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Will Apple get rid of the charging port, too? All signs point to portless iPhones

Are you ready for a wireless future?

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Apple could kill the Lightning connector on the flagship iPhone in 2021, according to reports. We take a look at why this is significant and what needs to be fixed before we can be totally wireless on this week's Apple Core wrap.

Will Apple release an iPhone with USB-C? 

First they came for our headphone jacks. Now, they're taking our ports. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that the company is gearing up to remove the Lightning connector from the flagship iPhone released in 2021. 

We first heard rumblings about this happening in 2018, when rumors pointed toward the iPhone X having no ports. But that didn't come to fruition and the iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone 11 lines all have Lightning connectors. It also looks to continue this way until the iPhone 12 range is released.

Kuo predicts that having a totally wireless phone will help differentiate the flagship iPhone from all other models in the lineup. Having no physical ports mean iPhones will have less moving parts and it can improve water resistance or make more room for a bigger battery. Another report says Apple's going to change the release schedule of phones: instead of releasing all the new phones in September each year, there may be some in the first half of 2021 and others in the second half -- presumably the more premium, portless version.

We've also seen other rumors indicating that Apple may bundle AirPods with the new iPhones, which makes sense if we get a portless phone. Apple would not be the first to experiment with a portless phone: Other companies have shown off concepts, like the Vivo Apex from earlier in 2019.

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Free AirPods with every phone?

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple's been warming its users to a life without Lightning cables for a while now. First, the iPhone came with wireless charging, then the AirPods followed suit, and this year we finally got the USB-C to Lightning cable with the iPhone 11 Pro.

But there are problems with wireless charging. Right now the iPhone taps out at 7.5 watts. But we've seen phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus come with faster Qi wireless charging. Apple will need to quicken its wireless charging times if it wants to remain competitive .

Apple will also have to address how its phones will sync with systems like Apple CarPlay, or backing up to a computer without Lightning. Vehicles from BMW and Audi support wireless CarPlay but upgrading a car is a more cost-prohibitive than a phone. 

iOS 13.3 is here with hints about new Powerbeats

Apple rolled out an update to iOS 13.3 recently that adds extra controls for screen time. But 9to5Mac reports that a hidden nugget in the release points to a new version of Powerbeats coming soon. Strings in the iOS code indicate that they will have "Hey, Siri" support and potentially the option to read incoming messages from your iPhone, just like the AirPods Pro. It's expected that they would also have the new H1 chip.

The wireless earbuds would presumably replace the Powerbeats 3, released in 2016. Apple also released the Powerbeats Pro earlier in 2019 with support for "Hey, Siri."

Now playing: Watch this: No Lightning port on 2021 iPhones?
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Originally published in December 2019.