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The iPhone 15 could get one of the biggest upgrades in years: A new charging port

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Apple will “comply” with European Union regulation that requires electronic devices to be equipped with USB-C charging, said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. That will mean Apple’s iPhones, which currently use its proprietary Lightning charging standard, will need to change to support USB-C. Jakub Porzyck | Nurphoto | Getty Images

 

 

 

The next iPhones, expected in September as usual, could have a feature that no iPhone has ever had: a generic charging port.

The new iPhone models could include a USB Type-C charger port on the phone’s bottom, according to analysts and media reports. That’s the same charging port that’s used on nearly every laptop sold in the past few years, as well as Android phones, iPads, and other gadgets from Kindles to headphones to drones and heated blankets.

The USB-C connector would replace Apple’s proprietary port, the Lightning port, which has graced the bottom of every iPhone model released since 2012.

The shift would be one of the biggest improvements to the iPhone in years for consumers.

IPhone users would no longer need to bring two different cables for their phone and other gadgets while traveling. Android users could borrow chargers from people who own iPhones. IPhone users could borrow chargers from anyone using a newer laptop. Schools and businesses could standardize on one type of charger for their entire fleet of devices. USB-C could even allow iPhones to access faster charging speeds.

While Apple hasn’t confirmed that its new iPhones will feature a USB-C charging port, and didn’t respond to a request for comment, the change is bound to happen.

A new regulation passed by the European Union last year requires USB-C ports on new smartphones by 2024. Apple is unlikely to produce an iPhone model solely for the European market. “Obviously, we’ll have to comply,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s chief marketer, said last year.

Consumer benefits, like the reduced “lock-in” to a single manufacturer, helped form the reasoning behind the new regulations. The EU estimates the rule could save Europeans 250 million euros per year on chargers. The EU also said old chargers account for about 11,000 tons of e-waste per year in the region.

Apple opposed the law. In a 2021 letter, Apple said that the regulation would hamper future charging innovation, could require it to take devices off the market early, and could confuse consumers with additional information.

“We are concerned that regulation mandating just one type of connector for all devices on the market will harm European consumers by slowing down the introduction of beneficial innovations in charging standards, including those related to safety and energy efficiency,” Apple said in the letter.

Whenever Apple changes the ports on its devices, skeptics believe it’s just an effort to make more money on its premium-priced cables. Apple’s most capable USB-C cable retails for $39.

For example, when Apple added USB-C chargers to MacBook laptops starting in 2015, it drew jokes about the dongles required to plug older accessories into the new laptops.

When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, it spurred months of commentary, both for and against the “courageous” change, about whether Apple was pushing people to its more expensive wireless AirPods. It still inspires takes today about whether it was the right decision; most Android phones have followed suit.

But while Apple makes money from its cables, and has a program where accessory makers pay for access and official Apple parts called “MFi,” Apple’s strategic focus is making sure that its products work together without major flaws so its users continue to buy new iPhones. It’s not nickel-and-diming dongles and accessories.

Cable sales are reported in Apple’s Wearables, Home, and Accessories product line, which reported $41 billion in revenue in 2022, although Apple Watches and headphones make up the majority of the sales. That’s much smaller than the $205 billion in iPhone sales Apple reported during the year.

Possible downsides

Apple’s argument that a new charger will cause confusion holds more water. With the Lightning port, companies that wanted to make officially approved accessories have to apply for Apple’s program, and pay for access to specifications and official Apple parts. For consumers, this meant that while there were a few knockoff Lightning devices to avoid, at most stores, the dock or clock or cable users purchased would just work.

USB-C is a different beast. It’s a “standard,” which means the exact specifications are published by a group of companies and individuals working together. Anyone can use those specifications to build cables, and you don’t need to enroll in an Apple-administered program.

This also means that many iPhone users will learn that not all cables with a USB-C connector are created equal. Some cables can transfer data quickly, and some can’t. Back when the standard was first introduced, some cables could even cause damage to devices because they were misconfigured, though this hasn’t been as common in recent years. Some cables even support “Thunderbolt,” a modern data transfer standard for powerful accessories such as monitors or docks, although at a higher price. There are websites that test and approve cables that are “compliant” with the USB-C standard.

Apple will likely let users know if a cable is appropriate for charging an iPhone, through software warnings, what it carries at its retail operation, and through its MFi program.

But it’s clear that the charger port switch raises possibilities for frustrating situations that didn’t exist when Apple stuck with its proprietary charger. Apple’s current troubleshooting document for USB-C charging issues on Mac tells users to test with Apple’s official cables and power adapters.

The world won’t change overnight when Apple’s iPhones have USB-C ports. Apple still develops some of its own proprietary charging standards, such as MagSafe, which uses magnets to affix a charging puck to the back of an iPhone. Its Apple Watch uses a unique magnetic charger as well. Even after using USB-C as the only charging port on its MacBook laptops for years, Apple recently introduced a proprietary magnetic charger on recent models.

Eventually, Apple watchers predict, the company is likely to try to remove ports entirely from the iPhone, but until then, Apple aficionados with multiple products will still need to carry several different charging cables.

Still, the USB-C port is a step in the right direction for iPhone users, even if Apple is grumbling along the way. Apple preferred an approach that would standardize charging bricks but allow cables to be specific for a type of device.

“What that allows you to do is have over a billion people — it’s not a small number of people have that connector on the left [pointing to the Lightning cable] — to be able to use what they have already, and not have to be disrupted,” Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Greg Jozwiak, said in 2022.

 

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New photos reveal more details about Google’s Pixel 9 Pro Fold

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Google’s secret new line of Pixel 9 phones isn’t that big of a secret anymore. Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) released new photos of the phones including the Pixel 9 Pro Fold from almost every conceivable angle.

Android Authority found the photos in the NCC archives and uploaded galleries of each of the four phones including the Pixel 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro XL and 9 Pro Fold. They reveal some interesting details about the new Pixel phones.

The charging rates will be a little faster than the last generation of Pixel phones: Taiwanese authorities measured 24.12W for the base model, 25.20W for the Pro and 32.67W for the 9 Pro XL. The Pixel 9 Pro Fold, however, was the slowest of all of them at 20.25W. These numbers don’t often match up perfectly with the advertised ratings, so expect Google to be promoting higher numbers at its event.

Speaking of chargers, it looks like Google needed a bigger charger to power its new phones. Photos included in the NCC leak show each phone will come with a wall charger that’s around 45W depending on which model you purchase. The charger’s plug moved from the middle to the top of the brick.

The Google Pixel 9 Pro Fold can fully unfold.
NCC/Android Authority

The latest photo dump also shows the 9 Pro Fold unfolded for the first time. Google has moved the selfie camera to the inside screen for a wider field of view. The 9 Pro Fold also has a slimmer top and bottom, a reduced fold crease on the display and a full 180 degree unfolding angle to make a screen that’s just over 250mm or just under 10 inches.

These photos are the latest in a very long list of leaks of Google Pixel 9 photos. The last Pixel 9 leak came down yesterday showing two prototype models of the base and XL models. Google might look into buying a new combination lock for the high school locker where they apparently keep all their unreleased gear.

 

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Apple Wallet now supports Canada’s Presto card, with Express Transit

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Apple Wallet now supports the Presto transit card used in Ontario, Canada. The card can be used for travel in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa.

The digital version of the card includes the Express Transit Pass feature, meaning that you can tap in and out without having to authenticate …

 

Ontario’s Presto card

The Presto contactless smart card system was first trialled back in 2007, and started the full rollout in 2009. The card can be used across 11 different transit systems in the areas covered.

Apple Wallet support was first promised many years ago, but things went quiet until a “coming soon” announcement back in May of this year.

Although the contactless terminals allow the use of credit and debit cards for regular fares, a Presto card is needed for monthly passes and discounted travel.

Apple Wallet support now available

The company made the announcement today.

Tap to ride with PRESTO on iPhone and Apple Watch.

Traveling around town just got easy with your PRESTO in Apple Wallet. With Express Mode, you don’t need to wake or unlock your iPhone or Apple Watch or open any apps to use PRESTO in Apple Wallet. Just hold your device near the reader to pay and go.

Ride, even when your iPhone needs a charge

If your iPhone needs a charge, PRESTO Card in Apple Wallet will still work. Power Reserve provides up to five hours of support, so you can still ride.

Reload on the go. 

With your PRESTO card on your iPhone and Apple Watch, you can easily load funds, right from Apple Wallet or PRESTO App. No need to visit a customer service outlet.

Extra security. Built right in 

PRESTO in Apple Wallet can take full advantage of the privacy and security features built into iPhone and Apple Watch. Your PRESTO card is stored on the device, which means Apple does not see when you use it—helping keep your data private and secure.

If you lose your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can use the Find My app to lock and help locate the device and suspend your PRESTO card or remotely erase the device and its cards.

Mobile Syrup reports that you can choose between adding your existing card to your Wallet, or creating a new one.

There are two ways to add a Presto card to Apple Wallet. You can either buy a new card or move your old one over using the Presto app.

That being said, for simplicity’s sake, unless you have a discounted Presto agreement like a student or senior plan, I think most riders will be happy just making a new card in Apple Wallet and loading funds from that app.

As with any digital card or pass, you can use either your iPhone or Apple Watch, but because each generates a unique virtual card number, you need to use the same device at both ends of your journey.

Express Transit feature

To minimize delays, Presto offers Express Transit support. This means that you don’t need to authenticate using Face ID or Touch ID on your iPhone, and you don’t need to double-tap the side button on your Apple Watch. Simply hold your device close to the pad and you’re good (a number of clues are used to detect fraudulent use).

Express Transit also has the advantage that it continues to work in Low Power mode, so you’ll still be able to complete your journey even if your phone or Watch is almost dead.

Image: Presto

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The OnePlus Pad 2 Wants to Be the iPad Air of Android Tablets

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The original OnePlus Pad was a decent all-around Android tablet, but it was not amazing in any one area. Now, OnePlus is back with a new tablet device that packs more power, has a better screen, more speakers, and a higher starting price. OnePlus offers an Android tablet alternative that costs less than the latest iPad Airs, though it seems like it’s hewing very close to the rendition from 2023. 

The OnePlus Pad 2 is a one-size-fits-all 12.1-inch 3K tablet. At $550 for 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, it’s $70 more than the first OnePlus Pad, though it starts with more memory and twice as much internal storage as the first go around’s paltry 128 GB. It’s bigger than the 11.6 LCD on last year’s Pad, though now it’s beefed its resolution to 3K (3000 x 2120) with a stated 600 nits typical and 900 nits peak brightness. It has a variable refresh rate between 30 and 144 Hz, though it’s still an LCD screen, the same as the 2023 OnePlus Pad.

Just like last year’s version, the new Pad supports Dolby Atmos, but it boasts a six-stereo speaker configuration on either side of the device. It may not be as specifically sound-tailored as the Lenovo Tab Plus, but what’s promised is a solid middle ground. 

Last year’s tablet used MediaTek Dimensity 9000 CPU, which was good enough for most applications but not exactly top of its class. The Pad 2 is now powered with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile chip. Gizmodo has already experienced some of the chip’s capabilities in Samsung’s latest foldables, and already it’s very promising. We haven’t yet had the chance to compare a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 tablet to Apple’s latest iPad Air with M2, though on the whole, M2 usually performs better than Qualcomm’s mobile chips in bare benchmark tests. How much that matters depends on what programs you expect to use on your tablet. 

Image: OnePlus

Every device maker thinks they need AI to compete, and OnePlus isn’t an outlier here. There are promised “AI Toolbox” features like AI text-to-speech and recording summaries. The AI Eraser 2.0 will also work like Google’s Magic Eraser to remove unwanted photo elements. 

There’s a new $99 OnePlus Stylo 2 and a $150 Oneplus Smart Keyboard to accompany the new tablet. Despite the size and price difference, there will be many similarities between last year’s and the 2024 model. The Pad 2 has the same 9,510 mAh battery as last year’s, plus the 67W “SUPERVOOC” fast charging. It promises 43 days of standby time, though in our experience, the first Pad’s lifespan and promised “one-month standby life” was far more modest in practice, lasting most of the day before needing a recharge. 

With a bigger screen, the upcoming Pad 2 is slightly heavier than last year’s rendition. It weighs about 1.3 pounds, so it’s exactly between the 11- and 13-inch iPad Airs or slightly more than the base 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 (and far less than the humongous Tab S9 Ultra). It will be relatively thin at 6.49 mm, but it’s not beating the iPad Air’s 6.1 mm or the iPad Pro 13-inch’s holy grail 5.1 mm.

The first OnePlus Pad didn’t exactly break new ground in any one category, though it did show Android tablets had legs. We’ve seen attempts from Goole and its Pixel Tablet, though that, too, wasn’t the pioneer of Android tablets. A better chip and more speakers do seem promising, though, in its effort to be everything to everyone, we’ll need to see if it manages to stand out in any area.

The OnePlus Pad 2 is now available for preorder. It should be available on the OnePlus website starting July 30 and on Amazon starting August.

 

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