Bought a New iPhone 15? Try These USB-C Accessories First
The switch from Lightning to USB-C opens up a new world of accessories for the iPhone 15.
Updated Oct. 16, 2023 8:35 a.m. PT
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With the arrival of the new iPhone 15, one big change has everyone talking: The Lightning port that has been featured on every iPhone model since the iPhone 5 in 2012 has been replaced with a USB-C port. For many, this change is a long time coming. USB-C has been a technological standard that's been included on nearly all mobile devices and computers -- not to mention, many Apple products -- for several years now. However, there's a large sect of the population still dealing with drawers, travel bags and car consoles full of Lightning cables. Basically, your cord situation needs a revamp.
Aside from USB-C upgrades, and other must-haves for a new iPhone (like a new case), there's a sturdy collection of "nice to haves" out there (which could include new wireless speakers or headphones). It's worth noting that the current version of the list below includes products we're confident will work with Apple's new iPhones.
The iPhone 15 line is the first to have USB-C ports on the phone itself, but Apple has been shipping cables with USB-C on the power source end for the past couple of years. Still have an old-school wall adapter with a rectangular USB-A port? That'll work with the addition of some cheap dongles (see below), but it might result in a slower charging speed. For the best experience, invest in a wall adapter with native USB-C ports with at least 20W of power or more. For under $20, we like the Anker 323, which offers a maximum of 33W of power and includes both USB-C and USB-A ports, for maximum flexibility. We charged an iPhone 14 Pro from zero to 57% in 30 minutes with this model; it should have no problem doing the same fast charging on the iPhone 15 series.
Pro upgrade: If you want an even more capable charger, step up to Anker's 735 charger. It's got an extra USB-C port and can handle charging up to 65 watts -- enough for most laptops.
To be clear, your new iPhone 15 includes a 1-meter (3.3-foot) Apple USB-C cable in the box. But you'll want some extra cables for other rooms in the house, or for traveling. Most recent generic USB-C cables should suffice, but we like these Anker cables, which are braided for high durability and rated for up to 100W of charging power. Even better, Anker gives you a two-pack of 6-footers for $16. That beats the $19 that Apple charges for its 1-meter braided cable (presumably the same one that ships with the new iPhones), and the $29 the company chargers for its Lightning to USB-C adapter. (Do yourself a favor and buy these cables instead of that adapter.)
Pro upgrade: If you want a cable that's fully rated for higher-wattage charging, faster data speeds and 8K video output, step up to the Anker 515 USB 4 cable instead.
Adapters like this will let you plug a USB-C cable into a USB-A slot. (Your biggest challenge will be not losing them — just leave them plugged into the slots on your PC or chargers.) Note that these aren't rated for bandwidth beyond USB 2.0, but they're good for charging or data transfer in a pinch. For instance, we just used one to juice up an Apple Watch charger (with a USB-C plug) from a USB-A wall outlet during a recent hotel stay.
Like recent iPhones, the iPhone 15 series supports MagSafe charging -- Apple's take on the Qi wireless charging standard -- which lets you magnetically attach battery packs and other accessories to the rear of the handset. (In fact, Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 15 supports the emerging Qi2 standard, but the company hasn't specified exactly what that means in terms of charging speeds or wattage limits.) This Baseus magnetic battery pack isn't fully MagSafe compliant — it won't charge the iPhone at full speed — but for its sub-$50 price (with the Amazon instant coupon), it's a better buy than Apple's own, now discontinued $95 battery pack, which has less battery capacity, requires a Lightning cord and lacks the built-in kickstand. And if colors are your thing, this one has more options than the standard Apple White. It also has twice the capacity of the similar Anker 622 MagGo (which is a good choice if you want a lighter option).
Though you certainly can strap your phone to the top of your favorite console controller, it's not the most portable solution ever. There are a couple of gaming controllers out there designed to wrap around your phone so the buttons are on either side of the screen, and if you're looking for the best, what you really want is a Backbone. You can choose between Xbox and PlayStation button layouts with matching color schemes, and the grips couldn't be more comfortable for on-the-go gameplay. It's a little more expensive than using a standard controller, but it's much more compact and you can actually charge your phone while you play, thanks to the USB-C pass-through.
One of the cool things USB-C brings to the iPhone 15 Pro series is the ability to connect to professional equipment for photography and videography. If you're interested in trying that out without spending an enormous amount of money, this field monitor looks to be a great place to start. You can connect the monitor to your phone via USB-C and get waveform readout so you can correct without having to move your phone. It's a relatively inexpensive way to try something new on your phone, and a great way to dive deeper into the world of iPhone photography.
For a lot of folks, the big question with every new phone and new case is "can I use my PopSocket on this?" and the great news is when it comes to the iPhone 15 the answer will always be yes. All you need to do is make sure you have the right thing to connect your favorite PopSocket design to, which is why we recommend everyone pick up the new MagSafe Round. It's packed with magnets to ensure a sturdy connection either straight to the back of your phone or to any MagSafe case. And if you're looking at a case that doesn't come with MagSafe, the Round comes with an adhesive ring of magnets you can stick to the inside and keep that sturdy connection. When you're ready to charge your phone, you just pull down on the PopSocket and you're good to go.