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Apple didn’t build USB-C into the iPhone, so this guy did instead

Thw new iPhone 13 is here, and Apple fans are still stuck with the old Lightning port (at least for now). Apple’s stubbornness to switch has led to much digital ink being spilled, but an engineering student has chosen to actually do something about it. With a lot of determination, he replaced the iPhone X’s Lightning connector with a USB-C one — and it apparently works.

Well, it’s a bit more complicated to swap out ports than it would be on say a Fairphone, but it’s not impossible either. The student, Kenny Pillonel, says that he reverse-engineered Apple’s C94 connector to build a physical connector board (PCB) that supported USB-C. After that, he removed the Lightning connector from the iPhone X in question and replaced it with a USB-C female port. After that, the iPhone X was apparently able to be charged and transfer data with a USB-C port, just like any Android phone you can find on the market today.

“The motivations behind the project are simple. I just want an iPhone with USB Type-C on it. Why? Because everything I own has USB Type-C so it would be pretty neat to convert an iPhone, too. Have one charger and one cable to charge everything,” Pillonel explained in a blog post. As far as motivations go, that’s a pretty sensible and understandable one.

An iPhone with USB-C would also integrate quite well with the current Apple hardware ecosystem. Apple has shifted to USB-C on the iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and MacBooks. This makes the company’s reticence on USB-C for the iPhone somewhat frustrating, especially as Apple no longer ships iPhones with chargers.

Many have speculated that Apple’s control over the Lightning ecosystem has been a compelling motivation for the company. Apple itself points to waste and innovation as reasons not to switch away from the Lightning port it’s used for the better part of a decade.

Apple may be forced to add a USB-C port to the iPhone in the future anyway if the European Union has its way. Till that day arrives, this DIY project is our one peek into that future.

Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
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