Bye-Bye, Lightning Cable. New iPhones Move to USB-C

One plug for everything? Apple's newest iPhones join the ranks of USB-C devices.

Bree Fowler Senior Writer
Bree Fowler writes about cybersecurity and digital privacy. Before joining CNET she reported for The Associated Press and Consumer Reports. A Michigan native, she's a long-suffering Detroit sports fan, world traveler, wannabe runner and champion baker of over-the-top birthday cakes and all-things sourdough.
Expertise cybersecurity, digital privacy, IoT, consumer tech, smartphones, wearables
Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
Bree Fowler
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read
An image of a USB-C and a lightning cable.

Say goodbye to the Lightning cable.

Apple said at its annual fall product launch event on Tuesday that its newest iPhones will have USB-C ports, moving its flagship devices to the reversible industry standard used by not only rival Android phones but also Windows PCs and Apple's own Macs and iPads.

Additionally, Apple said it will update its EarPods headphones case to also allow for USB-C charging.

It's been more than a decade since Apple last changed the iPhone's charging port. In 2012, with the iPhone 5, the company made a radical shift to the Lightning system, from the 30-pin connector that was first introduced on the iPod. Like its predecessor, the Lightning port was an Apple-created connector, and it offered a host of improvements, not the least of which was that it was reversible and 80% smaller than the older option. 

The move is largely the result of a new European Union law requiring universal USB-C phone chargers by 2024. While it will require users to get new cables for their iPhones, they'll also be able to use those cables to charge more things, and many people probably already own USB-C cables.

Not only could that reduce the tangled collections of cords cluttering up many peoples' nightstands and kitchen counters, it could, as EU officials hope, reduce the amount of e-waste headed for landfills around the world.

USB-C also offers much faster charging speeds. Wired iPhone charging over a Lightning to USB-C cable (with a 20W or higher power adapter) can generally get the battery to 50% in 30 minutes, according to Apple. Companies like OnePlus and Samsung say that with a USB-C connection they can nearly fully charge one of their own phones in the same 30 minutes.