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According to a recent rumor shared on Weibo, Apple’s new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro will feature a Lightning-like authenticator chip in their USB-C ports and accompanying charging cables. This could potentially limit their functionality with non-Apple-approved accessories. The rumor comes from a user who claims to be an integrated circuit expert with 25 years of experience.
Integrated circuit (IC) interfaces are semiconductor chips used to manage the sharing of information between devices. Since their introduction in 2012, first-party and MFi-certified Lightning ports and connectors contain an IC that confirms the authenticity of the parts involved in the connection. This authenticator chip allows Apple to encourage customers to buy genuine iPhone peripherals and receive a commission on MFi-certified accessories, while also tackling counterfeit and potentially dangerous accessories.
It seems that Apple has now developed a similar custom IC for the USB-C ports on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, and potentially its charging cables. This would be a first for ports of this kind offered by the company. It is unclear if this addition could have any major implications for the functionality of the new devices, but it is possible that Apple could limit features like fast charging and high-speed data transfer to Apple and MFi-certified cables.
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the USB-C port on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will remain limited to USB 2.0 speeds, the same as Lightning. Only the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models will get faster charging speeds. As a result, the only major difference between Lightning and USB-C on the standard iPhone 15 models could be the physical shape of the connector.
This report aligns with the split between the entry-level iPad and the iPad Pro. Both iPad models feature a USB-C port, but the 10th-generation iPad is limited to USB 2.0 speeds, while the iPad Pro offers fully-fledged Thunderbolt speeds.