There has been a lot of speculation that Apple is getting ready to abandon the 30-pin connector that Apple has used on iPods, the iPhone and the iPad for nearly a decade. Reuters is throwing its weight behind claims that the days of the existing dock connector are limited.
According to "two sources familiar with the matter," the current 30-pin connector will be replaced with a smaller 19-pin connector port in order "to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom" of the smartphone.
There's no doubt that the current dock is a pretty big piece of kit, taking up valuable space inside its iOS-powered devices; space that could be better put to use by other hardware. The following image gives you an idea of how much space the dock takes up inside the current iPhone 4S:
Here is the complete dock, stripped out of the handset. It consists of the dock and the primary microphone:
The catalyst for all these rumors seems to be the a video showing a metal chassis purporting to belong to the upcoming iPhone 5 that was posted to YouTube by parts reseller ETradeSupply. This showed a much smaller slot for the dock connector and a headphone jack hole that was moved to the bottom of the iPhone.
Here's a condensed version of the current iPhone dock connector rumors:
- New connector is going to be a 19-pin connector as opposed to the current 30-pin connector;
- The new connector will save a hefty chunk of space inside the iPhone, as much as 50 percent smaller than the current connector;
- New dock connector will feature a magnetic connector, similar to the MagSafe connector found on MacBook systems;
- The new dock connector is thought to be more water resistant;
- The new dock connector will be 'chipped' in such a way that unlicensed peripherals -- including possibly cables -- won't work.
While I'm willing to accept that Apple might be gearing up to revamp the dock connector, I find it hard to believe that the primary reason for this is to make room for the headphone jack on the bottom of the device. It seems like a lot of disruption for the sake of moving the jack.
Above all else, it's going to be a real hassle -- not to mention expensive -- for anyone who has invested in accessories for their iPhone.
The bottom line is if Apple does change the dock connector, you're going to have to replace everything that currently plugs into your iPhone's dock connector, including chargers, in-car chargers, FM transmitters, music docks, and so on.
If your car has is kitted out with a 30-pin connector then that's also going to become obsolete. However, depending on your car, you might be in luck here and not have to replace the entire car. Many built-in in-car connectors are simply a 30-pin to USB connector, so it should be possible to retrofit these with the new connector.
Assuming you can do this, while it's not likely to be too expensive, it will be cheaper than replacing the whole car.
There's been speculation that Apple could sell an adapter allowing the 19-pin connector to be hooked up to accessories designed for the 30-pin. This would be a good idea as it would prevent all the accessories out there from going obsolete overnight -- and potentially being binned en masse, but if Apple does indeed chip the connector to prevent unlicensed hardware being attached to the new iPhone, this might not be possible.