The iPhone 15 family might support Thunderbolt speeds

The entire iPhone 15 family, not just the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, is expected to feature support for high-speed Thunderbolt/USB4 data transfer.

Closeup of a Thunderbolt/USB4 male socket
Thunderbolt and USB-C use the same connector | Image: Marcus Urbenz/Unsplash

The next iPhone is widely expected to ditch Lightning for USB-C to comply with the EU regulation. Newly leaked images of suspected USBC4 parts suggest that at least three models in the iPhone 15 family will feature Thunderbolt speeds, as evidenced by a small Retimer controller chip on suspected components.

The entire iPhone 15 family might support Thunderbolt 3

Of course, adding Thunderbolt to just three new iPhones doesn’t make sense. It’s more likely that the whole iPhone 15 family will enjoy Thunderbolt/USB4’s high-speed data transmission of forty gigabits per second. Earlier rumors claimed that Thunderbolt speeds would be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pros.

Chargerlab explains:

The Retimer chip primarily serves to reconstruct signals and reduce signal jitter. This chip, commonly found in ChargerLAB’s disassembled Thunderbolt/USB4 high-speed devices, improves signal transmission stability for high-bandwidth data ports, enabling longer transmission distances.

With only a month left until Apple’s rumored September 12 event, we’ll soon know details about Apple’s switch to USB-C on the iPhone 15.

Transfer speeds: Lightning vs. USB-C vs. Thunderbolt

By comparison, Apple’s Lightning connector is based on the USB 2.0 protocol, which supports data transfer speeds of up to 480 megabits per second versus 5-10 gigabits per second for the typical USB-C connector.

On the iPad, Apple limits USB-C speeds to the USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocol, which maxes out at ten gigabits per second. The iPad Air, for example, has a USB-C 3.1 port. The tenth-generation iPad has an even slower USB-C 2.0 port. Only the iPad Pros support Thunderbolt 3 and USB4 speeds of up to forty gigabits per second.

Thunderbolt support for advanced video work

For starters, Thunderbolt support would accelerate transfers of ProRes 4K videos shot on your iPhone. More importantly, it could let videographers output live 4K video on an external monitor in real time while recording their footage on an iPhone 15. In April, a leaker known as @analyst941 who has since closed their account, said that the iPhone 15 Pros could support Thunderbolt 3 for video work.

“A new cinematography feature that will allow outputting live 4K video to a monitor while recording,” the leaker reported. “Essentially, you’ll have the phone with all the camera controls, connected to a monitor displaying live 4K camera footage without any controls, in 16:9.”

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