The high price of connecting with an Apple iPhone 5

The high price of connecting with an Apple iPhone 5

Summary: Even some of Apple's biggest fans think that the iPhone 5's new Lightning connection comes at too high a price.

The iPhone 5 is pretty, but the price of its Lighting adapter is ugly as sin.

While I prefer Android smartphones and tablets, I also like my iPod Touch and iPads. Like many iFans, I also own a variety of devices that work with them: a car FM radio adapter, a clock radio, and an attachment for my stereo system. I'd think about buying an Apple iPhone 5 except not a single one of those devices can work with the iPhone's new Lightning interface.

Don't take my word for it. David Pogue of the New York Times, the biggest Apple fan this side of Daring Fireball's John Gruber, wrote: the “decade-old iPhone/iPad/iPod charging connector is everywhere: cars, clocks, speakers, docks, even medical devices. But the new iPhone won’t fit any of them.”

Still, that's not too bad, right? All you need to do is buy a 30-pin-to-Lighting adapter... for $29. Hmmm... I don't know about you, but I'm not happy with the idea of spending $87 just so I can use the iPhone 5 with my three old devices.

Don't think, by the way, that you'll see cheap 30-pin-to-Lightning adapters any time soon. Apple, of course, has a patent on the Lightning interface. So sure, there will be third-party adapters, but you can expect them to be in the same $29 price range. Apple could have adopted the cheap-as-dirt micro-USB interface instead, but then it couldn't have charged a fraction of the cost of a Lightning adapter. 

Even if you are willing to pay for these new adapters, as Pogue remarks, “not all accessories work with the Lightning, and not all the features of the old connector are available; for example, you can’t send the iPhone’s video out to a TV cable.” Great. Just great.

So what's the best answer if you want to get the most from your iPhone 5? Why, it's to buy new Lighting-compatible accessories, of course! You may think you're getting an iPhone 5 for $199-$399, but if you want to use it with other accessories your final tally may end up closing in on a grand.

I like the look of the new iPhone, but I don't like it that much.

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Topics: iPhone, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • This surprised you?

    This is Apple, where controlling the ecosystem is where the money is. It doesn't matter what it is, the marketing machine will spin it into a fantastic "new," technology that you have to have.

    In turn, Apple will get more and more royalties, more sales, etc. And you know what? People will pay for it.

    I too am not a fan of what's just happened with the new plug technology. But, it is what it is, and You nor I as "techies," can change it.
    • Agree, sort of.

      I do not own any iDevices and do not plan on getting any.

      If you decide you need or want Apple products, just pay their prices and be quiet.

      If you do not like Apple's products or way of doing business, like me, stay away.

      Surprisingly simple.
    • Irony

      It is ironic that both the writer of this article and the co-founder of Apple prefer Android phones over anything Apple has.
      • How is that Irony or even worth mentioning?

        Are you trying to imply that just because Woz prefers Android it's automatically better? It might be better for him but he is the only person he can speak for.
        • True, but

          iPhone just isn't as great as everyone has said it was. It's mapping is way behind Android and so is it's inability to rerender web pages to fit a resized screen. haven't grabbed iOS6 (will probably wait for 6.1), but the mapping is still behind Android in 2010.
          It does have an easier/less complex setting system, but there are a lot of things you simply can't do on an iPhone. Will get the new one? not sure. I get a new phone at work each year for free. Might go to the iPhone might not. It's worth adding, that iPhone is the only LTE enabled CDMA device that you can't talk and browse the web at the same time.

          If you have LTE in your area, and you talk a lot that could be a big disadvantage (though that doesn't apply to AT&T or any GSM carriers).
          • True.

            Well here in Australia people have been using the Apple maps to guide them, guess what the maps get you lost and people have to go back to old street directory. Seems deleting Google was not such a good idea.
            Also LTE is not licensed to Apple, so see how long 4g /LTE works and Apple have to turn it off or pay high royalities to Samsung, LG, Nokia & Qualcomm.
          • Was just released today

            And we are supposed to believe there are already wide spread issues of people getting lost due to using Apple's maps? Also, how is it that you have inside information to know every single patent license Apple has with anybody? I assume that you must have this inside information since you claim to know that Apple has no license to use LTE. I'm not stating I know that they do but neither of us are even remotely close to having that kind of info. I'm guessing you are basing the statement on Samsung announcement to file suit over LTE before then even knew it was going to have it let alone if it infringed on any of Samsung's IP.
          • Maps

            You do realize the map change occured with iOS 6, not 6.0.1??
          • Overall I agree

            Is the iPhone the greatest device for everyone, of course not. For those calling it great, it might be for them so we can't really dispute those claims. I have been using iOS6 for 3 months now and it's great. I tested the maps when I first installed and had zero issues. I have GPS in my vehicles so never really used the previous maps supplied by Google to compare. It is a bit unfair though in my opinion to expect the mapping on an iPhone to be as good as Android at any point up until now anyway. In the past one of the big Android talking points here and selling points at retailers was that it had turn by turn but the iPhone didn't. The issue with that was the deal with Google did not allow Apple to include turn by turn, so they had to make the move to their own mapping. To expect them to be as good as what Google has been working on for years right out of the gate is expecting too much no matter who it is. It will improve over time. Who knows if it will ever be as good as Google Maps but from I heard their App is already in the approval process so hopefully it will be in the App store soon. Of course I am sure they will include turn by turn in their own app since it's no longer a competitive advantage.
  • What is your point?

    The typical "subsidized" price of the iPhone in the US is about $2500 for two years. The unsubsidized price is $699.

    So you complain, that you will spend $699 or (way) more for the device but will not pay < $100 for accessories that might make it useful. The iPhone has never been cheap and those who buy it are well aware of this fact.

    You could also discover that you don't really need those old wired things.

    I have decided to myself to prefer wirelessly-connected peripherals -- this way I don't care what the connector is.
    • From Where That Cost Comes?

      If I buy an unsubsidized iPhone 5 for $649.99 (gsm LTE AT&T) I still have o go with the carrier data plan to use it. So over a two year period I am paying north of $3000 for the iPhone and use of it. Verizon is worse.

      Where does that come off being cheaper?
      Sorry, not seeing it.
      • If logic works,

        Operators will have cheaper plans for bring your own phones. Bringing your own phone does NOT mean that you cannot still sign a two-year contract.

        To the service provider, a bring-your-own-phone customer is more profitable. Subsidizing a phone means the telco plonking $699 (maybe less after discounts) upfront.

        All it needs is plans at the right prices to reflect the lack of subsidy. This is absent in most US markets.
        • Non-subsidized plans

          While it is absent in most US markets, it is the way things work in Europe.

          We also see the phenomena of carriers charging about the same monthly fees with or without contract. You get subsidised smartphone if you agree to an one or two year contract and that's it. In my country, the typical cost of an high-end smartphone and low-end carrier plan actually cost about as much as the smartphone alone, unsubsidised.

          Competition makes wonders.
    • If only Apple had included NFC.

      Then you could have the wireless connectivity much more readily available on new and upcoming peripherals.

      Not good to buy new peripherals with new connection, but who knows when Apple will decide to change to something else. Something like micro USB after all the headaches this new interface has caused.

      BTW, wasn't there some kind of consortium in Europe where all the cell phone makers agreed to use micro USB, and wasn't Apple a party to that?
      • PSU

        I believe the agreement is about not requiring new PSUs each time, so as long as one end of the new phone charger cable is USB (any type) then they are ok - you can use your old PSU with USB socket on it with new phone's cable (USB to Lightning or whatever)
      • Apple already has wireless for accessories

        Apple has Airplay which works with a large number of accessories in the ecosystem and for the purpose is much better than NFC which requires a very close proximity.

        While I am not thrilled with the connector change it had to happen at some point. Of course Apple is getting raked over the coals for this but from what I have read Samsung has had 10 connector changes over the last decade, why was that not an issue?
        • Because ...

          ... no one made or bought accessories for the Samsung?
  • Alas, those Lightning-USB/30-pin adapters have no other way than be pricy

    The issue here is that Lightning interface is purely digital, so it requires controller-converter and multiple other active and passive electronic components to translate Lightning signal to USB signal.

    You might want to find adapters that allow connect USB printers and MFPs to Ethernet. Those might cost like $50 or something, because it takes money to make the controller-converter inside.

    And Apple will take two more month to add DSP into upcoming Lightning-Analog video adapters, as well as to make another controller to make Lightning-HDMI adapter.

    Lightning itself is incredibly fast interface since it allows passing HDMI stream -- possibly even 1.4 or even upcoming 1.5 versions of the standard. Apple's VP Philip Schiller confirmed that Lightning is here for many years. So Lightning's maximum transfer speeds go to the levels of USB3 and beyond.

    (However, controller-converter to USB2 is cheaper to make now, and Phone's flash memory is not that super fast anyway, so Apple does not plan to release Lightning-USB3 adapter for now.)
    • And I suppose...

      You have a link to back your speed claims??? NOWHERE have I seen, even on Apple's site, where they claim Lightning is faster than anything.

      I know you are a devout iTard, but backing the Lightning decision shows you are truly an idiot as well since it offers nothing but a means to line Apple's pockets.
      • I also have no links, but...

        I have read that the lightning interface is faster than usb 3.0. However, I still think it's a bullhocky move to force people to spend a bunch of money on connectors. I think we all know that usb 3.0 is fast enough for anything people would do with a portable device any time in the near future.