If iPhone Moves to USB-C, We Must Embrace One Last Dongle
Apple is rumored to be mulling a switch from Lightning ports to USB-C. It would mean more people will have to use a dongle in the short term, but it'd be for the best.
Image: Shutterstock / Remix by Jason Koebler
For Apple consumers, there is no word more viscerally upsetting than “Dongle.” (Besides, arguably, “Touch Bar.”) According to rumors from Digitimes that have rapidly spread, the 2019 iPhone may use USB-C instead of a Lightning port. If this comes to pass, current iPhone users are cruising for another Dongling. The one glimmer of hope: it could be the Last Dongling for quite some time (until USB-C is usurped as a standard, if that should come to pass.)
The move to USB-C would make sense, as it's already an industry standard, unlike the Lightning port and connector, which are proprietary Apple creations. USB-C is already the charging method for many MacBooks, and would streamline the process of charging an Apple device (iPhone) with another Apple device (MacBook) which currently requires a dongle.
If Apple does move to USB-C, existing iPhones with Lightning ports would require a dongle (or at least a new cable, which, arguably, is a dongle) to use all new USB-C peripherals and chargers, and USB-C iPhones would require a dongle to work with legacy Lightning accessories.
If Apple does actually move to USB-C, we should brace for a level of internet rage only Cupertino-concocted shiny things can evoke. There are reasons to believe Apple won’t actually do this—as Gizmodo points out, Lightning is a proprietary Apple connector that the company makes a lot of money off of, by licensing it to companies via its Made for iPhone (MFi) program.
But if Apple does make this shift, it is possible to imagine a future in which we use dongles and specialized cables only for obscure tasks such as plugging iPhones into HDMI projectors. Not all dongles will go away immediately: USB-C headphones are still a mess and are not widely available in corner stores and such, so we may be stuck with headphone dongles until they are ubiquitous, or everyone goes wireless. Still, if you peer deep enough into your crystal ball, a potentially dongleless future may exist after one final dongle allows users to endure the shift from Lightning to USB-C.
For Android users, the prospect of Apple adopting USB-C for iPhones is exciting. Typically, if you forget your USB-C charger, these users are left stranded once their phones have lost a charge. Based on this rumor, I can almost imagine a future in which every bar, coffee shop, and public place has a USB-C charger at the ready, as Lighting chargers seem to be now. World peace, fostered by iPhone-Android charging compatibility.
In order to eventually reach this dongle-less future—where Android and iPhone users can share chargers, and perhaps, one day, even humanity—we must embrace a Final Dongling.