Before 2009, if you owned a cell phone, there was a pretty big chance that the charger you used for your phone didn’t look like the standard universal charger that we’re used to seeing today. If you switched from one manufacturer from another, you were likely to get a different type of charger each time. 2009 was the first year that the GSMA trade association announced that by 2012 most major handset manufacturers would be using the same charging port for their devices. The reasons for this were to make the life of the consumer easier and less confusing, cutting the amount of greenhouse gas emitted (due to the need to replace chargers so often with so many different chargers in circulation), and increase the charging speed of handsets by about 50 percent.
In general, the decision to make the universal change did make life easier. Almost anytime you switch phones at this point your phone will use the now standard micro USB for charging.
The one exception, however, has always been Apple. Even back in 2009 when the initial move to go universal with chargers, Apple was missing from every list detailing which manufacturers were pledging to help the cause. The main reason was that Apple’s then 30-pin dock connector had been used to charge Apple products since the third generation iPod was released in 2003.
When this initially came to light, I had never owned an Apple product. I scoffed at Apple’s arrogance for seemingly being too good to help the environment, but at the same time, I wasn’t thrilled that the chosen universal connector was micro USB. It was a win/lose situation in my opinion: I didn’t have to buy a new car charger and other accessories every time I wanted to switch manufacturers, but the micro USB connector was the one that had given me the most trouble. I felt justified in my feelings as I experienced many of the same issues over the next two years with every Android device I owned.
It wasn’t until 2011 when I purchased my Apple iPhone 4S (and first Apple product) that I would be a little more forgiving about Apple’s decision to stick with the 30-pin connector, because it was the most solid connector I had ever used. Also, despite Apple being the only company to use the 30-pin, there was a plethora of accessories for the iPhone that I had never known to exist previously. My new 30-pin world was pretty amazing, aside from the stockpile of micro USB accessories that I had accumulated and could no longer use as easily. (I did have an adapter, but it wasn’t as convenient.)
When I switched back to Android two years after my run with the iPhone, I was pleased that I was able to use my same accessories from a couple years before. Mostly I just had a travel car charger, a travel battery charger, and a docking station. Still, this was really all I needed. Although I purchased an extra set of each of these things for my iPhone, I felt that I was set at this point. I had a set of each, so no matter what I was using I was pretty set.
Except for the fact that I actually wouldn’t be able to, because I had completely forgotten that Apple switched to the Lightning charger with the release of the iPhone 5. When I started using my current device, the iPhone 5s, I excitedly brought out my old dock before realizing that my 30-pin connector dock would not be able to support my iPhone 5s’s Lightning charger port. Whoops.
I’m annoyed because I spent a considerable amount of money on accessories for the 30-pin connector on the 4S, not realizing that the very same connector would be obsolete the following year. I could only imagine how inconvenienced people who had been using Apple products for the past 9 years had felt at that point, as I’m sure many of them probably accumulated a great many more accessories than I did. Here I had this weird, foreign Lightning charger, which I had no accessories for again.
But much like the 30-pin connector, I found that I was impressed with how fast the Lightning charger worked in comparison. I loved the speed, I hated the inconvenience. Damn you, Apple.
I realized that all I really had to get is an adapter, but a lot of the time the adapter takes away the convenience of the product in general - especially docking stations. Specifically, my docking station. I have yet to come across a legit adapter that fits my specific accessory. And I had a really nice docking station, too.
However, I also realize now that I got my first Apple product 8 years after Apple introduced the charging port, so it almost makes sense that Apple needed to upgrade their connector sooner or later. Unfortunately, I just didn’t see it coming.
At the end of the day, I do prefer the Lightning charger over both the 30-pin and micro USB connectors. I just wish that I had gotten more use out of my Apple accessories than I did, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
Readers (specifically users of Apple products), what has your experience been when it comes to transitioning between the 30-pin connector and Lightning charger, if you have? Did you end up adapting your old 30-pin accessories to work with your Lightning connector device, or did you end up purchasing an entirely new set of accessories to work with Lightning? Let us know in the comments below!