Are you excited about the prospect of a smaller, 19-pin dock connector for the iPhone 5? I’m not sure if I am or not, but it appears to be the first hardware upgrade coming to the new iPhone that is nearing consensus.
Word came down from Tech Crunch today that their sources, which ostensibly come from the consumer electronics accessories industry, that the 19-pin dock connector is a done deal for the iPhone 5:
TechCrunch has independently verified that Apple is working on adding a 19-pin port, replacing the current 30-pin port, to the new iPhone. . . . The new port, partially shown in this Mobilefun post as well as in this video, is similar in size to the Thunderbolt port available on many MacBook devices but I’ve been told by three independent manufacturers that the pin-out will be different.
A similar report piggybacked on what Tech Crunch had to say on SlashGear:
Today we’re hearing from sources familiar with the matter that a brand new 19-pin port has replaced the 30-pin port we know and love on the new iPhone. This iPhone 5 model has had its hardware change confirmed to TechCrunch where they’ve got several sources, each of them manufacturers in the line of fire, as it were, speaking up on how the new dock port is indeed in the works.
Weirdly, one of the iPhone 5 News Blog‘s own sources in the consumer tech industry made reference to the new dock connector in a Skype chat meeting on Monday night. The source, who chooses to remain anonymous, is the Director of Marketing at a consumer electronics accessories company, and had this to say (in broken English):
[6/18/12 11:11:57 PM] (Source): and the new iphone, as you know, the “pin” will change
[6/18/12 11:12:08 PM] Michael Nace: yes. The “dock connector.”
[6/18/12 11:12:16 PM] Michael Nace: but that is only a rumor.
[6/18/12 11:12:21 PM] (Source): and I know APPLE limited the manufacturer on cable
[6/18/12 11:12:55 PM] (Source): we has to be authorized make for iPhone/ipad/ipod manufacturer… cuz the pin has to be match with apple IC
[6/18/12 11:12:57 PM] (Source): that’s what i heard
I didn’t make much of it at the time, since we were talking about a wide range of different tech-related topics, and at that time, I wasn’t really all that interested or excited about the prospect of a 19-pin dock connector for the iPhone 5.
And I’m still not sure that I am.
How’s that for ambivalence, huh?
I’ve tried to unearth some perspective on why Apple is changing the dock connector. In my opinion, the current 30-pin dock connector is outdated, but only because I’d much rather see them use the same magnetic power coupling that is featured on MacBooks. Granted, that technology to do so might still be a way’s away — it would have to transfer both data and power — but in the interim, I’m not sure I understand how the benefits outweigh the headaches in this changeover.
Tech Crunch offered this insight to the old school 30-pin dock connector: “Apple’s 30-pin ports have been the standard since Apple released the third generation iPod. The connectors offered structural stability when connecting to most accessories but it’s clear – especially with the introduction of the MagSafe 2 port – Apple is more concerned with space savings inside each device.”
This is just about the only perspective on why Apple would make this change — to save on space, so that they can go with a much slimmer form factor. Oddly, the recent rumored photos of the iPhone 5 show what looks to be the 19-pin dock — but I can’t say that the overall form factor has been slimmed down greatly as a result of it. Moreover, I’d offer that the Razr probably uses the standard micro USB, and still manages to be thin enough to earn its namesake.
There has to be more to it than just — thinness.
Perhaps the 19-pin connector will improve charge time, data flow, or some other factor that we are not yet privy to. In any case, it appears that it might be the first hardware lock for the iPhone 5 — even moreso than a larger screen. I’m just sorry it isn’t a sexier hardware feature to get excited about.
By Michael Nace