|Type||Data and power connector|
|Superseded||30-pin dock connector|
|Pins of the Lightning connector|
|Pin 2||L0p||Lane 0 positive|
|Pin 3||L0n||Lane 0 negative|
|Pin 4||ID0||Identification/control 0|
|Pin 5||PWR||Power (charger or battery)|
|Pin 6||L1n||Lane 1 negative|
|Pin 7||L1p||Lane 1 positive|
|Pin 8||ID1||Identification/control 1|
|Lane 0 and 1 may swap in the IC of the device connector. (No swapping occurs if the accessory identification chip is connected to the ID0 pin.)|
Lightning is a proprietary computer bus and power connector, created and designed by Apple Inc. It was introduced on September 12, 2012, in conjunction with the iPhone 5, to replace its predecessor, the 30-pin dock connector. The Lightning connector is used to connect Apple mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and iPods to host computers, external monitors, cameras, USB battery chargers, and other peripherals. Using 8 pins instead of 30, Lightning is much smaller than its predecessor. The Lightning connector is reversible. The plug is indented on each side to match up with corresponding points inside the receptacle to retain the connection.
In 2018, Apple began transitioning to USB-C on iPad Pros and accessories. In response to legislation to standardize charging ports passed in 2022, Apple said it would comply with regulations. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus and the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, announced on September 12, 2023, became the first iPhones to use USB-C, and the last few Lightning accessories will make the transition by 2025.
The Lightning connector was introduced on September 12, 2012, with the iPhone 5, as a replacement for the 30-pin dock connector. The iPod Touch (5th generation), iPod Nano (7th generation), iPad (4th generation) and iPad Mini (1st generation) followed in October and November 2012 as the first devices with Lightning.
On November 25, 2012, Apple acquired the "Lightning" trademark in Europe from Harley-Davidson. Apple was given a partial transfer of the Lightning trademark, suggesting that Harley-Davidson likely retained the rights to use the name for motorcycle-related products.
Transition to USB-C
In October 2018, following the implementation of the connector across the Mac lineup, Apple released a range of iPad Pro models that replaced Lightning with USB-C; 2020 iPad Air (4th generation), 2021 iPad Mini (6th generation), and 2022 iPad (10th generation) similarly replaced Lightning with USB-C. In October 2022, Apple released the Siri Remote for the 3rd generation Apple TV 4K with a USB-C connector, becoming Apple's first accessory to charge via USB-C.
In January 2020, the European Commission proposed laws to standardize charger ports. On October 4, 2022, the European Parliament approved regulations that require all electronic devices to support USB-C, in order to meet pressure by EU consumers regarding financial costs and electronic waste. Commentators said that these regulations will impact Apple most heavily. Apple stated concerns that this will "harm consumers in Europe and around the world", but on October 25, 2022, Greg Joswiak, Vice President of Global Marketing for Apple, said that Apple will comply with the new EU regulations, indirectly confirming that iPhone models and other devices will ultimately replace Lightning with USB-C in the future.
Released on September 22, 2023, the iPhone 15/15 Pro series are the first iPhone models to use USB-C. This means all the latest iPad models since March 18, 2022, and iPhone models since September 22, 2023, have transitioned to USB-C. The 2nd generation AirPods Pro was updated to a USB-C charging case and the MagSafe Duo Charger and MagSafe Battery Pack, which used the Lightning connector, were discontinued.
The Lightning connector (used on iPhone 5 until iPhone 14) has a technical constraint that limits video output using the Lightning Digital AV HDMI Adapter to a maximum supported resolution of 1600 x 900 (slightly less than 1080p). The USB-C ports on iPhone 15 and thereafter supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode over USB-C video output with HDR up to 4K resolution.
Lightning is an 8-pin digital connector. Unlike the 30-pin dock connector it replaced (and USB Type-A and -B connectors), it is reversible.
Most Lightning devices only supported USB 2.0, which has a maximum transfer speed of 480 Mbps or 60 MB/s. With USB 2.0, only one lane is in use at a time. Only the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation) and 10.5-inch iPad Pro support USB 3.0 (now USB 3.2 Gen 1), which has a maximum transfer speed of 5 Gbps or 625 MB/s. This requires the Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter, which allows the iPad to connect with cameras and storage peripherals, but not computers.
Apple offers various adapters that allow the Lightning connector to be used with other interfaces, such as 30-pin, USB, HDMI, VGA, and SD cards. The Lightning to 30-pin adapter supports only a limited subset of the available 30-pin signals: USB data, USB charging, and analog audio output (via the DAC inside of the adapter).
Lightning connectors contain an authentication chip that makes it difficult for third-party manufacturers to produce compatible accessories without being approved by Apple. The authentication scheme has been cracked by some third parties.
The connector is 6.7 mm by 1.5 mm.
- Apple Pencil (1st generation)
- Magic Mouse 2
- Magic Keyboard 2
- Magic Trackpad 2
- AirPods (2nd generation) Lightning Charging Case
- AirPods (3rd generation) Lightning Charging Case/MagSafe Charging Case
- AirPods Max
- Powerbeats Pro
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5C
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone 6/6 Plus
- iPhone 6S/6S Plus
- iPhone SE (1st generation)
- iPhone 7/7 Plus
- iPhone 8/8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS/XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro/11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (2nd generation)
- iPhone 12/12 mini
- iPhone 13 mini
- iPhone 12 Pro/12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max
- iPhone 14 Pro/14 Pro Max
- iPad (4th generation)
- iPad (5th generation)
- iPad (6th generation)
- iPad (7th generation)
- iPad (8th generation)
- iPad Mini (1st generation)
- iPad Mini 2
- iPad Mini 3
- iPad Mini 4
- iPad Mini (5th generation)
- iPad Air
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPad Pro (1st generation)
- iPad Pro (2nd generation)
- iPod Nano (7th generation)
- iPod Touch (5th generation)
- iPod Touch (6th generation)
- iPod Touch (7th generation)
- Siri Remote for Apple TV (4th generation)
- Siri Remote for Apple TV 4K (1st & 2nd generation)
- Beats Solo Pro headphones
- BeatsX earphones
- Beats Pill+ speaker
- AirPods (1st generation) Charging Case and Wireless Charging Case
- AirPods Pro (1st generation) Wireless Charging Case
- AirPods Pro (2nd generation) MagSafe Charging Case
- Magic Keyboard
- Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock
- MagSafe Duo Charger
- MagSafe Battery Pack
Initial opinions of the Lightning connector in media were mixed: publications appreciated the reversibility and increased durability of the connector but were critical of its proprietary nature, of the effects of its authentication protocol on third-party accessory availability, and of the lack of performance improvements over the 30-pin dock connector.
Reviewers criticized Apple for continuing to include a Lightning port on its products instead of moving to USB-C, a more universal port, on its introduction, with this criticism escalating as Apple adopted USB-C as the primary connector for both data and power on the iPad Pro and MacBooks.
Apple has claimed that it continues to use Lightning because replacing it would supposedly produce "an unprecedented amount of electronic waste". Some reviewers, like Business Insider senior tech correspondent Lisa Eadicicco, have suggested that it is simply because Apple wants to continue profiting from its proprietary chargers and accessories.[failed verification]
A phenomenon exists on Lightning connectors in which Pin 1 or Pin 4 blackens over time, causing one side of the connector to cease functioning. These pins hold either a positive or negative electrical charge. As the gold plating of the pins wears out over time when the connector is connected while it is stained with liquid-like sweats, a spark gap can be produced due to extra current being drawn to a capacitor for a short period. This spark gap causes the copper pins to corrode, blackening them. In 2019, Apple released new versions of the Lightning connector and ceased production of the older versions. These new versions included many improvements over older versions, including new silver-colored ruthenium-rhodium plating of the contacts, instead of gold plating, which improved durability, reducing the possibility of corrosion.
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