There are a lot of things I love about the iPhone, from its seamless mix of hardware and software to its best-in-class cameras and well-stocked app store. But as much as I appreciate Apple’s phones – and I’ve been using one for almost a year of the product’s existence – there’s one component that absolutely shoots me up a tree.
Friends, I hate iPhone Lightning port like I hate hell.
If you think it’s misguided to get me into a bubbling rage over the idea of just a charging port, a brief history of the various iPhones I’ve used might help. Starting in reverse chronological order, my iPhone 11 Pro Max has been having trouble charging lately which required me to shake the lightning cable first and then position my phone so that something thing is pressing down on the cable to hold it in place just so I can get a charge.
Another iPhone bites the dust
I know what the problem is – there’s dirt or dust or some form of detritus in the iPhone 11 Pro Max charging port that’s preventing the Lightning cable from making a clean connection. I know this because I encountered the same problem with the last two iPhones I owned.
My original iPhone SE worked like a champ for a few years until its Lightning port seemed to constantly clog with dust. The same fate happened to my iPhone 4c before it. In all three cases, each iPhone worked flawlessly for two years, more or less, before port issues became persistent and harder to fix.
And there is a solution, although how easy it is depends on your manual dexterity. We have a guide on how to clean an iPhone’s charging port that involves a little more than a toothpick and a flashlight – you use the first tool to carefully remove debris and the second so that you can see what you’re doing in there. ribbon from a Lightning port.
Of course, there’s a third tool you’ll need to successfully charge your iPhone – the steady hands of a neurosurgeon, because it’s awfully easy to inadvertently scratch the charging device inside the Lightning port and cause lasting damage to your iPhone. I know because that’s exactly what I did with my iPhone SE. These days, I just head to my local Apple Store and let the pros clean my Lightning port. This fix is much more reliable, but certainly not very practical.
A future iPhone fix
Buying a case for your phone helps a bit, as long as that case comes with a cover for carrying the iPhone. But it’s not a silver bullet – I outfitted my iPhone SE in such a case at the time, and although it worked for a while, the flap covering the port eventually broke after some wear and tear. excessive. (Not surprising since you access your phone’s charging port at least once a day.) When it comes to protecting the Lightning port from dirt, a case feels like it’s just prevent the inevitable, at least in my case.
There’s an old adage that twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend. Well, we’re now on iPhone #3 hampered by a faulty Lightning port, so forgive me for thinking that Apple isn’t doing everything it can to keep its charging port working for as long as possible.
I’d like to see the design of the iPhone change to fix what seems to me to be a fairly persistent problem. That could mean adding a built-in port cover, though I suspect that would suffer the same fate as that iPhone SE case I tried a long time ago – over time it’s only another part that can break.
Apple might also be trying to change the port itself, and at least one iPhone 14 rumor suggests the phone maker might be doing just that. There’s been a long-running rumor that Apple is ditching its Lightning standard in favor of USB-C, with the iPhone 14 Pro models being the potential recipient of such a move.
But this change seems more likely driven by a desire to improve charging speeds and reduce proprietary charging devices. I’m not sure switching to USB-C over Lightning would improve durability much. While I’ve never encountered any USB-C port issues on the Android phones I’ve used, it’s also true that I haven’t used these devices as regularly as the aforementioned iPhones. If I carried a Pixel in my pocket for about two years, I imagine its charging port would also see a fair amount of dust collecting.
I think the most likely solution to the charging port problem is to get rid of the ports altogether. (“You can’t have problems with ports if there are no ports,” he said, posting the guy-taps-the-side-of-his-head GIF.) ‘iPhone already supports wireless charging via the Qi standard, which means you can use it with any of the best wireless chargers for your phone (although Apple would really like you to commit to MagSafe accessories, I’m sure).
iPhone Lightning Port Prospects
Either way, the durability of the iPhone’s charging port is something Apple will have to address, especially now that people have been keeping their phones for over two years. Charging your phone is something you do every day, and it’s essential that phone manufacturers ensure the process works as reliably as possible and for as long as possible.