You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would argue that Apple’s Lightning connector isn’t superior to the old 30-pin connector in every way. That’s why it’s surprising that it has taken Apple so long to phase 30-pin out of its product lineup.
Today Apple brought back the fourth-gen iPad to replace the non-Retina iPad 2. While the press release focuses on the obvious display upgrade, discontinuing the iPad 2 means something else that’s important: another nail in the coffin for 30-pin.
If you look at Apple’s iPad lineup now, each tablet is Lightning-equipped. It has taken nearly two years, but Apple has managed to unify an entire product group around a shared connector.
Not only is Lightning 80% smaller than 30-pin, but it’s also reversible and more durable. Most third-party accessory makers have completely switched to Lightning or USB by now, but companies like Belkin and Griffin still sell 30-pin cables. Apple sells a Lightning to 30-pin adapter for $29.
30-pin still lives thanks mainly to the iPhone 4s
In the current iPhone lineup, 30-pin still lives thanks mainly to the iPhone 4s. And with reports that Apple is still manufacturing the iPhone 4 in developing markets like India, it may take a little longer for Lightning to become entirely ubiquitous. The iPhone 5c seems positioned to take the place of the 4s as Apple’s lowest-tier phone. Whether it happens this year or the next, it’s only a matter of time before the 30-pin connector is completely retired.
Unless you include the iPod Classic. It seems like that thing will never die.