In one project, the iPhone has been modified to use USB-C connections instead of Lightning, hinting at what the oft-rumored port switch could bring.
Apple has been slowly shifting its products toward USB-C connectivity, and the latest iPad Mini makes the switch.While the iPhone has yet to make that leap, a YouTube video shows one enterprising user already using USB-C on his smartphone.
In a short YouTube video titled "World's First USB-C iPhone," Ken Pillonel claims to have installed USB-C components into the iPhone X, replacing Lightning in the process. In the video, the iPhone is said to be able to receive power over this connection, as well as transmit data over a USB-C cable. In the video's description, Pillonel says he reverse-engineered Apple's C94 connector to make a PCB with a mother USB-C port.
Once the schematic was finalized, it was a challenge to scale it down and install it on the iPhone.
Pillonel spent a few months working on it, and laid out his thoughts on the switch, as well as the challenges of switching to the Lightning port itself, in a blog post by May.
A video from the time showed a DIY prototype that took off and mapped out future work to make it small enough to work inside an iPhone case. An update in late September showed that he had designed and ordered a flexible PCB, a key component in enabling the port switch. He added that a future video is in the works explaining how the board is made and how it fits into the iPhone itself.
While the project gives hope to those who long for Apple to ditch Lighting, it's not a task that the average iPhone user can accomplish on their own. With a background in electronics and a master's degree in robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Pinonel has the skills and knowledge to pull off the feat.
According to Apple's repair terms and conditions, if unauthorized changes result in Apple being unable to fix reported device issues, the changes will be considered "expired" when the iPhone needs to be repaired. These add-ons could result in additional costs or make it impossible for Apple to fix at all.
In September, the European Commission proposed legislation that would designate USB-C as a standard charging port for all mobile devices. If it works, Apple will have two years to add connectivity to the iPhone.
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