to USB-C isn’t actually that bad to be honest either. The host of Macbooks that Apple offer all use USB-C connectivity and reports from earlier in the year suggested that Apple would be wholly switching from Lightning to USB-C.
The new iPad Pro looks like it’s designed to replace your PC and the transition to USB-C looks like a pretty inspired decision from my perspective. It’s Apple’s way of creating another painless change, like the one from the thirty-pin to the Lightning. However, it does seem that Apple are potentially taking a step backwards with their decision in a way. The USB-C connector is a couple of millimetres thicker and whilst that may not sound like much, it will increase the thickness of Apple’s phones – a selling point that they pride themselves upon. Moreover, the Lightning connector, at release in 2012, was massively ahead of its time, whilst Android phones were still lumbered with the age-old micro-USB leads and ports. At this time, the ideas of USB-C were only just starting to be explored and so it is only with forms of technological innovation on the part of the USB that Apple are switching to.
In my eyes, the main reason for switching is to conform with everyone else and to make life easier for all those involved. As a result, to me, it makes perfect sense and this does indeed help Apple users and allow the usage of one cable for most products, if not all. This could be the demise of Lightning, but, until it’s rolled out across all platforms and even then, that’s not a definite, we’ll just have to stick with our trusty Lightning connectors for now!