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How to navigate Apple’s move from Lightning to USB-C

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The iPhone 15 (technically, the 17th iteration of Apple’s iconic phone) arrived with a big change that’s sure to annoy many of us. However, we will eventually breathe a sigh of relief.

Let me unpack this. To comply with recent European regulations, the iPhone 15, unveiled on Tuesday, will abandon the Lightning connector which has allowed iPhones to be recharged for 11 years. In its place will be another oval-shaped connector: USB-C.

For the average tech user, change isn’t fun. All this means that when Apple customers buy their next iPhone, they will no longer be able to plug in all the Lightning accessories they’ve collected, such as charging cables, speaker docks, and headphones. They will have to replace them with new products that use USB-C connectors to plug into the new iPhones.

This transition feels a bit like déjà vu. In 2012, Apple removed the relatively bulky 30-pin connector from iPhones to switch to Lightning, a thinner, faster charging technology that made many speakers and chargers obsolete.

What’s different this time is that most of us already own a USB-C cable. Modern headphones, gaming consoles, and many laptops, including Apple’s MacBooks, have long adopted USB-C as their standard charging port. The iPhone was one of the holdouts.

Why is this happening now? Last year, the European Union announced a mandate requiring all smartphone manufacturers to adopt USB-C as a common charging connector by 2024. In theory, this will allow consumers to buy fewer cables. food, which regulators say could reduce environmental waste. . Thierry Breton, an EU commissioner involved in the legislation, said this month on LinkedIn: “A common charger is common sense. »

We are therefore moving towards an era of standardization in which a single type of charger would work with most of our electronic devices, which would be ideal. Many of us are familiar with the scenario where someone carries an iPhone cable but a family member or friend needs another one (probably a USB-C) to replenish their phone or computer. Apple. In theory, those days will be no more.

But as is always the case with any major technological change, it’s not as simple as it seems. New dangers lie ahead, including the possibility of destroying your phone with the wrong USB-C cable, according to phone repair experts. If you only carry one cable, it’s more important than ever to be judicious about what you buy.

“The damage to the charger is real,” said Jessa Jones, owner of iPad Rehab, a cell phone and tablet repair shop. “It’s very common and it’s something you need to watch out for.”

Here’s what you need to know:

The first step is to stop thinking of modern charging cables as stupid wires.

High-quality chargers are essentially electronic devices containing tiny circuit boards. On Apple’s official Lightning cable, there are two chips: one authenticates that the cable is made by Apple, while the other acts as a fuse that isolates damage to the charger. In the event of a power fluctuation, for example, only the charger would be destroyed and not the phone itself, Jones said.

The problem with USB-C cables is that even though they generally look the same, cheaper, low-quality cords don’t offer such protection for your device. They may have the right oval connector, but inside they lack the chips to protect your phone.

So if you need a USB-C cable, don’t use cheap wire, like the $5 ones you’ll see at a gas station kiosk. Invest in a durable cable from a reputable company. Brands like Anker, Belkin and Amazon Basics are well known for their high-quality power cables that cost between $9 and $30, according to John Bumstead, owner of RDKL Inc., a repair shop that refurbishes MacBooks. Buy cables from trusted retailers or directly from the brands themselves – and avoid buying used wires from sites like eBay.

Many USB-C cables lack chips to limit the current powering your phone. So if you plug it into a source that charges at a higher voltage than your phone accepts, you could electrocute your phone, Ms. Jones said.

The lesson here is to be careful what you plug your cord into. These USB ports integrated into the back seats of planes, the walls of hotel rooms or car consoles should be avoided because we do not know exactly what their charging rates are. It’s safest to only plug your USB-C cable into a high-quality charging brick that protects your phone. Wirecutter, our sister publication, recommends USB-C power banks from Anker, RAVPower, and Spigen that do a good job of quickly recharging your phone without damaging it.

For iPhone owners who aren’t planning to upgrade right away but need new chargers, the most cost-effective alternative to buying another Lightning cable is to go wireless . The EU mandate only applies to wires that plug directly into devices — not wireless charging devices that charge your phone through magnetic induction, like Apple’s puck-shaped MagSafe, which magnetizes at the back of your phone, or to branded wireless chargers and charging stands. like Mophie, Anker and Belkin. So these are good buys for the foreseeable future.

As long as you have a sturdy cable and a nice charging brick, you’ll probably be happy with this transition. The USB-C charging standard is faster at transferring data than Lightning, and there may even be some nice perks, like the ability to plug your phone directly into an external display to view photos.

Most importantly, when you’re traveling or commuting, you’ll no longer have to carry a jungle of wires in your bag, and if you leave your cable at home, chances are you’ll be near someone ‘one that carries the same.

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nytimes

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