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Rumors of Lightning’s death are just slightly exaggerated

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Rumors of Lightning’s death are just slightly exaggerated

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This week, Apple confirmed longstanding rumors that it was finally abandoning the Lightning connector for USB-C with the debut of its iPhone 15 and 15 Pro phones. The connector’s decade-long run might be over, but that doesn’t mean you need to toss out all your Lightning cables — not yet, anyway.

There are still a number of products in Apple’s vast catalog that haven’t made the switch, and it’s a safe bet that many of them are due for USB-C refreshes in the near future. Here’s a list of everything still using Lightning that we could find new on the company’s online store.

The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID.
Image: Wes Davis / The Verge

The standalone Magic Keyboard has been more or less the same since its launch in 2015, and today, the thin, chiclet-style keyboard is available in four versions. They’re a little expensive, ranging from $99 to $199. The two newest, introduced alongside the 2021 M1 iMac, have Touch ID — one with a numpad and one without — while the other two lack the fingerprint sensor. But crucially, they all charge via a Lightning port on their back side. That could change soon if Apple launches an M3-powered iMac this year. We’ll see.

A prone Magic Mouse.
Image: Wes Davis / The Verge

The $99 Magic Mouse switched from replaceable batteries to rechargeable built-in lithium-ion when the Magic Keyboard came out in 2015. Infamously, Apple made the perplexing decision to stick the Lightning port on its belly, and that has never changed, forcing users to wait or use a different mouse while they flip it over like a helpless turtle to charge it. Like the Magic Keyboard, it’s possible the Magic Mouse could see a redesign soon that incorporates USB-C. Hopefully, Apple will finally put the port somewhere else.

A Magic Trackpad awaiting a USB-C upgrade.
Image: The Verge

Also updated about eight years ago, the Magic Trackpad offers Mac and iPad users a large, glass-topped trackpad. It uses sensors instead of a mechanical button for clicking, supports multitouch gestures, and is a genuinely wonderful trackpad. It’s also not cheap at $149 on Apple’s website. Unlike the Magic Mouse, its Lightning port is mercifully located in the back, but like the Magic Mouse, a new iMac would be the right time to change that to USB-C port instead.

AirPods (second generation)

The second-generation AirPods, perhaps the last of their kind.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple’s second stab at the basic AirPods gave users better wireless connectivity, the ability to summon Siri with their voice, and wireless charging (for an extra 40 bucks). They also started with and continue to have a Lightning port. Apple added USB-C to the AirPods Pro this week, but whether it’ll do the same for the long-in-the-stalk 2019 AirPods is up in the air, seeing as they’ve already been superseded by another generation of the earbuds.

AirPods (third generation)

The AirPods third-generation.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Getting headphones to sit right in everyone’s ears is hard, and Apple seemed to acknowledge that with a third wireless earbud form factor in 2021. The third-gen AirPods have some of the cooler features of the AirPods Pro, and you don’t shove them into your ear canals. They’re priced between the other two models at $169 or $179, depending on whether you want MagSafe (though you can almost always find deals on them). Now the AirPods Pro have two big advantages on them: noise cancellation and a USB-C port.

AirPods Max in their natural environment.
Image: Wes Davis / The Verge

That the lavish and pricey AirPods Max headphones use a Lightning port for charging is fine, but that they require it for wired audio is maddening. Apple’s luxury cans sound fantastic, but Bluetooth just isn’t that reliable for many Macs in my experience. It’s rumored they’ll switch to USB-C next year; hopefully, that comes with some significant improvements (like a 3.5mm audio jack) because they sure could use it — that $549 price tag ain’t doing them any favors these days.

Apple Pencil (first generation)

This charging method makes sense, right?
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

There’s something deeply charming about the fact that instead of a Lightning port, the first Apple Pencil has a Lightning connector that juts out of its head like a dumb hat. You can still buy the first Apple Pencil from the Apple Store — in fact, Apple kind of has to keep selling it, since the 10th-generation iPad doesn’t support the second-gen Apple Pencil. That means this one probably isn’t getting a USB-C refresh; it’ll likely just stick around until Apple goes fully wireless with the Pencil.

iPhone SE (third generation)

Honestly I don’t remember if this is a second-generation or third-generation iPhone SE, but you get the idea.
Photo by Wes Davis / The Verge

Apple’s cheapest smartphone, the $429 iPhone SE, is a decent deal. Since the iPhone 13 Mini was finally, tragically, discontinued yesterday, the SE remains the only truly small phone in the company’s lineup. It still uses Lightning and other throwback Apple features, like Touch ID, a single 12MP rear camera, non-MagSafe wireless charging, and an LCD screen. But its A15 Bionic chip is powerful and just one GPU core shy of the chip in the iPhone 14. A new iPhone SE isn’t expected until 2025, so it may be a minute until this Lightning port disappears.

An iPhone 14.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

For now, the company still sells the 6.1-inch iPhone 13, which is almost identical to the iPhone 14. Both have the A15 Bionic chip, the same cameras, the same screen resolution, and Lightning ports. There are minor differences, like the 14’s satellite SOS feature, but for the most part, you needed a good reason to upgrade if you already had an iPhone 13. Realistically, you’d be hard-pressed to buy the 14 now, given that the iPhone 13 is $100 less at $599. These Lightning ports seem likely to stick around until the two phones slide out of Apple’s lineup over the next two years.

A ninth-generation iPad in all its glory.
Image: Apple

Believe it or not, you can still buy Apple’s ninth-generation iPad. It’s $329; it uses an A13 Bionic chip; it has a Touch ID home button; and it has a 10.2-inch LCD display. Oh, and it has a Lightning port. But you know what? For a lot of people, that’s fine. Heck, I still use my seventh-gen iPad. It might be a little clunky, but it’s lightweight and works fine for reading recipes or scrolling news. I’d be shocked if this one ever gets the USB-C treatment.

Honorable mention: Accessories

I don’t think we need to give you the rundown on each of these, so here’s a list of all the Apple accessories we found that still use Lightning in one way or another.

Is there another obscure Lightning product or accessory Apple sells somewhere in the bowels of its site? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

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