When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works

Home / Features / USB-C for iPhone 15 was nerfed by Apple – but does that matter?

USB-C for iPhone 15 was nerfed by Apple – but does that matter?

Has Apple scrimped on USB-C across its new line?

USB-C for iPhone 15

In tech’s least surprising reveal of 2023, Apple announced USB-C for iPhone 15. The world did not end. A miffed Thor did not blast Cupertino with lightning for forsaking Lightning. Apple didn’t even try to infer it had invented this ‘new’ smartphone technology during a quiet Thursday afternoon.

Instead, an Apple exec explained USB-C had “now become a universally accepted standard”. Without mentioning ‘now’ meant ‘several years ago’. And that the EU will soon mandate USB-C for most portable tech. They then, without irony, beamed that now the same cable can charge your Mac, iPad and iPhone. Like folks have been saying for years would be a Very Good Thing.

Still, at least now everyone’s happy, right?

USB-C or not USB-C, that is the question

Charge your AirPods from your iPhone… if you’ve the new AirPods case. Which requires buying new AirPods.

No. This is the tech and gadgets sphere. No-one’s ever been happy, not even when someone first realised you could flip a calculator upside down, type in certain digits, and end up with a rude word. No sooner had Apple made dreams come true (at least for fans of USB-C) than the griping began. But did the grumps have a point that Apple nerfed USB-C? And does that matter?

Nerf the first was long known – the now confirmed claim the vanilla iPhone 15 would be stuck with USB 2 speeds. So a phone that starts at £799 has slower data transfer (480Mbps) and charging than a host of comparable Android blowers. And… most people won’t care. An iPhone 15 with a 20W charger gets to 50% full in 30 minutes, and no-one’s using them to film Hollywood blockbusters.

That’s the preserve of the iPhone 15 Pro. Nerf the second rocks up there, with Apple’s flagship getting USB 3 speeds – but not USB 4. Apple presumably reasoned 10Gbps would finally shut people up, and only about eleven people worldwide could make use of the even speedier Thunderbolt in a current phone. Nonetheless, some folks cheered the new iPhone Pro’s ability to pipe 4K60 footage to external drives while looking glumly at their Thunderbolt cables.

USB-Ceen it all before

USB-C at both ends! Whatever with they think of next?

Speaking of, nerf the third was the cable. There isn’t a high-speed one in the box. You get a USB 2 cable for your USB 3-capable phone, because USB 3 cables are expensive and Tim Cook needs a new castle. I’ve more sympathy for this gripe, because, as I recently wrote, USB-C cables are a nightmare. Having a reliably speedy one in the box would be a boon.

Finally, nerf the fourth is a stretch, but it’s Apple’s ongoing stubbornness regarding not allowing iPhone to be the one device to rule them all, even though it now (sort of) has one port to rule them all. So although you can use your swanky new iPhone/port/cable combo to connect to a 4K display, that’s likely for mirroring. We can expect an iOS Samsung DeX equivalent – where you plug your phone into a screen and it becomes a full-fat computer – ooh, shortly after the heat death of the universe.

USB-C the light

4K60 being pumped live to an external drive. Try doing that over Lightning.

So, yes, Apple nerfed USB-C for iPhone 15. And, no, it doesn’t matter. Most folks will be more concerned about the accessories no longer being compatible, or when a loved one wrecks a USB-C port by shoving a Lightning cable into it with all their might.

Me? I’m going to revel in a future with fewer ports and cables – while grumbling about a present where loads of the things remain necessary. And I’m glad that although the USB-C we got on the iPhone 15 line isn’t perfect, it still beats a portless iPhone that would have resulted in inefficient charging, latency for connected accessories and, at the ‘pro’ end, much slower file transfers.

Chances are Tim Cook then wouldn’t have got away with calling Apple’s flagship blower the “most pro iPhone we’ve ever created”, without being hunted down by angry cinematographers and pelted with clapperboards until he saw the error of his ways.

• Now read: iPhone 15 models compared: vs Plus vs Pro vs Pro Max

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

Enable referrer and click cookie to search for eefc48a8bf715c1b ad9bf81e74a9d264 [] 2.7.22