Apple will retain their Lightning connector for the iPhone without any intention of using USB. Despite half of the industry preferring and using USB-C, Apple won’t be using it for replacing the Lightning connector of the iPhone 13 or any other iPhone model for now. Apple is reluctant to use USB-C as it’s not as waterproof as Lightning.
Reasons for not using USB
Currently, Apple can regulate and monitor the quality of the cables Lightning & the accessories through the MFi (Made for iPhone) program. This program also generates a good amount of income since the third-party manufacturers need to provide Apple with a fairly considerable commission for making the accessories and cables of Lightning.
Apple used lightning connectors on each iPhone since the launch of the iPhone 5 in the year 2012. But it transitioned many devices of it to USB-C, including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro & most recently, iPad Air. Features like external display connectivity are not possible to include in an iPhone and that is why Apple is not very motivated and interested in switching to USB-C on the most profitable product of it.
Cons of using USB
Transitioning iPhones to USB-C can leave a good number of devices like the entry-level iPad, AirPods, iPad Mini & many other accessories such as the MagSafe Duo charger and Magic Trackpad into a major problem. They will be stuck with connectors that will not be used widely on the flagship products. Thus, switching the iPhones to USB-C will tip all scales against lightning. It will force the company to remove the connector entirely for a good number of products way sooner than it intends to.
Switching to USB-C will be more wasteful as compared to sticking with Lightning because customers will need new adapters and cables. Also, Apple will lose out on the revenue that it makes from the Lightning cables.
What is Apple using instead of USB?
Apple offers ports of Lightning to customers both in its home market in the United States and also to the markets of other countries. The EU proposed to use USB for Apple devices. But Apple did not fully agree with it. Apple decided to build 2 variants of hardware for the future iPhones. They include USB-C connectors for the European market for avoiding legislation. For the other markets, they will be offering the good old Lightning variant. However, separating the hardware portfolio of it in this way will increase the cost of production.
Another alternative for Apple can be to make an iPhone without any ports. The proposed legislation of the EU will be applicable for wired charging. The company may bypass it if they can come up with such a model of iPhone.
There is still a long way for Apple to go as the EU will provide manufacturers with 2 years for transition if this proposal becomes law. The process can of course take quite a bit of time.