Here's Why Apple Went With That Tiny New Connector Instead Of USB

iPhone 5 photos 17

Photo: Apple

Apple confused and annoyed many potential iPhone 5 buyers this week when it announced that the gadgets will come with a new kind of power cord that won’t be compatible with the old ones.(Apple will sell an accessory that will allow you to use your old cords, but it will cost $29).

The reason Apple went with the new cord is that the old one took up too much room on the device. To achieve the remarkable miniaturization that makes the iPhone 5 so light and thin, Apple needed every available micron.

Apple’s cord choice also confused some tech experts, who wondered why, if Apple was going to change cords, it wouldn’t just go with another standard cord called “Micro-USB.”

The answer?

Micro-USB isn’t smart or powerful enough for Apple.

Here’s a summary of how engineer Rainer Brockerhoof explained Apple’s choice to The Loop, an Apple blog:

Apple’s new port supports an 8-pin connection, which is more powerful than Micro-USB.

Brockerhoof explained that the industry-standard Micro-USB plug only has 5 pins, which wouldn’t allow most dock-connector functions to work properly.

The new connector has the ability to carry “audio and serial transmit and receive”—in other words, it doesn’t quite do all the tricks that even Apple’s existing plug can do.

Basically, if Apple had chosen Micro-USB, the port would only be able to charge and sync the device, not transmit video signals or do other advanced functions. 

There would also be issues with charging the iPad, since Micro-USB is relatively low-power. We’re sure Apple is going to introduce its newest connector on future iPads, and the pins on a Micro-USB port are just too small. Micro-USB also isn’t powerful enough to produce the strong power current that the iPad requires.

Don’t Miss: 8 Things The iPhone 5 Still Can’t Do >

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