The Last 8 Apple Products That Still Need a USB-C Upgrade
Apple has converted most of its devices to USB-C, but there are still some stuck with Lightning. It’s time to move on.
The day has finally come when we can charge the latest iPhones with USB-C cables. With Apple adopting the standard for its flagship smartphone, the company has all but embraced USB-C. The journey began with the European Union’s proposal to require a mandatory USB-C standard across consumer electronics, which was eventually signed into law in late 2022.
The iPhone was the last major holdout since Apple’s entire MacBook lineup already switched to USB-C starting in 2015. The new 10th-generation iPad — the only iPad with a horizontal FaceTime camera — has a USB-C port. Even the Siri Remote in the third-generation Apple TV 4K (2022) replaced the Lightning port with USB-C. Apple also just announced a second-gen AirPods Pro case with USB-C at its latest event.
So it makes perfect sense that Lightning is nearing the end of its life after 10 years of gracing Apple devices. With the EU deadline slated for the end of 2024, there are still a bunch of Apple products that need the USB-C refresh. Here’s everything Apple is still selling that needs a Lightning port replacement.
All the Apple devices that still need USB-C
Release date: October 2021
These third-generation AirPods hit shelves a year ago. Considering we’re about due for the next generation of AirPods, Apple would be wise to just refresh the earbuds with a USB-C port. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is expecting a refreshed AirPods with USB-C to come out sometime in 2024.
Release date: March 2019
The oldest (and cheapest) AirPods that Apple still sells. If Apple is going to announce its next-gen AirPods as soon as 2024, it’s likely time to drop these from the lineup to align with the EU’s law.
Release date: December 2020
Apple’s over-ear ANC headphones have yet to be updated since their release in December 2020. They’re due for a refresh, which might as well come with USB-C. Along with the non-ANC AirPods, Gurman also predicted that a refreshed AirPods Max with USB-C to release as early as next year.
Release date: September 2021
The 9th-generation iPad is the only iPad Apple sells that hasn’t made the jump to USB-C. There’s a chance Apple will stop selling it in the EU to comply with the proposed USB-C legislation. But if it keeps this iPad in the lineup, it should just drop Lightning.
Apple Pencil (1st-gen)
Release date: November 2015
The Apple Pencil dates back to a November 2015 release, but it’s relevant again since it’s the only Apple stylus that’s compatible with the 10th-gen iPad. Sure, you can buy better USB-C-equipped alternatives, and the second-gen Apple Pencil charges magnetically with all other iPads, but if Apple is gonna keep this old guy around, it should get a new plug.
Release date: March 2022
Apple released an updated version of the Magic Mouse in March 2022, but it still charges via Lightning. Even worse, the charging port is on the bottom of the mouse meaning you can’t use it while it’s plugged in.
Release date: May 2021
Last updated in May 2021, the wireless and wired versions of Apple’s keyboards could use an update with — you guessed it — USB-C. There haven’t been many rumors about Apple refreshing its accessories with USB-C, but they still have to meet the deadline of the end of 2024.
Magic Trackpad 2
Release date: October 2015
The latest Magic Trackpad 2 comes in black or white; there are also color-matched trackpads to M1 iMacs. And while the included cable has Lightning on one end and USB-C on the other, it’s past time to make it USB-C on both sides.
Wireless future, USB-C present
As you can see, all of Apple’s major devices have already made the transition to USB-C, including the most recent inclusion of the iPhone. And while Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak, is right that switching to USB-C would create a ton of e-waste as consumers replace their Lightning cables with USB-C ones, everyone wants the change, including the EU.
Replacing Lightning with USB-C isn’t just for the benefit of charging. The reversible port/plug is capable of way faster data transfer speeds, especially if it’s infused with Thunderbolt technology. Transferring large RAW photos or video files over USB-C would be a big selling point for future iPhone Pros.
The future is no doubt wireless — the controversial one-port 12-inch MacBook and canceled AirPower were clear advances toward a cable-free world — but it’s unlikely that future is ready anytime soon. In the meantime, Apple will just have to comply with USB-C on all of its devices.
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