Apple’s new Lightning connector: The good, the bad and the ugly

“Along with the iPhone 5 and its refreshed iPod line, Apple introduced something else this week: Its new 8-pin Lightning connector,” Bonnie Cha reports for AllThingsD.

“It’s all a bit confusing and frustrating for iOS device users who have invested a lot of money into compatible accessories,” Cha reports. “So why the change? Which accessories will work with the iPhone 5 and new iPods? If you’re planning on purchasing one of these devices, here are a few things you need to know about the Lightning connector.”

Cha reports, “At $29 a pop for the Lightning adapter and $39 for the Lightning-to-30-pin connector cable, the accessories are not cheap, and they also don’t support all functions–particularly iPod out and video out. The current adapters only support analog audio output, USB audio, syncing and charging. Lightning-to-VGA and Lightning-to-HDMI cables will be available later, but for now, you won’t be able to connect your iPhone or iPod to an external display or TV to view videos or photos using the adapters.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple’s Lightning to Dock Connector adapters won’t work with old speaker systems, clock radios, etc. [Update: Apple reportedly says analog audio out supported] – September 13, 2012


    1. The other problem is how much it would cost to get the appropriate adapters. I still think Apple should have included one basic adapter with each iPhone. I’m not against advancing technology and the decade-old dock connector is certainly an appropriate candidate for a refresh. But because of the size, power, and profitability of Apple, a lot of people who have recently bought accessories will feel ripped off by having to shell out $29 (or more in other countries) to continue using their purchased items.

      Adding an adapter to appease the masses would be a good PR move and the damage to Apple’s bottom line wouldn’t be more than a tenth of a percentage point.

      1. The adapter can not be really included with iPhones and iPods since those are pricy, not just piece of plastic: Lightning is not compatible with USB electrically and data-wise. So there is some electrical engineering inside the adapter, and controller, and some active and passive electrical elements.

        So while $29 still have Apple’s high margin included, the adapter itself certainly is not single-digit dollar worth thing.

        The complexity of this is also reason why Apple could not yet prepare Lightning-to-video and Lightning-to-HDMI adapters. There are a lot of electrical engineering in this, and Apple only promises such adapters in “coming months”. And those will not be cheap either.

        Old connector united USB, analog video, digital video (HDMI) signals in
        one 30-pin port, so Apple’s adapters for that were cheaper because inside they only did physical connection wires between corresponding pins of Apple’s port to either USB port pins, or analogue video pins, or HDMI pins. There was nothing to adapt, really.

        And now Apple has to do some real controller design, as well as DSP for analogue video signal. It is totally different thing.

        1. I’ll go out on a limb and say Apple already has these connectors designed (lightning to whatever). They won’t put them out at the same time because they don’t want the media to focus on their high cost and make people think is the iPhone 5 worth it.

      2. Only if you buy an iPhone 5. If $29 is too much for you, don’t spend $2500 on a two year iPhone 5 contract.

        I know it sounds stupid. It is stupid to pay $2500 and bitch about $29.

      3. In the old days when you bought a Mac Apple would throw in a huge number of cables, adapters, and even accessories like beautiful mics for the top of your monitor. Nice, but totally wasteful. I’ve thrown out banker’s boxes full of that stuff over the years.

      4. What percentage of iPhone 5 buyers need an adaptor? 25% (we may wildly disagree on this)? Is that enough to justify including a component with every iPhone 5? BTW, the cost of that would be at least partially passed on to either the consumer or the carrier. If the latter, you can be sure they would still get it from the consumer in some fashion.

        1. Correction: passed on to the consumer. If the iPhone 5’s price was increased to the carriers due to the adapter, you can bet your *ss that cost would be passed on to the consumer in some manner.

    2. It never, but that when something changes there is someone instantly ready to complain.

      Maybe what we should do is go back to 9″ B&W displays with SCSI HDs and 9 pin serial ports, in a world that had “14 VGA displays, MFN HDs and parallel ports.

      Maybe we should return to MacOS9 and PowerPC chips and near extinction.

      Maybe the complainers should just shut the f*ck up, and accept change as the cost of improved performance. $30, sheesh, as though that is going to break anybody.

      I but Apple products because all aspects of Apple developed products are BETTER than the competition. I do not buy competing products, even though they cost less initially. That initial savings is more than offset by cost of the Maalox I’d be taking, if I did buy them.

    3. Of course… If Android or MSFT did this iSheeps would be having a il day with it. This is not good. Period. Apple should of been more considerate given that consumers have been using their 30 pin connector. Lot’s of hard earned money has been spent and lots of questions about what will work with the adaptor.

      1. So Apple should never change its connector? When is it a good time to change? Should Apple give people 6 months notice? How about 12 months? 24?

        Technology changes. If you don’t like it, don’t upgrade. You can still buy the iPhone 4S, and for much less money now.

        Or you can buy a Lumina 920 (if you can find one). I’m sure Microsoft/Nokia won’t change the connectors on that, although they may discontinue the phone after 6 months on the market (i.e. Microsoft Kin).

    1. Nothing I would put my trust in (not damage anything or quit working) unless they are Apple authorized as compatible, and if they are “authorized” you can bet they won’t be any less costly than Apple’s adapters.

  1. Maybe it’s because I own little to no iPod or iPhone accessories but this just seems like the biggest non issue I’ve ever seen.
    People who’ve invested heavily in accessories are screwed because they need to buy a “not cheap” $29 adapter? That argument makes zero sense to me. You only need one adapter per phone. And if you’ve got a ton of accessories… then $29 should be a drop in the ocean.
    The more I read from All Things D the less impressed I am with their “reporting.”

    1. exactly. I guess people just need to bitch about something. I bought a lot of connectors years ago and can count on one hand the times I’ve used them. AppleTV pretty much made all of my video/audio connectors obsolete.

    2. Your take is only relevant if you carry the one adapter with you.

      If, like me you have a number of different charging places (I have 6, my wife another 2) and 2 or more different sound docking points, this adds up. Au$350 on adapters?

      Do I really want to have to remember to take an adapter with me to be able to charge / use the worlds best phone?

      One definitely should have been included and a family pack of 4 or 5 at a discount would be nice.

  2. Between my brother and I, we bought 3 iPhones, during the opening minutes.

    I feel responsible that my brother can’t use the phone in his car (via the iPod dock), until October, from the standpoint, I recommended the product and I din’t notice in the fever of the sale, that the adaptors are shipping late.

    This is really short sighted of Apple to wait this long. Seriously this adaptor should be available TODAY, not September 21, not October. It’s a piece of plastic.

    Now, if you look at thunderbolt in comparison, I suspect there is logic in the Lightning adapter and cable. I bet we won’t be seeing this on Amazon or eBay for $5 or $1. So this is a sucky prospect.

    The name: They got this wrong, It should be thunder clap and lighting bolt.

    1. Since the phones aren’t supposed to ship until September 21st at the earliest, what’s the big deal?

      I do agree the accessories should be available immediately and ship at the same time as the new iPhones, but a short wait will be forgotten as soon as people get their adaptors.

    1. Someone else mentioned that the ram chips used In the iPhone are already saturated using USB2 so USB3 is not needed just yet.

      Not sure if the specs for the ram used is available on the Internet.

  3. I currently keep an extra charging cable in my car, another at my office, and two more near chairs I sit in. I think I got all of them from monoprice for about 10 bucks. Now this will cost me $140! Yikes!

    1. Moof is right why would you buy a $29 adapter for your existing cables when you can buy new cables for $19? Or wait a while and get them for $9 at monoprice. No need for the adapter for charging.

  4. Simple solution just sell your accessories when you sell your phone. They haven’t stpped working and they still work fine with the device you bought them for. And they even work great with the millions of new iPhone 4 and 4S’s that Apple is going to sell.
    I don’t actually remember the part of the keynote where Apple announced they were going to go around an force users to upgrade at gunpoint.

  5. I suspect the real issue here is that, since the connection is digital, it will be easier for Apple to prevent third-party products being used. We’ll end up paying more, since we’ll be forced to use either Apple or Apple-licensed products (chargers, adapters, interfaces, etc)…

    1. bingo. not exactly in line with Steve Job’s philosophy of providing the best customer experience.

      People don’t mind progress. It’s planned obsolescence implemented solely to separate you from the most amount of money possible that really irks customers. Apple faithful should rightly be pissed at Apple for their awkward Lightning roll-out.

      1. That’s not true. Steve was in charge when many, many cables/ports/adapters were changed (dropped ADB for USB, FireWire, FireWire 800, ditching optical drive, etc. etc.).

        Apple has always been about simplicity and shrinking the number of cables you need (just look at Thunderbolt and notice the new i-line adapters are called Lightning). Lightning adapters save space inside the iPhone, which lets Apple shrink the size/thickness of the iPhone and/or enlarge the battery.

        If the Dock connector was the ultimate connection device, Apple wouldn’t change it. But Apple found a better (at least to Apple) way to handle connections, and so it changed the hardware.

        Guess what? Lightning will change to something else in 5-7 years again, too.

    2. personally i do not mind that un licensed 3rd party acc makers things wont work. this creates a quality standard that is uniform and not all over the board like now where any joe blow can make an accessory and illegaly slap a made for iPhone logo on the box. i am an apple faithful and i am glad about lightning. the old 30pin crap was old and constantly broke. if this new connector is proven more durable it will save me more money in the long run. quite simply those complaining about this new connector are so stuck in the past that they probably still miss the floppy and the now dead to most dvd drive. digital is here i embrace it and you should as well

      1. The 30-pin accessory that I use more than any other is my car. I have a Kia that uses the iPod-out feature for it’s iPhone integration.

        Bluetooth doesn’t enable on-screen playlists, or list by albums, or album art on my in-dash screen. Those functions only work with the wired connector, and they won’t work with the new iPhone 5. All Bluetooth can do for music integration is to play your songs in one long playlist in alphabetical order.

        By the way, can you tell me what 30-pin accessory you had that was “always broke”? None of mine ever did.

            1. i am careful. its just that the accessories were made so cheaply even though they had the made for iPhone banner on them. this is why i will like lightning if it will stop any joe boo from making a junk cash scam accessory for the iPhone 5

            2. Lightning won’t change the quality of accessories if the stuff you bought previously had the Made for iPhone banner on them. I hope you are going to try another manufacturer this time around?

  6. All this just to make the phone thinner? And the adapters are not even ready? And when they become available they still won’t be ready….meaning they will provide less functionality than the old ones? That’s a downgrade, right? And all just to be thinner??? Really? Why? Apple Fan here, I just don’t get this move at all.

    1. 8 pins instead of 30? Gotta be more reliable – fewer connections should mean fewer chances for failure.

      It’s also reversible-connects in either orientation. Apple claims it’s more durable as well.

      And smaller is better – at least for this sort of connector…

    2. Larger battery, TS. LTE chips and a larger screen need more power, so the iPhone needs more battery, so something must be removed or made smaller. Thus, the Lightning connector.

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