This iOS 13.4 Feature Hints at a Future Portless iPhone

iPhone X with Lightning port to USB blocked
OS recovery for portless iPhone
Credit: 9to5Mac

A feature found in the latest beta release of iOS 13.4 seems to me that it hints at a future iPhone without a Lightning port: OS Recovery.

Data Recovery

In roughly the past six months or so, I’ve been hearing more than one rumor that someday we could get an iPhone that doesn’t have a Lightning port. This of course contrasts with another rumor that iPhones could move to a USB-C port. But a feature that 9to5Mac found in the latest beta of iOS 13.4 makes me think of a portless iPhone.

It’s possible that Apple could bring data recovery over the internet to the iPhone. Maybe the iPad, too. It would let people restore iOS wirelessly over the internet, instead of plugging it into a Mac or PC. They mention the phrase “OS Recovery” and it sounds like it would work in the same way as Internet Recovery on macOS.

As far as I know, restoring a device is one of the obstacles to a completely portless, wireless iPhone. They can be charged wirelessly, you can share data wirelessly with AirDrop, and of course data can be synced and backed up via iCloud. But software recovery has always required you to plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac/PC.


As I mentioned in my iPhone 12 rumor roundup, if Apple does plan to introduce a portless iPhone in the future, it makes more sense to skip USB-C and go straight to portless, if USB-C was even ever in the plan to begin with. Going from the old 30-pin connector to Lightning meant that both users and companies had to buy/make new cables and accessories. Apple should just skip USB-C and eliminate another painful transition.

I also think Apple will introduce a portless iPhone one model at a time. The company has already been releasing multiple models with the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Max. Remove the port form one iPhone first so that people can voluntarily choose to forgo a port, then gradually remove the port from the other models. We don’t want to remove it without warning like the headphone jack.

Why portless? Two things come to mind. It would make an iPhone more resistant to water, although I’m not sure if it would be waterproof. And it could even prevent iPhone hacking using devices like GrayKey, which require the phone to be plugged into the device. I don’t know if that could be accomplished wirelessly, but if so it would probably take some time to catch up.

What do you think? Will Apple make a portless iPhone? Will it move to USB-C, or stick with Lightning?

5 thoughts on “This iOS 13.4 Feature Hints at a Future Portless iPhone

  • As for charging at airports and hotels, etc… It doesn’t seem too difficult to imagine a USB -A cable with a small “Qi” puck on the charging end. That simply makes it a matter of a different cable for your car as well as travel. This, of course, assumes your phone is capable of wireless charging. Aren’t they all?

    And, in retrospect, I assume the charging connection allows for data to & fro. Does it?

  • Just looking at USB C vs. Lighting connectors, the USB C connector is a bit more on the “chunky” side. As a result, USB C would take up more space on a iPhone PCB. Think going port-less on an iPhone would solve Apple’s problem of having to comply with European Union’s universal charger requirement which will be mandated by a European Union Directive which they would need to comply with for CE marking of the iPhone. The only problem with a port-less iPhone is that it will make Apple Car Play useless for most current users as their cars still require usb connections to the car’s infotainment system. Yes, there are cars that support wireless Apple Car Play but, these models are very much in the current minority.

    1. Ah, that’s a good point. I forgot about CarPlay. Maybe if Apple introduces it with one model at first, it will give everyone else time to make wireless CarPlay more prevalent.

      1. Qi charging is not the fastest. Charging directly with a USB wired cable via the Lighting Port is. In addition, public chargers are set up mainly as USB chargers. At least that’s what I saw at airports a few years back. Will municipalities be anxious to change or include Qi chargers as public chargers?

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