The iPhone gets USB-C thanks to a creative robotics engineer

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The iPhone has been modified to use a USB-C connection instead of Lightning, in a project that hints at what can be expected from a voice port change.

Apple is slowly transitioning its products to USB-C connectivity, and the iPad mini is the latest to make the transition. Although the iPhone hasn’t jumped yet, the YouTube video shows that one enterprising owner is already using USB-C with his smartphone.

In the YouTube short headline “The World’s First USB-C iPhone,” Ken Pillonel claims to have installed the component in the iPhone X, replacing Lightning in the process. The video says the iPhone receives power via a connection, as well as being able to control data transfer via a USB-C cable.

In a description of the video, Pillonel says he reverse engineered Apple’s C94 connector, to make a PCB with a female USB-C port. Once the schematics were set up, it became a challenge to cut them down and install them on the iPhone.

Pillonel has spent several months on its creation, and a blog post since May shows reflections on the replacement and the challenges of replacing the Lightning port itself. The video at the time shows a DIY prototype that worked and set up upcoming works to be small enough to work in an iPhone case.

An update for the end of September advised that he had designed and ordered a flexible PCB, a key component for enabling port switching. He adds that a future video is being made that explains how the board was made and imprinted in the iPhone itself.

While the project offers hope to those who want Apple to leave Lighting behind, it’s not an endeavor that regular iPhone owners can expect for themselves. Pillonel has a background in electronics, and has a master’s degree in robotics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL, meaning he possesses the skills and knowledge for the feat.

Under Apple’s Terms and Conditions for Repairs, unauthorized changes could be considered an “Out of Warranty” iPhone when it needs repair if it prevents Apple from resolving the reported device issue. Such add-ons could incur additional costs or prevent Apple from making any repairs at all.

In September, the European Commission proposed a law that would make USB-C the standard port for charging all mobile devices. If adopted, Apple would have two years to add a link to the iPhone.

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Naveen Kumar

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