There’s a lot I love about the iPhone, from the seamless blend of hardware and software to the high-performance cameras and well-stocked App Store. But as much as I enjoy Apple phones—and have been using one for all but one year of the product—there is one ingredient that totally drives me up the tree.
Friends, I hate my iPhone’s Lightning port as much as hell.
If you think it’s a mistake to run myself into an annoying rage at the thought of a simple charging port, there may be a brief history of the different iPhones I’ve used. Starting in reverse chronological order, my iPhone 11 Pro Max had a problem charging recently, which required me to initially shake the Lightning cable and then position my phone in such a way that something would press on the cable to hold it in place just so I could get a charge.
Another iPhone is biting the dust
I know what the problem is – there is dirt, dust, or some form of residue in the charging port of the iPhone 11 Pro Max that is preventing the Lightning cable from making a clean connection. I know this because I had the same problem with my last two iPhones.
My original iPhone SE performed like a champ for a few years until its Lightning port constantly seemed to be clogged with dust. The same fate happened to the iPhone 4c before it. In all three cases, each iPhone worked perfectly for two years, give or take, before port problems became persistent and hard to fix.
And there is a solution, although how easy it is depends on your manual dexterity. We’ve got a guide on how to clean your iPhone’s charging port that includes a little more than a tooth pick and a flashlight — you can use the former to carefully remove debris and the latter so you can see what you’re doing with that piece of the Lightning port.
Of course, there’s a third tool you’ll need to successfully charge your iPhone again – the steady hands of a neurosurgeon, as it’s all too easy to inadvertently scrape the charging device inside the Lightning port and cause permanent damage to your iPhone. I know this, because it’s exactly what I did with my iPhone SE. These days, I just head to my local Apple Store and let the pros clean my Lightning port. This repair is more reliable, although certainly not very convenient.
iPhone repair in the future
Buying a case for your phone helps a bit, provided that case comes with a cover for the iPhone port. But it’s not a silver bullet – I outfitted my iPhone SE in such a condition back in the day, and although it worked for a while, that port covering eventually broke off after excessive wear and tear. (This isn’t surprising given that you access the charging port on your phone at least once a day.) In terms of keeping the Lightning port free of dirt, the case seems to prevent the inevitable, at least in my case.
There is an old saying that twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend. Well, we’re now on the iPhone 3 hampered by a malfunctioning Lightning port, so forgive me for thinking that Apple isn’t doing everything it can to keep its charging port working for as long as possible.
I’d like to see the iPhone design change to address what seems to me to be a somewhat persistent problem. That could mean adding a built-in port cover, though I suspect it will meet the same fate as the iPhone SE case I tried to get back into — over time, that’s just another part that could break.
Apple could also try to change the port itself, and at least one rumor about the iPhone 14 indicates that the phone maker can do exactly that. There is a long-running rumor that Apple will abandon the Lightning standard in favor of USB-C, with the iPhone 14 Pro models being the likely recipient of such a move.
But this change seems likely driven by a desire to improve charging speeds and reduce proprietary chargers. I’m not sure that switching to USB-C via Lightning would do much to improve durability. While I haven’t encountered any USB-C port errors on the Android phones I’ve used, it’s also true that I haven’t used these devices as regularly as the iPhones mentioned above. If I’ve been carrying a Pixel in my pocket for a couple of years or so, I’d imagine its charging port would see a fair amount of dust build-up as well.
I think the most likely solution to the charging port issue is to get rid of the ports completely. (“There can be no issues with ports if there are no ports,” he said, while posting the GIF. It means you can use it with any of the best wireless chargers for your phone (although Apple really wants to stick with MagSafe accessories, I’m sure ).
A look at the iPhone’s Lightning port
In any case, the durability of the iPhone’s charging port is something Apple will need to address, especially now that people have kept their phones for more than two years. Charging your phone is something you do every day, and it’s crucial that phone makers make sure that this process works as reliably as possible for as long as possible.