Seven reasons I'm glad Apple's killing the Dock Connector

Seven reasons I'm glad Apple's killing the Dock Connector

Summary: Ding-Dong! Apple's wicked 30-pin Dock Connector is dead!

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TOPICS: iPhone
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Rejoice! The 30-pin dock connector is dead

A new, smaller Micro USB port was spotted on the bottom of leaked iPhone 5 parts in a post on Mobilefun as well as in this video. Now TechCrunch has confirmed that Apple is indeed switching to a "19-pin" (presumably Micro USB) port on its forthcoming iPhone 5.

Huzzah!

I've always detested Apple's dreadful 30-pin "Dock Connector" and its associated cable. Here are some of the reasons why:

It's proprietary. This means that if you want to charge or sync your iOS device, you need to buy one of these puppies from Apple. Sure, there are copies made by third parties, but they're usually lower quality, don't always work well and rarely last as long as the Apple OEM version.

It's expensive. The OEM Dock Connector to USB Cable (Apple PN MA591G/B) will set you back $19 (plus shipping). That's a King's ransom considering that a 6-foot Micro USB cable can be purchased for $0.59 (with free shipping!) That makes the Apple Dock Connector cable half as short and 32 times more expensive than Micro USB. Sigh.

The cable's too short. At a paltry 39" (0.9m), the Apple Dock Connector cable is a hair over a yard (and under one meter) in length. Which is about long enough to reach from the surge protector on your floor to a short table. Heck it barely reaches to the top of a standard 32-inch high desk. Most people need to buy a longer version -- which Apple doesn't make -- leading to the aforementioned quality and power problems (especially with the new power-hungry iPad 3).

It's a crutch. Apple relied on its proprietary, expensive Dock Connector cable as the only way to sync its revolutionary iPhone for far too long. Especially for a device with three (count 'em) wireless radios.

The connector itself is enormous. At 26.1mm x 5.7mm the Dock Connector itself is almost 4 times larger (in each dimension) than a Micro USB plug, which measures a svelte 6.85mm x 1.8mm, which is over 12 times larger in volume (148.77 cubic mm vs. 12.33 cubic mm). The Dock Connector is the only reason that the iPod nano is as large as it is.

A Micro USB plug measures a svelte 6.85mm x 1.8mm

It was antiquated in 2007. Micro USB connector technology was announced by the USB Implementers Forum on January 4, 2007.

It's illegal. The European Commission approved a policy requiring all mobile phones to adopt the standard Micro USB charging connector beginning in January 2011. In October 2011 Apple began bundling European iPhones with an iPhone Micro USB Adapter to comply with the new law.

(The new Apple dongle, incidentally, is available in the US on eBay and Amazon for around $13.)

Although today's news is sure to send shockwaves through the third-party accessory community, I will happily dance a jig on the Dock Connector's grave when it happens.

My question: would this have happened under Steve's watch?

Top Photo: TechCrunch

Topic: iPhone

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36 comments
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  • And you believe them?

    "A new, smaller Micro USB port was spotted on the bottom of leaked iPhone 5 parts in a post on Mobilefun as well as in this video. Now TechCrunch has confirmed that Apple is indeed switching to a '19-pin' (presumably Micro USB) port on its forthcoming iPhone 5."

    How many times has predictions about Apple hardware turned out to be true, even with "leaked" stuff? Turns out Apple intentionally makes a lot of red herrings.

    "It???s a crutch."

    Thankfully, that crutch is mostly gone with iOS 5.

    "Especially for a device with three (count ???em) wireless radios."

    -WiFi
    -Bluetooth
    -2G
    -3G
    -In an iPhone 5, possibly 4G?
    -GPS

    We're talking 5-6 radios, actually.

    "It???s illegal."

    Might be the only reason why Apple would do such a thing. And knowing Apple, they might limit that change to phones produced for nations covered by the European Commission.
    CobraA1
    • Micro-USB doesn't have 19 pins

      So whatever Apple is switching to, it is still proprietary. They may use something that is form-factor compatible with Micro-USB to meet the European charging requirement, but it still won't be "standard" by any means.

      Apple has a lot of justification for using a proprietary connecter, since it serves so many different purposes. The only question to me is whether or not the connector is robust and efficient. If you are going to use Apple products, you have to accept the proprietary nature of them and be content.
      terry flores
    • It's illegal

      Come on. The EU directive only says your phone has to be able to charge form US, no proprietary voltages/connectors. The iPhone happens to use USB for .. surprise, charging.

      By the way, I purchased an iPhone 4S earlier this year, in Europe, from an Apple partner carrier and it didn't have this new adapter.

      Perhaps the purpose of the adapter is different? Perhaps it just serves to resolve the issue for those wanting to use 'arbitrary length USB cable'? Or, just to be more compact and harder to damage.

      If Apple are going to change the connector, they should use Thunderbolt, not microUSB!!! That, would be real change. USB on the iPhone we already have, thanks.
      danbi
    • Radio Count

      I thought 2g 3g and 4g all operate off the same Radio.... they just operate at different frequencies....
      andyandromeda
      • Kind of...

        2G and 3G (and the iPhone's so-called "4G") do operate off the same radio, in some cases. All iPhones have a 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only) radio and a Bluetooth 4.0 radio.

        Additionally, they have:
        UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
        GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

        or

        CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)4
        Kevin Wells
  • Steve wouldn't have done this.

    The accessory market is huge for the apple stuff, and by default it works with nothing else just because of that fabulous connector. I dont have a single micro usb cable that does not get jacked up somehow in the first month of use.

    You always have to put your phone just right or your device just right so the cable works. It's never as snug. Steve wouldnt allow this.

    I always had a feeling that the zune partially failed because of the accessory market. Only if zune had the same connector and form factor as the ipod it would probably still be alive today.
    x21x
    • Bull

      The bottom line is that if you 'have to put your phone just right on your device so the cable works', you have a defective cable or defective device. Time to RoM it.
      Lerianis10
    • LOL

      I guess only apple made connectors work and the rest of the known world is living in poverty with poorly performing USB standard ports.

      It is mind boggling what some people will believe.
      Emacho
  • So much for "doubling down on secrecy."

    I'd be very curious to know about the sources of their "confirmations." I think Tim Cook might as well.
    matthew_maurice
  • Oh, sad.

    I really enjoyed listening to fanboys explaining to me how it was better somehow. Oh well, if the new phone has a bigger screen I can just be entertained by them saying other manufacturers stole the idea for a bigger screen from apple.
    blarelli
    • Don't count me

      I guess I'm an Apple fanboy but I'll be happy if Apple goes to a standard micro-usb connector. That way I can have one connector for my iPhone, Nook, Camera, GPS and Windows Phone (Yes I'm a traitor).
      gribittmep
  • The connector...

    ...has never bothered me. In fact, outside of the blogosphere and tech enthusiasts I suspect it doesn't really bother anybody. My iPhone, iPod and iPad, purchased between 2007 and 2011 all have 30 pin dock connectors.

    Woohoo.

    I have had two GPS devices, with different sized USB chargers. My Sony video camera has its own charger connector (and annoyingly, considering it's a removable battery, can only be charged by plugging the whole camera in). My Panasonic Lumix camera has its own separate charger, and a very small USB which I haven't seen on any other device yet. My wife's Android phone has the mini USB port on the side.

    Do I think Apple are going to do this? Probably not - their accessory market is too important to them. I couldn't care less (that's the correct way to say that phrase by the way - "I could care less" makes exactly no sense in the context in which most people use it) whether or not I have devices with lots of different connectors.

    There are so many devices out there sold by Apple that use the dock connector that it is basically a standard in of itself. It may not have been ratified as such by any faceless standards committee or officially approved by the EU (and doesn't their ruling on mini-USB just seem to be a way at getting at Apple?) but it is used by literally millions of people worldwide.

    I don't see what the fuss is about, and most of the reasons you've given in your article are tenuous at best in the face of 'normal' consumer usage patterns.
    Ben_E
    • What?!

      "and doesn't their ruling on mini-USB just seem to be a way at getting at Apple?"

      No - not even a little bit!

      The idea for standardising mobile phone chargers at the micro USB spec was proposed in June 2009 - when apple wasn't a big market player.

      It was aimed at reducing waste and reducing the price to the consumer.

      The ultimate idea was that when you bought a phone - you wouldn't get a charger - you would just continue to use the one from you previous phone - because they would all be the same.

      It was far more targeting the sony erricssons and nokias and samsungs and motorolas - who all had similar but slightly different chargers!
      mcfaul@...
    • Caring less

      "I could care less" makes exactly no sense ..." It's not supposed to. It's a stale joke that I first heard used by drill-sergeants when I was in the Army, back in the 'Fifties. Sixty years later is WAY too late to try to kill it. BTW, how do you feel about "snuck" in place of "sneaked"? "Snuck" was once a joke, too.
      hwgray
  • Did they?

    "In October 2011 Apple began bundling European iPhones with an iPhone Micro USB Adapter to comply with the new law."

    I bought my iPhone THIS YEAR from the Apple Store in London - the adapter was NOT bundled, it was available separately in store as a paid for option.
    mcfaul@...
  • And one other annoyance..

    Now I can be forced to go and buy all NEW accessories... I was really ticked off at the fact that three iPhones (mine, wife's, daughter's) and a couple of iPods could all use the same cables (wire to my car stereo that allowed the stereo to control the iPod) and accessories (docks, picture frames, etc). What a hassle it was to know that anything I wanted, I could depend on there being an Apple-compatible solution.

    Yes, that's sarcasm. One of the reasons I went with Apple was because everything was available for their device.
    djlong
    • Missing something

      Now that the connectors are universal, you will have those things being able to be used on all devices.
      Lerianis10
      • What You're Missing Is

        You obviously have no iDevices. Most of the people I know have two or more (I have 5). I have no problems (now) with the 30 pin, it's quite robust. My problem is with the accessories I've purchased such as the dock/speaker on my desk, the DC chargers in my car (and my wife's and my boat and my snowmobile), my memory card reader and the dedicated harness I installed in my motorcycle. I still use all my old iDevices (except maybe the old iPod) and don't have to worry about charging no matter where I'm at.

        I hope this is just a false rumor as a new connector would require that I double the number of cables, docks and harnesses until the last old iDevice fails.
        Gr8Music
  • Oh come on Jason...

    [b]Its proprietary.[/b] And it's included with every iOS or iPod device. And it's a cable that works as a USB OR an A/C cord with the included adapter. Next.[b]

    Its expensive. [/b] one word: eBay. As for your theory that it does not last as long I call bullsh1t on that... I bought 2 extra USB to Apple cables, 2 car chargers, and 2 extra A/C adapters off of eBay for around 20 bucks WITH shipping when I bought my iPhone 3G about 3 weeks after it's introduction and all of them still work. Next.[b]

    The cables too short. [/b]This one I agree with in certain situations however I managed to make my daughter's old iPod cable - the one that was "mated" with a firewire cable and is 4' long - to use with my desktop. The cable that comes with the iPhones (as well as the ones I mentioned above) I use at work or on vacation with no issues over length... Next.[b]

    Its a crutch. [/b] I already shot this one down. Next.[b]

    The connector itself is enormous. [/b]This one I agree with but at the same time this connector is quite easy to plug in in the dark vs the micro USB connector.[b]

    It was antiquated in 2007. [/b] And IMHO the micro sucks out loud...[b]

    Its illegal.[/b] In EUROPE not in the US... and it's all to do about nothing.

    Having said all of that I could care less if the new iPhone uses a micro USB connection as I have enough of those as well that I use with my HTC Thunderbolt... I just wanted to stop the FUD that constituted a large part of this click bait article.
    NonFanboy
    • Spot on

      Yeah nothing against the micro USB, wish other manufacturers knew that there should only be 1 version of the micro USB though.

      Note in the diagram it is a Micro-A plug, there is a Micro-B plug as well.

      But yes the arguments against the dock connector don't stack up.

      Proprietary is a meaningless term when there are so many different manufacturers making them and I can pick one up in any supermarket and most other shops. Can't get a USB to micro-USB lead in most places though.
      richardw66