The iPad Pro Has a Next-Generation Lightning Port

Andrew Cunningham, writing last month for Ars Technica:

Our full review of the iPad Pro covers a lot of ground, but there is one small item that escaped our notice. When iFixit tore the device apart, it found a USB 3.0 controller, and Apple has confirmed to us that the new iPad Pro will in fact support USB 3.0 transfer speeds over its Lightning port. USB 3.0 supports theoretical transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps, a little over 10 times faster than USB 2.0’s 480Mbps.

But those faster transfer speeds will cost you. The Lightning cable that ships with the iPad Pro is a standard USB 2.0-speed cable, and you’ll need to purchase USB 3.0 cables separately when they’re released at some undisclosed point in the future.

My old college pal Scott Boone asked me the other day if I could peep into the Lightning port on my iPad Pro review unit and check if it had pins on both the top and bottom inside the port. I looked, and indeed, it does. All previous Lightning ports, including in the new iPhones 6S, only have pins on the bottom.

iFixit, strangely, didn’t take note of this in their teardown. Scott even left a comment on their teardown asking about it:

Starting to see rumor sites picking up on the USB 3.0 thing. iFixit didn’t spend any time on that Lightning port in Step 15. Any chance you could dig deeper and see if the Lightning connector receptacle is now electrically double-sided? That sh/would provide the pin-count needed for USB 3.

I don’t know when we’ll see Apple take advantage of this new Lightning port (the cable that ships with the iPad Pro is still just USB 2), but I think it’s every bit as capable as USB-C. I bet it can handle not just USB 3, but also Thunderbolt and DisplayPort/HDMI 4K.

Friday, 4 December 2015