iPad Pro ditched the lightning port for USB-C in 2018, since then rumours have circulated regarding Apple’s future, with three possible options for their products: Lightning, USB-C or port-less.
After iPad Pro made the switch in 2018, 2019 saw Apple update the rest of the iPad line-up: iPad, iPad Mini and iPad Air. These all stuck with Lightning, while Apple reserved USB-C for their ‘Pro’ products.
For a refresher, iPad Air is Apple’s awkward middle product in a line-up that now includes five iPads. It sits between the iPad ($329) and the iPad Pro ($799). Updated March last year, starting at $499 with 10.5-inch screen and A12 Bionic chip.
New supply chain rumours suggest the iPad Air will join the iPad Pro in switching out the lightning port for USB-C. The update will also bump the screen up to 11-inch, update the processor to an A13 Bionic chip, introduce an under-display Touch ID sensor (the first in an Apple product), and may also feature a mini-LED display. The updated iPad Air is rumoured to come in the second half of 2020, but should the mini-LED rumours be legit, this may push it back to 2021.
The introduction of USB-C also saw the death of the headphone jack on iPad Pro in 2018. While this will require a dongle for those with 3.5mm headphones, there are benefits to offloading digital-to-analog conversion to external devices such as headphones as far as audio quality is concerned. If you’re buying into Apple’s view of a port-less future, now may be the time to invest in some Bluetooth headphones.
Rumours are fairly confident on the iPhone holding onto Lightning for one more year, then going fully port-less in 2021 for the iPhone 13. iPad and MacBooks will no doubt one day also go fully port-less, however the wireless future for these products is not here yet. It’s essential that users can still connect flash drives, external HDDs, SD cards, etc. to these products. Only once these external devices go wireless, can Apple feasibly justify going port-less across the board.