KGI reports Apple iPhone 8 will not switch to USB-C, internal upgrades will support fast charging over Lightning

KGI is refuting claims made in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 would replace Lightning with a USB-C port.

KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo today writes that this is not the case, all three new 2017 iPhones (two modest updates to existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and one radically-redesigned OLED bezel-less device) will retain the proprietary Lightning port. Apple will add fast charging capabilities with internal component changes …

Apparently, Apple will change the underlying power management technologies with the new iPhone to add ‘fast charging’ features. This brings some of the power benefits of a USB-C port, ‘Type C Power Delivery’, without changing the physical connector.

To enable faster charging, Apple will source new components from Texas Instruments and Cypress. The iPhone 8’s 2-cell L shaped battery design, previously reported here, will also enable the device to charge more quickly. It is not clear if these advancements also tie in to rumors about wireless charging coming to the iPhone 8.

Kuo said that whilst the USB-C port would enable faster data rates than the maximum speed of USB 3 Lightning, this is not sufficient reason to motivate Apple to change connectors, calling it a ‘niche application’ of the iPhone. KGI’s report does not comment on how USB-C synergizes with the iPad lineup where faster data transfer has more benefits for computer tasks. (New iPads are expected soon.)

KGI says Apple has two primary reasons to keep Lightning around; sustain MFi royalties from the iOS accessories ecosystem, and form factor considerations. A USB-C port is larger than a Lightning port — and Apple is squeezing as much as it can into the new phone’s body.

Apple introduced the Lightning port in 2012, with the iPhone 5. Its predecessor, the 30-pin dock connector, was present on Apple devices for more than a decade. Therefore, the Wall Street Journal’s claims that the port would go away in favor of Lightning was somewhat surprising.

It may be true that Apple includes a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box with the new iPhone models, rather than the typical rectangular USB-A cable. Nevertheless, KGI firmly believes that the Lightning port is here to stay for sometime yet. On the flip side, adopting USB-C would bring the iOS devices inline with Apple’s latest MacBooks that only offers USB-C ports.

Apple is expected to launch three new iPhones in the fall. One is purported to be a major radical redesign, featuring a 5.8 inch OLED display, larger battery, and bezel-less design, plus two iterative updates that retain the same chassis as the current iPhone 7 series. The high-end OLED iPhone has been rumored to cost in excess of $1000 — and come in 64 GB and 256 GB configurations.

The major new phone is being colloquially referred to as the iPhone 8 whereas the modest upgrades are being labelled as ‘iPhone 7s’ devices, although the final marketing names are unknown.

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