Should Apple retire the 30-pin dock connector for future iDevices?Taylor Martin - Member
Rumors of the upcoming iPhone are currently running amok. They will continue to swell, expectations will grow and concepts will saturate headlines until Tim Cook (or possibly Ashton Kutcher ... or a Steve Jobs hologram) takes the stage and unveils the next iteration to the iPhone family.
If the most recent "leaks" are to be believed, the next iPhone will actually undergo a slight redesign and feature a taller, 4-inch display. On Tuesday, 9to5 Mac managed to get their hands on what is believed to be a couple pictures of the housing for the new iPhone from repair firm iFixyouri. The picture is said to come from a reliable Chinese cell phone parts supplier. Following the initial leak, 9to5 Mac got their hands on some more shots, showing the housing in both black and white. And word from the Chinese parts supplier is that these parts have also been spotted in at least two different colors.
Yesterday, what is believed to be schematics of the new iPhone housing design lend a little more credence to the pictures of the housing and to the 4-inch display rumor.
Still, it's safe to take all these rumors and leaks with a large dose of salt. Nobody really knows anything about the upcoming iPhone, and nobody will until Tim Cook & Co. makes it official. And, as we learned the hard way last year, no matter the number of leaks, rumors or pictures of possible housings, nothing is certain until it's officially official.
However, there is one little tidbit of information in the pictures from Tuesday that is making waves. On the bottom edge of the frame, the typical 30-pin dock connector is missing. It's impossible to miss if you know what the bottom of every other iPhone model looks like; instead of the roughly 1-inch wide slot where you would normally dock your iPhone or plug in the provided cable to charge, there is a slot that more closely resembles a micro USB port – though I'm fairly certain that's not what it will be.
The 30-pin dock connector port has been featured in every iDevice since 2003, starting with the third-generation iPod. And despite every other cell phone manufacturer having switched to the micro USB standard for charging and data transfer, Apple has continued to use the 30-pin dock connector on the ever-popular iPhone. Not only is it a nuisance for people who use an array of devices and have to carry a separate cable just to charge their iDevice, but it's a waste of space. As Matt Burns of TechCrunch says,
"Smaller, more compatible interconnects are more than capable of providing the power and a data connection. A MicroUSB-equipped iPhone might make Steve Jobs roll in his grave, but it would also make millions of users rejoice in the name of a universal connection."
Switching from the 30-pin connector to something a bit smaller could streamline the design and, as our own Alex Wagner notes, allow for more room on the bottom edge for an improved speaker and/or microphone.
However, the big debate isn't whether Apple will change the port – we're almost positive they will in due time. The 30-pin connector is unnecessarily large and has run its course. It is now rather dated. Not to mention, there is a job posting Apple's site for a Connector Design Engineer, who "will be responsible for managing multiple connector designs and developments in support of the iPod product lines."
The real question is: should they rid the 30-pin connector for something smaller, possibly universal?
That change might come at the risk of making millions of consumers mad, though. All of those iHomes, Bose speaker docks and other relatively expensive iPhone, iPod and iPad accessories would be rendered useless for compatibility with future iDevices. I, for one, would be slightly disappointed that it wouldn't work with the pre-routed cable in my Powerbag Deluxe. And, unfortunately, I wouldn't expect Apple to choose a market standard, such as micro USB. It's far more likely that they would instead create yet another proprietary connector. Some believe (and hope) it might turn out like the MagSafe connector used on MacBooks.
Regardless, it's definitely time to retire the 30-pin connector dock.
I would love nothing more than for the next iPhone to feature a micro USB port. I would also love for it to have a microSD card slot, a 4.8-inch display, Nokia PureView optics and a chassis made of Adamantium (think Wolverine's claws or Captain America's shield). But all of those things are just as likely as Apple agreeing to a worldwide standard.
I'd still be happy with MagSafe on an iPhone and iPad.
What say you, folks? Is it time Apple retires the 30-pin dock connector? Or should they keep around for a while longer? Will you be upset if the next iPhone comes with a different connection port and won't work with some of the accessories you currently have and use?