Will the iPhone 15 Have USB-C Charging? What We Know So Far

Apple's next iPhones could be the first to use USB-C instead of the Lightning port for charging, thanks to new EU rules.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
5 min read
All four models in the iPhone 14 series standing on a desk
Celso Bulgatti/CNET

You might need a different charging cable to power your next iPhone for the first time in more than a decade. And if so, we're expecting to find out more on Sept. 12, when Apple is holding its next event -- presumably to introduce the iPhone 15.

Apple executives said the company plans to comply with European rules mandating that new phones all use the same common USB-C charging port. Most phones already use USB-C, with Apple being the main outlier. 

When asked if Apple will move to USB-C, Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the company has "no choice." Apple will "comply with local laws" as it does around the world, Joswiak said during an appearance at The Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference in October.

That said, there's still a lot we don't know about how Apple will execute the transition to USB-C for the iPhone. Apple rarely discusses new products before announcing them, meaning we don't have much insight on details like whether all new iPhones will get USB-C, or just those sold in Europe.

Apple declined to share further details regarding future plans to bring USB-C to the iPhone.

Will the iPhone 15 have a USB-C charging port?

A close-up view of an iPhone 13 Pro Lightning port

Today's iPhones use the Lightning port to charge.

Stephen Shankand/CNET

There's a chance the iPhone 15 could have a USB-C port instead of the Lightning connector, but it's impossible to know until Apple releases its next iPhone. The EU's rules say all mobile phones sold in the EU will need to have a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024. That means it's unclear whether Apple will start the transition in 2023 with what will presumably be the iPhone 15, or wait until 2024.

But Chiew Le Xuan, a research analyst for Canalys, thinks the switch could come sooner rather than later.

"What we think is that Apple will bring Type C to the iPhone 15 series," he said. "So, similar to what they did for the iPads [and] the Macs: They sort of just transitioned the whole product line." 

Apple has reportedly tested iPhone models with USB-C in the past. Bloomberg reported last May that Apple was testing future iPhone models with USB-C, as well as an adapter that would enable these iPhones to work with Lightning connections. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for TF International Securities known for his Apple predictions, also said Apple plans to convert the iPhone to USB-C in 2023. Leaker ShrimpApplePro (who also leaked the Dynamic Island's design early) tweeted in April that USB-C versions of Apple's EarPod wired headphones are in mass production, potentially hinting that the next iPhone could have a USB-C port. 

It's also worth noting that Apple is a member of the USB Implementers Forum, a nonprofit organization that was formed to further advance USB development and adoption.

What's the reasoning behind the EU's new rules?

The new mandate is part of an effort to simplify the charging experience for consumers and cut down on electronic waste. 

"Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices," reads a European Parliament press release.

The shift is also meant to help cut down on the roughly 11,000 metric tons (12,125 tons) of annual e-waste resulting from unused chargers in the EU, the release says. 

Watch this: Apple Might Finally Bring USB-C to iPhone 15

Will all future iPhones adopt USB-C, or just those in Europe? 

This is another question we won't know the answer to until Apple releases future iPhone models. But Maurice Klahne, senior research analyst at Counterpoint Research, thinks it seems likely Apple will transition the iPhone to USB-C more broadly rather than keeping it region-specific. 

"It's just simply too costly to make different devices for different regions," he said. "And so Apple will likely make the switch everywhere all at once."

What benefits does USB-C offer over Lightning?

1-meter Apple Lightning-USB-C cable
Stephen Shankland/CNET

The transition to USB-C could result in more perks and conveniences for iPhone owners. For example, you'd be able to use the same charger that powers other devices, like your MacBook laptop or iPad, to charge your iPhone. There's also a broad accessory ecosystem for USB-C, considering it's been standard on most electronics for the better part of the last decade. Plenty of Apple's own products already rely on USB-C rather than Lightning, such as the iPad Air, iPad Pro and Apple's lineup of MacBooks. 

It's possible the switch to USB-C could result in faster charging and data transfers, specifically on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Kuo has reported that only the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will support high-speed data transfers over USB-C, for example. 

Le Xuan agrees, saying Apple will likely do more to separate the regular iPhone 15 from its premium sibling this year.

"By then moving into a Type C switch, we will probably see some sort of differentiation between the Pro and Pro Max and the non-Pro Max in terms of charging speeds," he said.

Will I need an Apple-specific USB-C cable?

You shouldn't need an Apple-made cable to charge your iPhone when Apple makes the switch to USB-C. After all, that would defeat the purpose of the EU's push toward a universal charging cable.

But the company could potentially make it so that Apple-certified USB-C cables offer benefits over noncertified alternatives. Kuo, for example, reports that Apple will likely optimize chargers that are part of the company's MFi certification program to offer faster charging speeds.  ShrimpApplePro  also tweeted in February that cables without an MFi certification will be limited in charging and data transfer speeds. 

Apple hasn't spoken about its plans for the iPhone 15 or future USB-C charging cables beyond the comments made at The Wall Street Journal's conference. But a move like this could help Apple boost its accessory ecosystem by maintaining some level of exclusivity as it embraces the switch to a universal iPhone charger.

"Even though their walled garden isn't as walled anymore," said Klahne, "they can still make these little adjustments to keep their iOS base more walled off from the general Android market." 

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 15 lineup on Sept. 12 during its usual annual product launch event. Other than USB-C charging, rumors suggest new Action button could arrive on the Pro models, while the Dynamic Island is expected to expand to non-Pro versions.