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Engineer hacks iPhone to give it the USB-C port of our dreams

Engineer Ken Pillonel has created what he is calling the world's first iPhone with USB-C port. (Image: Ken Pillonel via YouTube)
Engineer Ken Pillonel has created what he is calling the world's first iPhone with USB-C port. (Image: Ken Pillonel via YouTube)
An engineer has used his downtime to swap out the Lightning port on his iPhone with a USB-C port and documented the process. While the project is not for the faint of heart, it does demonstrate that the modification can be successfully accomplished.
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Apple’s Lightning port has long been the source of frustration for many users, especially in recent times where the port is found on all its MacBooks and almost all its iPads. For owners of MacBooks and iPads with USB-C ports, it isn’t much fun having to switch between chargers and cables when switching between the Lightning port-based iPhone to one of the other devices. It is this that has driven French engineer Ken Pillonel to make a short video titled ‘World’s First USB-C iPhone’, the first in a series documenting his Lightning to USB-C conversion.

Pillonel’s process is a relatively complicated one but he begins stepping viewers through his process via a blog and in a video dubbed ‘The USB-C iPhone Mod - Part 1’. Here he details how reverse engineers Apple’s C94 connector so to make a PCB with a female USB-C port. With the schematics of his project developed, the challenge for Pillonel was to shrink the components so they would fit into his iPhone X. As Pillonel demonstrates, he has been able to successfully charge the device as well as use his USB-C port to transfer data.

Apple has shown little interest in switching the Lightning port to a USB-C port on its iPhones. The reason for this is simple -- Apple makes a lot of money from its ‘Made for iPhone’ accessory program. Chief among ‘Made for iPhone’ products by third-parties are Lightning connector cables and other Lightning port connected devices. The EU is considering legislation that could force Apple to switch its iPhone ports to USB-C for reasons of universal compatibility and reduced e-waste. 

While some have suggested Apple could simply go portless in retaliation, the legislation has been worded in a way that wouldn’t allow this as an option. In response to the EU’s moves Apple told the BBC recently, ‘We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.” Pillonel has obviously tired of the inconvenience so much so that he has taken matters into his own hands and is apparently the only iPhone owner in the world who doesn’t need to switch chargers between his various Apple products.

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Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - Senior Tech Writer - 1353 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I have been writing about consumer technology over the past ten years, previously with the former MacNN and Electronista, and now Notebookcheck since 2017. My first computer was an Apple ][c and this sparked a passion for Apple, but also technology in general. In the past decade, I’ve become increasingly platform agnostic and love to get my hands on and explore as much technology as I can get my hand on. Whether it is Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Nintendo, Xbox, or PlayStation, each has plenty to offer and has given me great joy exploring them all. I was drawn to writing about tech because I love learning about the latest devices and also sharing whatever insights my experience can bring to the site and its readership.
contact me via: @t3mporarybl1p
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 10 > Engineer hacks iPhone to give it the USB-C port of our dreams
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2021-10-12 (Update: 2021-10-12)