iPhone 15 might remove Lightning port but Apple has bigger charging problems

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
iPhone 15 might remove Lightning port but Apple has bigger charging problems
As the EU is closing in on introducing a new law that will require phone-makers (amongst other manufacturers) to remove all proprietary charging ports from their devices and switch to USB-C (the port regarded as the gold standard when it comes to charging and data transfer), we all have our eyes on Cupertino...

It comes to no one’s surprise that the European Union’s amendment is partially aimed at the biggest player in the tech industry - Apple. And while I’ll leave the morals of the story for another day (should government legislation directly interfere with businesses’ design decisions), I’ll admit that I’m onboard with this amendment (which still isn't set in stone).

However, the reason I want the iPhone 15 to (finally) switch ports isn’t just because “USB-C is better than Lightning”, which is a fact. Really, Apple’s charging situation has been a bit of a mess for a long time now, and it’s time to talk about it all.

iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, and all things Apple that can take a charge…

Slow charging on modern iPhones, including iPhone 13 Pro and possibly iPhone 14

Before we get to the bigger talking points, I can’t cut Apple any slack, which is why I’ll address the biggest  elephant in the room, which admittedly isn’t the most problematic elephant. iPhones charging is slow.

Here are the charging speeds of Apple's top flagship, iPhone 13 Pro Max:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max charging time with a 65W charger ≈ 1:45h
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max charging time with a 20W charger ≈ 1:55h
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max charging time with MagSafe ≈ 2:20h

Of course, the most common charger amongst all users will be Apple’s standard 20W charger, which as you can see, can top up the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 4352 mAh battery in two hours (give or take).

On the technical part, this is extremely slow, especially when compared to modern Android flagships from OnePlus, Xiaomi, and even Samsung, which support 45-120W charging speeds, and charge fully in 15-30 minutes, or about an hour in Samsung’s case.

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Then, on the practical side of things, as someone who’s been using a fast-charging device for over two years (Huawei P30 Pro), I can tell you that it can be a day-saver, if not a life-saver. So, the question remains: Why does my 2019 Huawei phone charge twice as fast as an iPhone 13 Pro Max, which features roughly the same size battery? Apple? Anyone?

iPhone 13: MagSafe isn’t safe... or wireless… and certainly not fast…

We move on to Apple’s MagSafe chargers, which were introduced with iPhone 12 and clearly are here to stay, for reasons unclear to me and I believe many more. To cut to the chase, I have only three problems with MagSafe:

  • MagSafe isn't just slow but it’s the slowest (wired) way to charge a phone in 2022
  • MagSafe is less “wireless” than standard wireless charging because it’s basically a magnetic wired charger
  • MagSafe isn't really… safe, which was the original goal of MagSafe on Mac (you can certainly knock your iPhone off the table if you trip over the cable)

And… that’s about it. I don’t see any real advantages of charging an iPhone with MagSafe. Of course, the fact that you can attach accessories magnetically thanks to that functionality is indeed a very useful feature, but it has nothing to do with the MagSafe charger itself.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro: Reverse Wireless Charging, Apple?

Why Reverse Wireless Charging is the best feature iPhone doesn't have

This one feels like a personal pet peeve of mine more so than the rest of Apple’s “charging problems”, but I find it truly puzzling. Both my Pixel 6 Pro and Huawei P30 Pro (2019), can charge my wireless earbuds wirelessly - I just need to place my earbuds on the back of the phones. This might seem like a gimmicky feature to some who've never used it, but that’s only if you think of it in the context of "staying at home where you have access to a charger".

But once you start moving around - whether you find yourself at the gym, having forgotten to charge your earbuds, or on a trip where you are trying to pack lightly, and want to take just a charger and a Lightning cable with you, Reverse Wireless Charging can be a really useful feature to have, which would allow you to charge your AirPods and maybe even Apple Watch on the back of your iPhone.

Not to mention that similarly to fast charging, Reverse Wireless Charging can save the day. For instance, you can top up someone’s dead phone just enough so they are able to use Google Maps or call an Uber to get home safely.

It seems like Reverse Wireless Charging isn't coming to iPhone 14

So, yes - you should absolutely be able to charge your AirPods and even Apple Watch on the back of your iPhone, but it doesn’t look like this feature is coming to iPhone 14. At least according to leaks and rumors, which don't mention RWC.

The more bizarre part of the story is that iPhone 13 supports passthrough charging, where you are able to charge your iPhone, which then itself can charge Apple’s MagSafe battery pack at the same time, when this one is attached to it. This means that the tech is virtually there, but Apple’s decided to skip giving iPhone 13 actual RWC.

It’s believed that Apple might introduce Reverse Wireless Charging on iPad first, but of course for that to happen, the iPad needs to switch to using glass or plastic on its back or at least a small portion of it. iPhone users? Get in the queue.

Different chargers for every Apple device: The bad Apple in the walled garden

But the real bad apple in the walled garden isn’t the fact that iPhones charge slowly or… MagSafe. It’s the fact that nearly the entire Apple product portfolio uses different chargers. Let me elaborate:

  • The iPhone charges via a Lightning cable
  • Most iPads charge via USB-C, but the standard iPad still uses a Lightning port
  • The latest MacBook Pro can charge via USB-C but MagSafe delivers the fastest charging you can get, and that's the only cable you get in the box
  • AirPods charge via a Lightning cable but Beats headphones and earbuds (made by Apple) use USB-C
  • The Apple Watch uses a proprietary charger, which has been around for ages

To put all of that into perspective, if you were to go on a trip, carrying your iPhone, iPad Pro, Apple Watch and MacBook Pro (2021), you’d need to carry four separate cables in order to be able to charge those devices and/or take full advantage of their charging capabilities.

And of course if you don’t have a multipoint charger, you’d also need four separate charging bricks - a problem that Apple might address (or almost address) soon thanks to the introduction of the leaked Apple dual USB-C port charger that’s expected to go on sale soon.

In the end: Is it all about money and is iPhone 15 going to be portless?

It's strange to see such a key part of Apple’s ecosystem be overlooked, to say the least... Apple products are meant to work seamlessly together, and they do, except for that one part which is charging. And that’s just not the Apple experience that people would expect from the world's biggest tech company.

Does Cupertino prioritise petty cash over a universal charging solution, which would make people’s lives easier? Likely. It’s also probably why Tim Cook & Co decided to do away with the chargers in the iPhone box, which is another bizarre move, now adopted by a number of Android phone-makers, including Samsung.

On that topic... Why not make the in-box charger optional and let people decide if they need it? Also, why not give the iPhone 14 Pro fast-charging? Let it be a “pro” feature if not a standard one. Or why not give it Reverse Wireless Charging so it can charge an Apple Watch and AirPods?

Perhaps that was Apple's plan all along... a portless iPhone. We've heard rumors of an iPhone without a SIM-card tray, and of course the gossip around Apple's "wireless charging-only" iPhone has been traveling around for years now.

Well, it seems like thanks to the EU, 2023 might be the year when we get the answers to this long-standing question. In my view, Apple will not agree to switch to USB-C, since if the company was inclined to doing so, they would've done it a while back. The most obvious solution for Apple now remains MagSafe. And you already know how I feel about it.

How do you feel about it?

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