Apple’s iPhone dream could actually be a nightmare

This story is part of it Focal Point iPhone 2022CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.

The iPhone 14 smartphone take Apple’s quest for a mobile phone one step further by making the new models sleeker and more powerful, leaving the SIM card slot and are based on eSIM chips.

Another mechanical vulnerability to dust and water is gone, after Apple opted to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack from 2016 and dropping the physical home button starting in 2017. Going forward, you can expect Apple to ditch the charging and data port after that, ushering in the age of the portless iPhone.

I certainly hope not.

I’m all for progress, but I think it’s better to keep some of those copper wires in our lives — even though that goes against the idea of ​​a sleek and seamless gadget that Apple aspires to and is now becoming possible, as CNET points out editor-in-chief Lisa Eadicicco.

Elegant sounds great, but hear me out. There are three big problems with a portable iPhone: the hassle of charging, slow data transfer, and ditching wired headphones. Here’s a look at the situation.

Shortcomings of wireless charging for iPhone

The first big problem with a portable iPhone is that it would be harder to charge.

You may well have charging pads in your kitchen, office, car, and maybe even on your bedside table. However, you need to charge your phone elsewhere: at the airport, in a rental car, at your friend’s house, in a college lecture hall, at a conference. Carrying the necessary charger and cable for your “wireless” charging is even worse than carrying a regular wired charger.

Sure, some venues now have them built in, like coffee shops and airports, but you don’t want to roll the dice based on availability. Chances are good, you’ll lose.

Wireless chargers are also more expensive, often bulkier, and can be difficult to place on the phone, even with Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. On several occasions I’ve woken up in the morning or driven for hours and discovered that the wireless charging wasn’t working.

Wired charging is also faster, wastes less power, and doesn’t leave my phone piping hot.

If Apple ever ditches the archaic Lightning port and embraces the USB-C port on iPhones, as I expect it to, its charging and data port becomes more useful. I already use USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Framework laptop, Sony noise canceling headphones, Pixel 6 Pro phone, Pixel Buds Pro case, and Nintendo Switch game console and controllers. I always carry a USB-C charger with me when I travel, and I expect USB-C ports to become more common in airports, planes, hotels, cars, and coffee shops. Don’t hold your breath for a wireless charging pad jammed into an economy seat.

“There’s no question that USB-C is long overdue on an iPhone, especially given that it’s on iPads and Macs,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi. “It’s not always possible to do wireless or MagSafe.”

iPhone data transfer speed

The ease of wireless data transfer makes it the norm for phones. Gone are the days when we needed to connect our phones to our laptops to sync and back up data.

But if you’re one of those creative types that Apple shows up at every iPhone launch event, shooting 4K video for your indie film, you’ll appreciate wired data transfer to get that video to your laptop faster. This is especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.


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A 1 minute ProRes clip I shot recently is 210MB. Imagine how quickly you’ll go through gigabytes if you’re more serious about photography. Wired connections can also be good for transferring lots of photos, using a tool like Apple’s Image Capture utility or Adobe’s Lightroom photo editing and cataloging software.

Wired headphones if you can’t buy AirPods

I know, I know, AirPods or any other wireless headphones these days are a booming business. But wired headphones remain useful. They are even a retro fashion statement for some.

I like them because they don’t run out of battery or suffer from Bluetooth peeling. And it’s much harder to misplace them or hit a street gutter while running to catch the bus.

Wired headphones are much cheaper. Maybe you can afford the $249 second-generation AirPods Pro, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is missing from smartphones, but iPhones with USB-C ports would mean you were more likely to be able to pick up a cheap set of headphones at the airport travel shop if you forgot your AirPods.

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

I’d rather have a USB-C port than this Apple Lightning port on my iPhone, but I’d prefer either to compare the port at all.

Stephen Shankand/CNET

Maybe there’s room for compromise — one iPhone for the wireless-only crowd and another model for people like me. But Apple doesn’t like to stick consumers with confusing options, so I’d be surprised.

Case for portable iPhones

There are, of course, some significant advantages that we would get from a portable iPhone.

It would bring a new level of elegance and reduce the volume of cables in your life. iPhone cases would be stronger and more impervious to water and dust. Apple would have some extra internal space that could be filled with a larger battery or other electronics.

“A portable iPhone is probably more structurally rigid and allows more room for the Taptic Engine or speakers or maybe an antenna,” said Anshel Sag, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Apple, which does not usually discuss its future plans, did not comment for this story.

Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make a portable iPhone possible. More advances are also possible: better Wi-Fi; Wireless charging that works anywhere in a room, not just on a charging dock. The potential use of ultra-wideband positioning technology for fast short-range data transfer.

I’m already enjoying today’s wireless technologies that would make a portable iPhone possible. I just think the cons of relying on them solely outweigh the pros.

The best future is the one that keeps that charging and data port. Well, Apple, don’t miss out either. And while your engineers are looking into it, how about USB-C?

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