USB-C vs. Lightning: Complete Guide in 2023

Without a shadow of a doubt, USB C and Lightning are two of the most popular ports that are widely found in modern devices. Not only do they look slightly similar, but they also perform certain similar roles.

However, they are pretty different in many aspects, which sets them apart. USB-C is designed for connecting most of the devices in the industry, while the Lightning port is only dedicated to connecting iPhones, iPods, and other Apple peripherals. Today in this article, we will take a look at the comprehensive comparison of USB-C vs. Lightning.

What is USB-C?

USB-C is a widely used connector that has become a standard protocol for connecting and charging different devices in the industry. It was launched in the year 2014 and had a 24-pin configuration.

It comes with a two-way bus system, so you can download or upload data with ease. Most modern devices come with USB-C ports, especially mobile devices, as it helps manufacturers to create slim devices.

What is Lightning?

The Lightning is a proprietor connector introduced by Apple Inc, and it was released with iPhone 5 in the market. It has an 8-pin configuration with a slim form factor, and it was introduced to replace the old 30-pin connector.

In terms of function, both USB and Lightning have similar functions. However, the place where it differs from USB-C is that it can only be used with iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices.

USB-C vs. Lightning: What’s the Difference?

Now, let’s take a look at the detailed comparison between USB-C and Lightning connector.

Data Transfer Rate Difference

The area where USB-C differs from Lightning is the data transfer rate, as it is much faster than Lightning. When you connect your iPhone to any device through a Lightning cable for data transfer, the maximum data transmission rate you will achieve is 480Mbps.

Since its release in 2012, Apple hasn’t made any update to the Lightning protocol, so it is safe to say the maximum speed hasn’t changed in recent years. On the other hand, USB-C is much faster than Lightning, and it can reach up to a transfer speed of 40Gbps as it supports USB 4.0 standards.

Besides USB 4.0 standards, USB-C also has a mammoth speed advantage over other USB standards. USB-C also supports USB 3.2, which helps it achieve 20Gbps, while the USB 3.1 standard allows it to reach 10Gbps.

Power Delivery Difference

Besides data transfer speed, USB-C also gets the edge because it can offer higher power delivery and faster-charging speed than Lightning. USB-C has a maximum power delivery of 100 watts at native 3A current, and it can also reach up to 5A current to deliver 240-watt of power.

Due to its high power delivery, not only it supports fast charging, but it also comes useful for connecting large devices that require a lot of power like printers, laptops, cameras, etc.

The Lightning connector can only achieve 12-watt power delivery and has a maximum current of 2.4A. So it is not able to deliver fast charging with standard Lightning cables. However, the modern iPhone comes with 20-watt charging support, and you can use a USB-C to Lightning adapter to fully charge the iPhone within an hour.

Durability Difference

In terms of durability, USB-C cables are considered to have better durability than Lightning cables. Although both cables are quite easier to use and fit smoothly without any struggle, there is a durability difference in cables.

According to many manufacturers, a USB-C cable can be connected and disconnected up to 10,000 times before it breaks down. However, USB-C is prone to a loose connection, and the ports start fitting loosely with time.

Lightning cables are often criticized due to their lack of durability and often break after a few years. Many people say that the lack of durability is mainly due to the exposed copper pins on the connector. In contrast, some professional tech experts suggest that Lightning cable can last longer than USB-C.

Moreover, it has a better fit than USB-C and doesn’t give loose connection even after years of usage. However, durability depends a lot on usage, maintenance, the device’s condition, and the quality of the cable.

Overall Cost Difference

USB-C was introduced by USB-IF, but there is no proprietorship, so any manufacturer can make this port and cable. Due to this, the cable quality may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the prices of all USB-C cables are pretty less in comparison to Lightning.

However, Lightning cables come with an expensive price tag as Apple is the sole manufacturer of this cable. All the Lightning cables come with MFI certification, which ensures it is an original Lightning cables made by Apple.

Non-MFI-certified Lightning cables generally don’t work with Apple, and even if it works, they can cause damage to the device.

Compatibility Difference

Another significant difference between USB-C and Lightning is the compatibility with different devices. Lightning connectors are only compatible with Apple devices, whereas USB-C is compatible with numerous modern devices, irrespective of brand.

From Android smartphones and speakers to gaming consoles and Windows computers, USB-C is compatible with many. It has become a standard USB choice for most manufacturers, and many next-gen are coming with USB-C connectors. What expands its compatibility reach is the support for Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports.

You can only use the Lightning cable to connect iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other Apple peripherals and nothing else. Due to its exclusiveness, it has limited usage, and to connect it with other devices, you will have to use adapters. Lightning cables are not supported by other products, but USB-C cable has been used by iPad Pro since its third generation.

USB-C and Lightning are quite different in their own ways, but if you look technically, USB-C is quite better in comparison to Lightning. Although there is a debate in terms of durability, besides that, USB-C gets the edge in most areas.

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