Should Apple abandon its Lightning connector and adopt USB-C instead? I’m wondering how much easier life would be if all phones used the same cables.
A couple of weeks back, a story emerged that Apple’s Lightning connector’s days could be numbered, thanks to the European Commission’s push to adopt a standardised charger.
With more and more of our digital lives powered through USB cables I think it makes some sense to have a common charger for everything.
There would be no need to worry about adaptors or ask around to borrow one that works on your model of phone.
But Apple has responded strongly, saying that that dropping the Lightning connector ‘would create an unprecedented amount of electronic waste‘.
Do you agree with its concerns?
A long history of cables
The world of charging cables was a very different place when we first asked this question nearly 10 years ago:
“We have the type A, the type B, the micro A and the micro B, and also the mini A and the mini B, plus there are 8- and 5-pin varieties of the mini B. And then there are still all the manufacturer’s own models (think iPhone USB connection)”
The EC’s efforts to standardise were born from this massive cable tangle of more than 30 different types of connectors on the market.
And these efforts paid off, with a voluntary approach that reduced the number of connectors down to three, and also separated the actual charging cable from the USB socket converter, enabling them to be reused beyond the original device.
E-waste and innovation
Put simply, there are billions of cables out there, and even with the best intentions a great many of these would end up in the growing pile of global e-waste.
Another argument is that innovation would be stifled by products having to be designed around a single interface, rather than to be designed for what’s possible.
Could that then outweigh the benefits for the consumer or the environment?
Is this actually a problem?
To power my digital life I tend to carry one of each type of cable with me to power my devices. Were there to be a single standard, I’d still carry three cables – though I’d have to buy two new ones.
What do you think? Would having the simplicity of one cable be beneficial to you in any way?
Would you worry about the environmental impact disposing your old cables might have? Or maybe you’re a step beyond already and making use of wireless charging?