Here’s how accessories will use your iPhone’s Lightning port

“We previously told you that Apple will be licensing its female Lightning port to third-party accessories, following an announcement to Made for iPhone licensees late last year,” Jordan Kahn reports for 9to5Mac. “Since then, the company has released specs for the Lightning port that details exactly what Apple hopes to achieve by opening it up to third-parties, including how it could improve accessories.”

“Many different accessories will use the female Lightning port,” Kahn reports. “The port can directly charge, as well as offer passthrough charging and syncing.”

“Another benefit of Lightning, according to Apple, is the ability to charge accessories faster than with USB,” Kahn reports. “Apple notes that using the same Lightning cable plugged and power adapter that came with your iPhone (or a MFi-certified USB power adapter) allows charging of internal batteries at higher rates than with USB options, including the micro-USB port currently used for charging on most accessories.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Attribution: Engadget. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Any technical experts in the house?

    Can you tell us what Lightning does that Micro USB cannot?

    Can you tell us why a company would spend significant time making expensive Apple lightning products when they could just make USB accessories and let Apple users plug in via the Apple-supplied USB-to-Lightning cable that comes in the box with every new iOS gadget?

    Could it work in Apple’s favor to cooperate with industry connector standards rather than continuing to back proprietary designs that are SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than the more common standards?

    1. HD video. Read the article, and comments they have some good information. I believe you are also talking about Thunderbolt. That is an industry standard created by Intel (with Apple’s help). Many people compare it to USB 3.0 but failed to mention that USB 3.0 can’t daisy chain or do bidirectional. Thunderbolt is for professional computers, USB is for consumer.

      1. USB-C will do bidirectional, HD video, etc, and it can be flip-flopped. Apple will likely replace USB2 and USB3 ports with USB-C ports in all its Macs. In the near future, iPhone owners may again have to buy overpriced adapters to work with new Macs.

        Regarding “pro” machines: theoretically Thunderbolt should be superior to USB, but just as Apple/Intel mismanaged Firewire, they are losing their advantage to USB again. People need more than just speed. Too expensive licensing, too much overhead for separate chip controllers, and too little effort partnering with 3rd party manufacturers all means that Thunderbolt drive & display options are fewer and significantly more expensive than others. Moreover, pros are NOT intimidated by a multitude of connectors. They LOVE having separate ports for digital video (DVI, displayport, etc), digital audio (Toslink, S/PDIF), analog audio (RCA, balanced, or minijack), high speed data, low speed data, etc.

        Very few people enjoy daisy-chaining or investing in separate hubs to multiply the ports that Apple should offer in BOTH their consumer and pro computers.

        if Apple is wise, it will retain a very fast wire connection for iOS syncing. Lightning will stay for some time to come — at least until Micro USB-C comes along. I think Mike’s question about Apple’s connector strategy is a good one. Apple led the USB1 and USB2 implementation. Why isn’t it leading industry standard connection types today?

        1. To be fair, Thunderbolt has been operational and shipping for a couple of years. USB-C is a new spec. So those unique merits of Thunderbolt still stand until USB-C becomes reality.

          In addition, USB-C is limited to 10GBps. Thunderbolt 2 is already at 20 GBps and is extensible to much higher data rates. If USB-C becomes the de facto high bandwidth interface standard for computers, then this may be yet another case of industry leverage over function.

    2. “Rainer Brockerhoff’s Solipsism Gradient blog:
      People keep asking why Apple didn’t opt for the micro-USB connector. The answer is simple: that connector isn’t smart enough. It has only 5 pins: +5V, Ground, 2 digital data pins, and a sense pin, so most of the dock connector functions wouldn’t work – only charging and syncing would. Also, the pins are so small that no current plug/connector manufacturer allows the 2A needed for iPad charging.”

      1. I don’t understand. Does micro USB have fewer pins than USB2? Because as far as I can tell, Apple didn’t ever use 30 pins from its original dock connector, and it still relies on USB2 as the connector for its default charge/sync cable (5 pins). So what does Apple do with its extra 3 pins on the Lightning connector?

  2. Or, for a non-technical answer:

    Reversible. Simplifies and eliminates headaches from people forcing it in the wrong direction. As with the rumors of the new MBA with the USB 3.1 Type-C connector.

    Sometimes the answers are practical rather than technical. This is Apple, after all. 🙂

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