It is looking increasingly likely that the new iPhone, expected to launch later this year, will drop the old 30-pin Apple dock connector and adopt a smaller 19-pin socket.
The MobileFun site shows leaked line drawings of the iPhone 5 casing, which it says are confirmed as accurate. At the bottom of the phone is a noticeably smaller dock-connecting port. Although unconfirmed, it’s not a huge leap to assume this is a microUSB-sized connector.
TechCrunch reports that although the smaller port looks rather like the MacBook Thunderbolt port, its own sources claim that it’s not the same.
Since 2011, European Commission policy requires all mobile phones sold in Europe to use a Micro USB charging connector. Apple’s solution at the time was to issue an iPhone Micro USB adaptor.
So it makes perfect sense to actually build the widely used port into the next generation of iPhone – but will the king of the proprietary approach really “go standard”?.
It’s both a good and bad change depending on your situation. Micro USB is now widely used, so charging cables and kits are almost universally swappable between devices. It’s also smaller, meaning the phone itself can save a few millimetres or use the space for something else.
The downside would be for any peripherals that are made exclusively for the iPhone and, by default, the iPad and most iPods, which also use Apple’s proprietary 30-pin port. If you own any of these and upgrade your phone, it’s not yet clear whether a simple adaptor could be fashioned to make it work again.
Changing standards will also cause confusion among manufacturers of any dockable accessories, though in the future it could mean that new speaker docks, hi-fis and so on could feasibly dock to any Micro USB gadget, such as Android phones too, with remote control compatibility as well as audio-visual transfer functions.
It won’t be the first time Apple has introduced a change that makes some accessories incompatible. Although they use the same style of 30-pin connector, iPods dating back a few years do not have a digital audio output via this port, and therefore they don’t work with all ‘iPod-friendly’ hi-fis and speaker docks.
Will Apple go for a smaller proprietary socket or microUSB? Current-design microUSB ports use just five pins while the new iPhone one has nineteen. We know what our bet would be. Have your say in the comments.
Read more on the iPhone 5.