Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s All-New Lightning Connector

Apple’s iPhone 5, 5th generation iPod touch and 7th generation iPod nano that were unveiled on Wednesday came with a new dock connector dubbed Lightning, which replaced the 30-pin dock connector that was first launched in 2003.

Apple is widely expected to use the new Lightning dock connector across its entire iOS product line in the future, including the rumored iPad mini, the tweaked iPad 3, which are expected to be launched later this year.

Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s new Lightning dock connector:

  • The obvious change is the size – the new Lightning dock connector is 80% smaller than the 30-pin dock connector. Phil schiller – Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide marketing said that it simply wasn’t possible to build products as thin as the new iPhones and iPods without changing the dock connector.
  • It features an all-digital, eight-signal design. AnandTech explains what that means: “The basic conceit of this new connector is that at any point in time, not all the pins of the 30-pin connector were active. So, if a particular use case involved the charging pins and some audio pins, or the charging pins and USB pins, why not design a system that provides just enough pins for any given use case. The iPhone senses what pins are being requested and some on-device signaling sends the necessary bits over the available pins.”
  • Apple also claims that it is a lot more durable.
  • The Lightning connector is reversible, so it means that there’s no wrong way to plug in the cable, which is probably the biggest benefit from a consumer point of view.
  • A new Lightning to USB cable will cost you $19, which is the same cost as the old Apple dock connector to USB.
  • Adapters: As expected, Apple has also launched a two adapters for the new Lightning connector.
    • Lightning to 30-pin dock connector: It allows you to connect your iPhone 5, 5th generation iPod touch and 7th generation iPod nano to 30-pin accessories such as speakers, car chargers etc. It supports for analog audio output, USB audio, as well as syncing and charging. It does not support video output. It’s available for $29.


    • Lightning to 30-pin dock connector (0.2m): It’s similar to the one above, just that this one comes with a 0.2m cable. It does not support video output. It’s available for $39.


    • Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters: Apple is apparently also planning to release a Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters in coming months.
  • The lack of video out support means that you may not be able to connect to your in-car aftermarket entertainment systems that use the video out function of the 30-pin connector to display and control apps from head units.
  • It also looks like Apple will be the sole seller of the new Lightning adapters initially, which rules out cheaper cables and adapters at least for the time being.
  • Apple has said that the Lightning connector will be supported by a number of third-party accessory makers, including Bose, JBL and B&W.

We still don’t know if the new Lightning connector will offer much faster I/O connectivity and transfer rates as rumors had suggested. Apple marketing pitch for the new dock connector is “Smaller. Smarter. Durable. Reversible”, which indicates that it may not be significantly faster as we had hoped, which would be quite ironic given the name. We’ll get a confirmation once iPhone 5. the new iPod touch and iPod nano are available.

Overall, we understand why Apple had to make a new dock connector, but it could have avoided some of the criticism it’s getting in the press for making such a pivotal change by making the adapters more affordable.

Let us know what you think about Apple’s new Lightning connector.

Like this post? Share it!

  • MJB

    If it comes in the box with the phone and it connects to USB… Who cares…? So you replace a few old accessories to accomodate

    • William

      ^ No one cares about USB. I connect my iphone to thunderbolt.

      • MJB

        OK, great, then connect through your thunderbolt connection… Whatever… And MOST people will still use USB… To say no one cares about USB is just plain ridiculous.

        • Andrew

          how do you connect it through thunderbolt? wheres the cable for that at?

      • Twfg+D

        Nobody eh? That’s a pretty broad statement. Especially because almost all car stereos only use USB, as with most people. But it’s okay, you’re better than us because of your Thunderbolt! Yay!

      • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

        Lots of people still use USB. Just about every portable device on the market is USB.

  • Alan

    Crap, didn’t know about the lack of video out support. Now I am in two minds if I should buy iPhone 5 or stick with my iPhone 4S as I depend on video-out for my car’s audio system.

    Btw, loving the detailed coverage, which cover these minute details.

    • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

      Glad you like it. The lack of video out is quite annoying.

    • joe

      Are you sure you don’t mean audio-out for the cars audio system.

  • Alex

    No thinderbolt cable for lightning? Thts stupid

    • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

      Perhaps Apple could create a thunderbolt adapther for that mini plug that is universal.

  • joe

    $39 for an adapter? They are actually pissing on us and telling us it’s raining.

    • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

      Yeah that price is a little bit to expenisve.

  • fs

    I must admit I am pissed off. Apple marketing is responsible for tons of accessories worldwide going to trash – environment…who cares? Personally I think that greed will one day be the end of Apple. Did you know that in Europe they make customers pay about 890,- $ for it? How about 38$ for a Bumper and 51,-$ for the 30Pin-Adapter?

    I’d sleep well if I knew that at least the workers who built it in China were payed a fair price.

    Once I was an Apple evangelist – today I am disgusted by what this company does to their workers, their customers, internet and computer culture and by the way to the environment. Shame on me for having “evangelized” at least 40 of my friends, familiy and colleagues.

    • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

      I’m sure that someone else will come out with a third party adapter. If they can’t it is probably because of Apple lawsuits that have been going on with Samsung.

  • sahid

    It better be USB 3.0!!!! or I’ll be mad!

  • Cheap

    I pay more when I buy a feed at a takeaway shop, why do people always want technology for next to nothing

  • Michael

    I am annoyed to, no iPod out on the adaptor hence my car radio, my clock radio etc all wont work. Was not worried about the price of the adaptor all I want is for the iPod out connectivity APPLE ARE YOU LISTENING?

  • kim lam

    Loosers ..samsung galaxy s3 rules

    • http://www.facebook.com/maxim.laskavy Maxim Laskavy

      You are in denial!

      Android = Windows = Sucks!!!

      • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

        Actually it sorta goes like this:
        Android > Apple because of its openess and it is not locked down as much at all
        Ubuntu > Mac and Windows because Ubuntu is also based on Linux, and is not locked down in any way.

  • Fish

    Does this mean that iPad is the only product that still has the old connector? I’m going to delay buying one until it catches up. Is it true that there will be a tweaked iPad this year?

  • Pet

    Base on TB port (TB to HDMI adaptor) on MBP which can’t detect some tv/monitors, i do worry about the new design. For a typical user, when Plug and Play not work, there is really nothing to do. I guess there will be more complain about charger/device not being detected ever then before rather then complain about the bulky adaptor you have to carry around all the time… will see…?

  • old lady with a new ipodtouch

    apple always leaves you needing more. I agree, $30.00 for a lightening to 30 pin adapter is a little steep, why couldn’t it have been included to make everyone accept the change without being inconvenienced?