Comparison of Lightning and USB-C - which is better?

Apple is slowly but surely switching its mobile devices from Lightning connections to USB-C. This means that chargers and connection cables from other manufacturers can be used, USB OTG functions can be used and other advantages can be taken advantage of. But there are also disadvantages when changing the connections on the iPhone and iPad. In the following I have put together a small comparison of Lightning and USB-C, which should reveal advantages and disadvantages. Do not take the whole thing as a collection of facts, but rather consider some of the points as a subjective opinion - feel free to leave your views as a comment;)

Comparison of Lightning and USB-C - where do the advantages or disadvantages predominate for you? Photo: Sir Apfelot

Comparison of Lightning and USB-C - where do the advantages or disadvantages predominate for you? Photo: Sir Apfelot

Apple Lightning interface - what is it all about?

Above all Android users and other people who have little connection to Apple ask themselves this. Why didn't Apple switch from its 30-pin connector to micro-USB and then directly to USB-C, instead it has its own proprietary one Connection and plug created? Well, Apple wanted a comprehensive range of functions that was not feasible with the standards of 2012 - when the connection with iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPod Touch 5, etc. was introduced. 

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So a separate connection had to be found. Compared to its predecessor, Lightning only uses 8 point-symmetrical contacts and is space-saving. A chip in the plug identifies the connected device so that the iPhone, iPad or iPod use the correct settings and signals directly. In addition, the connection specially created by Apple should ensure the quality of accessories such as cables, since replicas and counterfeits from third-party manufacturers can be recognized via an authentication chip.

The Lightning connector is robust, simple and has advantages. Photo: Sir Apfelot

The Lightning connector is robust, simple and has advantages. Photo: Sir Apfelot

Last but not least, the Lightning connector is considered self-cleaning because dust and dirt are wiped off when it is plugged into the device. Since there is no central latch in the socket on the device, less dirt collects in it. Cleaning is also made easier. Apple has recognized the disadvantages of the standards for connections to mobile devices that prevailed before and in 2012 and wanted to do something about it.

USB-C, the all-rounder - the new solution for Apple?

With the move to Thunderbolt 3 with a USB-C design for ports on MacBook models, Apple has shown its commitment to implementing the port type. Next came iPad Pro models, which can now be used with peripherals and connected to cameras, for example. USB-C can also be inserted rotated 180 °, as the contacts are the same on both sides of the connector. 

In addition, high data rates, the use of different devices and functions at the same time, charging batteries with up to 100 W and other useful features must be considered. In the end, it's a step further, and technically the ideal successor to Lightning. Nevertheless, the same mechanical disadvantages as mentioned above are found in the comparison: a more susceptible, dirt-prone plug and a dust-prone socket.

The USB-C connection has a few mechanical disadvantages, but it has technical advantages! Photo: Sir Apfelot

The USB-C connection has a few mechanical disadvantages, but it has technical advantages! Photo: Sir Apfelot

In addition, a USB-C port does not have to mean Thunderbolt 3 or at least USB 3.2. The connection form is only an indication of the possible use, but no guarantee for the most modern features. A simple USB 2 connection with USB-C socket is therefore just as conceivable as a Thunderbolt 3 connection with power supply, video transmission and peripheral use at the same time ...

Advantages and disadvantages of Lightning and USB-C

lightning USB-C
Benefits
  • Is used in the same form on most of Apple's mobile devices
  • Space-saving, "self-cleaning" plug
  • 180 ° rotatable connector
  • Robust construction
  • Industry standard used by many manufacturers
  • Device batteries can be charged with up to 100 W.
  • 180 ° rotatable connector
  • Data transfer up to 20 Gbit / s, video output up to 8K, usable as Thunderbolt 3, etc.
Disadvantages
  • Can only be used with Apple devices equipped with a Lightning socket
  • Mostly outdated data rate
  • Older charging cables / chargers do not offer a quick charge function
  • Plug / socket do not provide any information about features and possible uses
  • Can bend more easily than Lightning
  • USB-C plugs also get dirty more easily

Counselor: Difference between USB-C, USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3

Conclusion on the comparison of Lightning and USB-C

In the end, it can perhaps be said: If you handle your USB-C accessories and your mobile device carefully, you won't have any major disadvantages. Because you can prevent soiling and bending the connector. On the other hand, it is currently still the case that plugs and sockets do not look at which technological standards can be supported and used. 

This is again different with Lightning, but it brings a technology that needs to be overhauled in some areas. In the end, Apple would have to create a new kind of Lightning, which would annoy industry, politics and customers. USB-C for iPhone, iPad, MacBook and Co. are in and of themselves the better solution. Or? Feel free to write your opinion as a comment on the USB-C and Lightning comparison!

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6 comments

  1. Burkard says:

    With the USB 3 connector interface I have accidentally bent several connectors! Bad material or other reasons shouldn't matter to me as a user - this has NEVER happened to me with the Lightning! In addition, with the whole Microsoft hype, with staying power as a small CD producer, I co-financed the developments of the former garage IT plumber Bill Gates! In 1994 I started to get into the "beautiful, perfect" acoustic world of recording with Microsoft Windows. Almost never did anything work properly, almost every day there was a mess! Until 2006 I was a Microsoft, or rather Bill Gates idiot, who co-financed its current billion-dollar empire! The first Mac - to be on the safe side, a MINI, ran from the first second with the Apple software, like a ONE "1" !!! The first take was an immediate success, back then it was recorded with a garage band - Until TODAY with Mac, NO PROBLEMs - every now and then I am allowed to sort out the windos of my colleagues, at least some of them managed to get a Mac and I have it haven't heard from them -

  2. dragon-fly says:

    "In addition, a USB-C connection does not have to mean Thunderbolt 3 or at least USB 3.2. The connection type is only an indication of the possible use, but no guarantee for the most modern features. A simple USB-2 connection with USB-C Socket is therefore just as conceivable as a Thunderbolt 3 connection with power supply, video transmission and peripheral use at the same time ... "

    Hi,

    I received an iPhone 11 Pro Max for Christmas and connected it to a USB-C port on the PC via USB-C to Lightning cable.

    But I only achieve data rates of almost 40 MB / s, i.e. USB 2.0 speed.

    The question is, can the Lightning port support USB 3 in general at all if it is improved?

    Or is that not possible because it is technically not possible?

    Why can the USB-C port do this? So why can it support USB 2.0, 3.0 or even Thunderbolt 3 without changing its appearance? That means that there may be more controllers inside or something, but the dimensions themselves remain the same, which is why they are downward compatible.

    But why doesn't it work via Lightning? Do you know something about it or a guess?

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello dragonfly!
      That's a lot of questions, with one simple answer: Lightning V2 won't exist. This means that each device with Lightning can only achieve data rates such as USB 2.0. Apple has not developed this interface any further and fortunately has gone the way of equipping newer devices with a USB C port. The iPad Pro with USB-C can certainly USB 3 speeds and I have high hopes that the iPhone 2020 will also be equipped with USB-C and a correspondingly fast transfer protocol. But old devices with Lightning will certainly never get any faster.

      • dragon-fly says:

        Hi,

        and how fast is it on the iPad Pro with USB-C? Have you already tried it?

        I did a little research on the internet and found this here.

        USB-C as port:
        USB 2.0 (up to 60 MByte / s)
        USB 3.1 Gen1 (up to 625 MByte / s)
        USB 3.1 Gen2 (up to 1250 MByte / s)
        USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (up to 2500 MByte / s)
        USB 4 (up to 5000 MByte / s)

        High hopes don't sound bad, but what's your forecast for iPhone 2020, so which USB version do you think will support?

        • sir appleot says:

          Hello dragonfly! I read on Cultofmac that the current iPad Pro is USB 3.1 gen 2. I expect this to come to the iPhone 2020 as well. I doubt whether Apple will switch to USB 4. Most of the time, such technology ends up in the Macs and then a little later in the mobile devices. But I like to be surprised, because the iPhone 2020 will definitely be another model that I will buy.

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