Apple iPhone15, USB-C, & iOS17

Apple iPhone15, USB-C, & iOS17: a reader asks…

I have an iPhone XR and will probably be updating to the new iPhone 15. Should I get the Pro, or just the regular version? And I’m reading about how the new iPhone will not have a Lightning connection any longer, and will that make it a pain for me? I have lighting cables already. I do have a Macbook that has USB-C ports, but also an Apple keyboard and trackpad, Airpods, and an iPad – these use Lightning connections. What should I do to ensure I’m covered? Oh, and is there anything about iOS 17 that I need to be worried about?

As far as most people are concerned, the primary difference between the regular iPhone 15 and Pro (other than cost) is the camera system. The Pro has a much better camera, and fits the need for shutterbugs, pro-sumers and professional photographers. Other less-important differences: the Pro has an always-on display, a newer processor (A17 Pro versus A16 Bionic), titanium case (versus aluminum), a faster USB-C data connection (USB3 versus USB2), and can be outfitted with up to 1tb of storage (versus the iPhone15 topping out at 512gb). It’s quite ok if none of these appeal to you.

For myself, the definitive issue is the camera system. In addition to 3x versus 2x optical zoom, the Pro has the ability to save images in DNG format, which is important for post-editing and preserves all the data of the image you took. The iPhone 15 only saves in JPG format, which is fine if you don’t need to blow up the image much, or do any other intensive image processing. If none of that is important to you, then there’s really no reason for you to get the Pro, in my opinion.

Regarding the switch from Lighting to USB-C, I can guess that you’ve been reading some shoddy journalism stories about how the iPhone 15’s switch to USB-C is going to make all your Lightning cables obsolete. The answer to that is “of course – eventually”, but no big deal, nor anything to worry about. All your Lightning-ported devices still need that connection, and until you replace them with new ones, you’ll still need, and be able to use your Lightning cables.

One thing that is changing: the electrical power needed to charge your iPhone 15 is likely greater than the old 5 or 10 watt power adapters you already have, and those power adapters probably don’t have a USB-C port. Your iPhone 15 will come with a USB-C cable, but not a power adapter. Apple sells 20 watt USB-C power adapter that you’ll need. You can still charge your iPhone with the old power adapter, but it’ll take a very long time to recharge your iPhone’s battery.

Apple sells the new power adapter for $20, and a 6′ USB-C cable for $29, if you need an extra. That cable is rated for high-power (240 watts), so is fine. But one thing to be aware of: these Apple USB-C cables only transfer data at USB2 rates (same as the Lightning cable: 480mbps). If you want a cable with faster data transfer rates, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. I should note that Apple does sell a Thunderbolt 4 cable, but it’s much more expensive than others available online. Since Apple was forced into adopting USB-C for the iPhone (by the EU), they’ve not been keen on fleshing out the accessories, since there are so many cheaper cables out there. And the USB-C connector type is only one aspect of the current mess we have with compatible cables…

Meaning that you really need to look at the specifications for a cable you buy to make sure it fits your needs. There’s the power delivery aspect, where you need a cable that can handle the higher wattage needs of your iPhone 15 (and Macbook), but then there’s the data transfer capability, with a confusing array of nomenclature such as USB3.0, USB3.1 and various “gen” adds, as well as Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4.


If all you need to do is charge your iPhone, then the cheap USB-C cable from Apple will work quite nicely.

For your other Apple devices (iPad, keyboard, trackpad, Airpods), your old USB-A power adapter and Lightning cable will work just fine. No need to make any changes. Some newer iPads already come with a USB-C connection, and Apple just released new Airpods that use USB-C, but they still sell wireless keyboards and trackpads that charge with a Lightning port. Who knows when they’ll all get moved to USB-C, but probably not your concern until you start replacing your devices.

One other thing to consider is that the iPhone 15 (and newer Airpods) have MagSafe wireless charging capability built in. Many folks are dropping the cable entirely and just using a MagSafe puck to charge their iPhone. I personally like the array of MagSafe-compatible desk stands that can hold your iPhone and your other Apple devices, and charge them all – a set of Airpods and even an Apple Watch. Such as this one on for $66. If you opt for the iPhone 15 Pro with always-on display, this is a nice bedside stand to charge all your Apple bits and give you a handy clock display.

There are also other things that you can use with a MagSafe puck to make your life easier. For my office desk and in my car, I like the Nite-Ize Orbiter setup, which you can get at Basically, this uses an Apple MagSafe puck (which you buy separately), and you can either get a dashboard ball for your car, or a ball on a pedestal for your desk. You attach your MagSafe puck to the Orbiter magnet, and that sticks to either ball. You can then slide your iPhone onto the MagSafe puck and the extra magnetism of the Orbiter keeps it in place. You can rotate the iPhone horizontally or vertically too. Totally not necessary, but a very handy thing to add to your arsenal of accessories.

Since your new iPhone 15 or 15 Pro will come with iOS 17, you really don’t have anything to be concerned about, other than getting used to the new features. There are plenty of news articles laying out the new features, so I’m not going to repeat them here. What I will say is that you never need to worry about a new iOS version, and whatever iPhone you use, you should always install any new versions and updates to your iPhone within a few weeks of their release. Your current iPhone XR will run iOS 17 which gets released today (September 18), so I’d consider installing it in the next week or so if you want to try out any of the new features before you get your new iPhone 15…

I say in the next week or so, because new versions of iOS (or any operating system) almost always have bugs in them, and you want to let the early adopters find them, report them, and wait for Apple to issue an update to fix the worst ones beforehand, so you don’t have to deal with them.

You didn’t ask, but I assume you’ll either transfer everything from your old iPhone to the new one at the Apple Store, or on your own. Apple has complete instructions here.

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