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This story is part of iPhone 2022 focal pointCNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Apple’s most popular product.
The iPhone 14 smartphones go a step further in Apple’s pursuit of a portless phone by making the new models sleeker and sturdier by removing the SIM card slot and relying on eSIM chips.
Gone is another mechanical vulnerability to dust and water, following Apple’s choice to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from 2016. ditching the physical home button starting in 2017. Extrapolating into the future, you can expect Apple to ditch the charging and data port, ushering in the era of portless iPhones.
I really hope not.
I’m all for progress, but I think it’s best to keep some of those copper cables in our lives — even though it goes against the idea of a sleek, seamless gadget that Apple is aiming for, and which is now becoming feasible, as CNET points out senior editor Lisa Eadicico.
Elegant sounds great, but hear me out. There are three big problems with a portless iPhone: charging inconvenience, slow data transfer, and rejection of wired headphones. Here’s a look at the situation.
Disadvantages of iPhone wireless charging
The first big problem with a portless iPhone is that it will be harder to charge.
You may have charging pads in your kitchen, in your office, in your car, and maybe even on your bedside table. You still need to charge your phone elsewhere: at the airport, in a rental car, at your friend’s house, in a college lecture hall, at a conference. Lugging around the necessary charger and cable for your “wireless” charging is even worse than carrying a regular charger with a cable.
Of course, some places already have them built in, including coffee shops and airports, but you don’t want to roll the dice on availability. Chances are good you will lose.
Wireless chargers are also more expensive, often bulkier, and can be finicky about phone placement, even with Apple’s MagSafe technology to better align your phone. Several times I’ve woken up in the morning or been driving for hours and found the wireless charging not working.
Cable charging is also faster, wastes less power and doesn’t heat up my phone.
If Apple ever ditches its now-archaic Lightning port and embraces the iPhone’s USB-C port, as I expect, its charging and data port will become more useful. I already use USB-C to charge my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Framework laptop, Sony noise-canceling headphones, Pixel 6 Pro phone, Pixel Buds Pro case, and Nintendo Switch game console and controllers. When I travel, I always carry a USB-C charger with me, and I expect USB-C ports to become more common in airports, airplanes, hotels, cars, and coffee shops. Don’t hold your breath for a wireless charging pad wedged into an economy class seat.
“There’s no doubt that USB-C is long overdue for the iPhone, especially considering it’s on the iPad and Mac,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said. “It’s not always possible to do wireless or MagSafe.”
iPhone data transfer speed
The convenience of wireless data transfer makes it the norm for phones. Gone are the days when we had to plug our phones into our laptops to sync and back up data.
But if you’re one of those creative types that Apple shows up at every iPhone launch event, shooting 4K video for your indie film, you’ll appreciate cable data transfer to get that video to your laptop faster. This is especially true if you’re shooting with Apple’s ProRes video.
A 1-minute ProRes clip I shot recently is 210MB; imagine how quickly you will spend the gigabytes if you shoot more seriously. Wired connections can also be good for transferring lots of photos using a tool like Apple’s Image Capture utility or Adobe’s Lightroom photo editing and cataloging software.
Wired headphones if you can’t afford AirPods
I know, I know, AirPods or some other wireless headphones are a booming business these days. But wired headphones remain useful. They are even a retro fashion statement for some.
I like them because they don’t drain the battery and don’t suffer from the instability of Bluetooth. And they’re much harder to lose or drop into a street drain while running to catch the bus.
Wired headphones are much cheaper. Maybe you can afford the second-generation AirPods Pro for $249, but not everyone can. The 3.5mm audio jack is being pushed out of smartphones, but an iPhone with USB-C ports would mean you’re more likely to pick up a cheap set of headphones at the airport travel shop if you’ve forgotten your AirPods.
Maybe there’s room for compromise—one iPhone for the wireless-only crowd and another model for people like me. But Apple doesn’t like to burden users with confusing choices, so I’d be surprised.
Case for portless iPhones
There are, of course, some significant benefits we’d get from a portless iPhone.
It will bring a new level of elegance and reduce the amount of cable clutter in your life. iPhone cases would be sturdier and more impervious to water and dust. Apple will get some extra internal space that it can fill with a larger battery or other electronics.
“An iPhone without a port is probably more rigid structurally and allows more room for a Taptic Engine or speakers or maybe an antenna,” said Anschel Sagg, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Apple, which does not usually discuss its future plans, did not comment for this story.
Advances in wireless charging and data transfer technologies make portless iPhones possible. More improvements are also likely: better Wi-Fi. Wireless charging that works anywhere in the room, not just on a charging pad. The potential use of ultra-wideband positioning technology for fast data transfer over short distances as well.
I’m already enjoying today’s wireless technologies that would make a portless iPhone possible. I just think the disadvantages of relying exclusively on them outweigh the advantages.
The best future is the one that keeps that charging and data port. So Apple, please don’t drop it either. And while your engineers are on the subject, how about USB-C?
Apple’s iPhone dream may actually turn into a nightmare – Digital Tech Blog
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