Apple knows dropping the iPhone Lightning port would create 'unprecedented amount of electronic waste'

It seems likely that Apple is preparing to dump the Lightning port from future iPhones. But what happens to those billions of accessories?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple is on a permanent crusade against unnecessary ports, and it seems that next on the list is the iPhone's Lightning port.

In many ways, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to drop the Lightning port from the iPhone. To begin with, it's one extra component that has to be fitted. It takes up space in the iPhone, and it's a hole that allows water and other random schmoo to enter the iPhone.

It's also one less part to wear out.

But those are all things that benefit Apple. What about you, as the person who paid big bucks for your iPhone?

What's life after the Lightning port like?

Also: Hail to the MagSafe: A deep dive into Apple's new wireless charging connector

Well, this means that everything you own that plugs into that Lightning port will be scrap. Cables, chargers, memory sticks, FLIR IR cameras, docks, drone controllers.


I can't imagine how many Lightning accessories are out there in the wild. Over the years I've handled many hundreds, and I have dozens on my desk and the shelves around me right now.

Getting rid of the Lightning port would, overnight, create a massive amount of e-waste.

And Apple knows this.

How do we know that Apple knows this?

Because this time last year it used this exact reason as a defense against pressure from the European Commission to switch to USB-C. Apple claimed that switching from Lightning to USB-C would create an "unprecedented amount of electronic waste," and disrupt "hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers."

Well, so would dropping the Lightning port.

It would create a lot of waste.

So, what's changed in a year?

Apple might make some wireless dongle available that acts as a bridge, but who knows.

And that's not likely to be cheap.

Has your iPhone or iPad stopped charging? Check this first!

The flipside of this is that since iPhones have a long life, Apple might argue that these accessories aren't going to end up being obsolete overnight. However, in my experience, while iPhones have a long lifespan, I don't see the same being true for accessories.

Apple might try to claim that the switch that it is making offsets any waste. Not sure if I'd buy that, to be honest.

Also, let's factor in the fact that wireless charging is massively wasteful in terms of electricity. Horribly so.

And wireless charging can never be as efficient as a wire.

I've also heard concerns from people about not being able to put iPhones into recovery mode without a Lightning port, and that would mean taking a trip to the Apple Store. That's indeed another concern. The flip side is that this would make the iPhone much more resistant to jailbreaking or the data being accessed without the user's consent.

What are your thoughts on Apple dropping the Lightning port? 

Editorial standards