- The new iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models use USB-C, but they are limited to USB 2.0 speeds, providing little technical benefit compared to earlier models with the Lightning connector.
- The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, however, offer USB 3.0 capabilities and a faster data transfer rate of 10 Gbps, making them better options for users who need higher speeds for tasks like RAW photo shooting or 4K video recording.
- The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max do not come with a USB 3.0 cable, so users will need to purchase a separate cable that supports 10 Gbps data transfer rates to take full advantage of the upgraded USB-C port.
With the launch of iPhone 15, Apple is officially phasing out its Lightning connector in favor of USB-C. This change brings a new level of convenience to the iPhone, but more importantly, it opens the door to advanced data transfer and charging capabilities. There’s just one problem: Apple isn’t taking full advantage of the USB-C standard. Those who purchase the iPhone 15 or 15 Plus won’t see any groundbreaking technical benefits from USB-C, while tech-savvy iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max buyers are forced to go shopping for an additional accessory—a suitable USB cable.
The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus Are Stuck with USB 2.0 Speeds
Like the USB-C iPad that Apple launched in 2022, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus rely on the old USB 2.0 specification. These phones are limited to a maximum 480 Mbps data transfer rate—the same speed that we endured on Lightning-equipped iPhones.Apple is always tight-lipped about charging speed, but its technical specifications page states that the iPhone 15 can achieve “up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20-watt adapter or higher.” The iPhone 14, which charges at a maximum of 20 watts in most third-party tests, has the same statement on its spec sheet, meaning that the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus may be limited to 20-watt charging.In other words, the USB-C connector on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus is little more than a quality-of-life upgrade. The only notable feature provided by this connector is DisplayPort Alt Mode, which allows you to play 4K 60Hz video from the iPhone on a larger computer monitor or TV. Apple suggests that you use its USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter when connecting the iPhone 15 to a monitor or TV, as this adapter converts USB-C video to HDMI. But if you’re connecting the iPhone 15 to a monitor with USB-C video capabilities, you can simply use a USB-C cable that supports DP Alt Mode.Limiting the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus to USB 2.0 speeds was an intentional decision, obviously. Apple probably hopes that this limitation will help differentiate the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus from their “Pro” counterparts, which offer proper USB 3.0 speeds. After all, Apple loves to upsell!
For USB 3.0 Speeds, Buy the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max
Unlike the standard iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max offer USB 3.0 capabilities (although Apple may be using USB 3.1 Gen 2, judging by the specs). These phones pack a 10 Gbps data transfer rate when paired with an equally powerful USB-C cable, meaning that they’re the best option for customers who regularly shoot RAW photos or 4K videos. Despite the use of a Thunderbolt cable in some press images, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max do not support the Thunderbolt 3 standard.Charging speed for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max is unknown. However, a peek at the technical specifications reveals the same notice that’s present on the standard iPhone 15’s spec sheet—”up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20-watt adapter or higher.” The old iPhone 14 Pro can pull 27 watts in third-party tests, so there’s a decent chance that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max share this limitation (though rumors suggest an upgrade to 35-watt charging).And naturally, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max offer the same DisplayPort Alt Mode capabilities that are present in the basic iPhone 15. You can beam 4K 60 Hz video from the iPhone Pro to a suitable monitor or TV.But, for whatever reason, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max don’t come with a USB 3.0 cable. Instead, they’re bundled with a USB 2.0 cable, which places a 480 Mbps bottleneck on data transfers. If you want to take advantage of the iPhone 15 Pro’s upgraded USB-C port, you need to buy a USB-C cable that supports a 10 Gbps data transfer rate. Apple’s technical specifications make no mention of MFi and simply state that a “USB 3.0 cable with 10 Gbps speed [is] required” for 10 Gbps speeds, so it’s safe to assume that most USB 3.1 Gen 2 cables will get the job done.
Anker USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Cable (3ft)
Enjoy transfer speeds up to 10Gbps and DisplayPort capabilities with Anker’s USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 cable. It also supports charging speeds up to 100 watts, so it’s perfect for charging smartphones, tablets, and laptops.