In Cult of Mac’s feature on the future of Apple’s dock connector, John Brownlee hypothesized that Apple’s next iOS device dock would be significantly smaller because the current 30-pin architecture is severely outdated. Nearly half of the current dock connectors pins are for legacy technology no one uses anymore, and Brownlee’s research matched up perfectly with the general consensus at the time: Apple would introduce a smaller 19-pin dock connector in the next iPhone this fall.
Since then, newer rumors have surfaced claiming that Apple’s new dock connector will be even smaller than everything originally thought. Leaked photos have depicted a micro dock that could very well consist of only 7-9 pins.
New pictures of an alleged iPhone 5 exterior have surfaced today that compare the new dock connector with the current 30-pin design. The above pic reiterates the significantly smaller design, and also the possibility of a surprise to look forward to when the next iPhone is unveiled in the coming weeks.
French site Nowehereelse.fr got its hands on side-by-side shots of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, and the dock connector pic is the best quality we’ve seen so far.
A loose Google translation of Nowehereelse.fr (edited for clarity):
One of the two other pictures that we have received in high resolution informs us that the new connector built into the iPhone 5 should be even smaller than we thought—minuscule compared with the current standard! The photo in question is indeed the first of its kind in which we discover that a metal ring completes the connection port built into the framework of the shell that we have already seen on numerous occasions and whose authenticity has been confirmed day by day.
As you can see, the metallic ring around the port itself could very well suggest some sort of MagSafe-like technology. You can’t actually see the number of pins in the photo, unfortunately. iOS 6 apparently references “9Pin,” so this tiny dock could very well be home to way less than 19 pins.
There is no metallic ring around the current 30-pin dock connector (or MagSafe MacBook connectors, for that matter), and we think it’s a stretch to assume that the ring around the iPhone 5 connector is for MagSafe. How would an iOS device dock connector work with MagSafe? How would you make an iPhone stand upright in a dock? Perhaps MagSafe will be used to help guide the connector into the port. One of the benefits of MagSafe would be the ability to insert a connector into the dock in any orientation, but then again, Apple’s new pin design could also allow for this without MagSafe.
Apple is rumored to implement this smaller dock connector into its entire iOS device lineup this fall, starting with the iPhone 5. As you can see, the new dock is less than half the size of the current 30-pin dock. Apple is also expected to sell a new-to-old adapter so 30-pin accessories won’t suddenly become completely obsolete.