Awesome iPhone mod brings the upgrade everybody wants

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iPhone X with USB-C mod
Good riddance, Lightning connector.
Photo: Ken Pillonel

I think most of us can agree that iPhone is long overdue a USB-C upgrade. But despite bringing the technology to Mac and iPad years ago, Apple seems reluctant to ditch Lightning for its smartphones. So, someone else did.

Robotics engineering student Ken Pillonel managed to replace the Lightning connector in his iPhone with a working USB-C connector. The mod allows for charging and data transfer — but it’s not one you’ll want to perform yourself.

iPhone mod brings USB-C connectivity

Pillonel spent months of his spare time working to bring USB-C connectivity to his iPhone X. It started with a simple prototype that allowed an iPhone battery to charge with a USB-C connector. But that rather rudimentary proof of concept proved too big to actually fit inside an iPhone, so Pillonel kept working.

The project, which required Pillonel to pull apart plenty of USB-C and Lightning cables — and to reverse-engineer Apple’s custom C94 connector — eventually led to him creating his own flexible printed circuit board that fits inside an iPhone. The final result is an iPhone X with USB-C that can be used for charging and syncing.

You can see it in action in Pillonel’s teaser video below. He promises another that will detail the entire process, including the reverse-engineering efforts, for anyone brave enough to attempt the iPhone-USB-C mod themselves.

It’s not yet clear if Pillonel plans to offer or provide further details on his custom PCB, which would make the mod significantly easier (but still pretty difficult) for other iPhone owners.

Will iPhone ever get USB-C?

If the European Commission gets its way, Apple will be forced to bring USB-C connectivity to iPhone in the future. The EU already announced plans to make the connector standard on all devices in an effort to reduce waste. Apple is the only smartphone-maker that still manufactures flagship smartphones without USB-C.

Apple could avoid the EU’s mandate by simply including a USB-C to Lightning adapter with iPhones sold in Europe, just like it did when the European Commission pushed for smartphones to use micro USB. But there could come a time when iPhone doesn’t use a connector at all.

Apple is rumored to be working on a “portless” iPhone that will rely exclusively on wireless technologies for both charging and data transfer.