Apple is planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, according to often-reliable Japanese website Mac Otakara.
While there are obvious disadvantages to having a phone with only one port (primarily not being able to charge and use headphones at the same time), there could also be upsides, notably: thinner devices, more room internally for other components or battery, and better weather/water sealing, among others.
The real controversy here would seem to be that the iPhone would only have a Lightning port. At best this could mean that we see a new Lightning connector that supports USB 3.1. At worst, we may just be stuck (in 2016!) with the same Lightning connector we’ve had since 2012 operating with circa Y2K USB 2.0 speeds.
Reading about this rumor elsewhere online, it is interesting to see that USB 3.1 Type C is barley mentioned in the conversation, since, as a single solution, it would seem to make the most sense.
It is exceptionally fast at 10 gigabits per second; as iPhone storage capacities rise and users shoot more high resolution photos and 4K video, the ability to transfer data at high speeds off the device will become invaluable. It is also capable of delivering up to 100W of power; could this be utilized for faster charging? And concerning the problem of no headphone port: USB 3.1 Type C is capable of supporting analog audio, which could make adapters for conventional 3.5mm headphones very easy (and cheap?) to implement.
Inside the Apple design language, adopting 3.1 Type C on iPhone would be a bold step in reinforcing the design ideologies introduced with the Early 2015 Macbook, which is probably the most notorious device thus far to implement the standard. It takes full advantage of the port’s capabilities to essentially synthesize contemporary smartphone design ideology (fanless, sealed chassis, only two ports – one for charging/data, the other for headphones) with a laptop form factor. Reducing the iPhone to one port would take the next giant leap, at least in terms of aesthetics.
It would also be an excellent gateway for more universal USB 3.1 support. Although accessories would more than likely still need to be “Made for iPhone,” the fact is USB 3.1 is an open standard, and the ensuing flood of USB 3.1 Type C would benefit both the iPhone and Android ecosystems, as well as give a solid boost to the implementation of 3.1 Type C in both PC and Mac hardware.
Admittedly this is all somewhat twisted logic; we don’t necessarily want the iPhone to only have one port, but its understandable why it would be advantageous on both design and engineering grounds. If one port is to be selected, however, it is probably best that it not be the Lightning connector, but instead the standard that Apple has already used as a statement piece: USB 3.1 Type C.
Edit: after posting I found out that apparently the iPad Pro does have a USB 3.0 Lightning port, it just so happens that there are no USB 3.0 Lightning cables. I still stand by the idea of a universal USB 3.1 Type C port on iOS devices, however, for all the aforementioned reasons.