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Definition: Lightning connector


A reversible 8-pin plug and socket for Apple mobile devices (the plug inserts in either orientation). Lightning is one end of the cable, with USB Type A at the other. Introduced in 2012 with the iPhone 5 and new iPods, Lightning superseded the 30-pin dock connector that dates back to 2001. The 30-pin cables and docks were adapted or updated.

Good Bye Lightning on iPads/iPhones
The European Union mandated that USB C become the standard plug and socket on electronic devices by 2024. As a result, iPads switched to Type C in 2018, and iPhones followed in 2023. See USB Type C, iPhone 15 and iPad.

Lightning Has No Analog Support
Lightning is digital, whereas Apple's previous 30-pin interface was both analog and digital. Although adapters let 30-pin cables plug into Lightning sockets, any device requiring analog would not work. For example, some car systems transfer analog audio to the vehicle's sound system. The final death knell to analog audio began with the iPhone 7 when Apple eliminated the 3.5mm earphones jack, a standard since the 1950s (see mini-phone connector).




No Comparison
The 8-pin Lightning (top) takes a lot less space than Apple's earlier 30-pin connector. In addition, there is no wrong way to insert the plug. See reversible plug and Apple dock connector.






Lightning Has Eight Pins
Whereas Lightning has eight pins on both sides of its plug, the Lightning socket has eight pins on one side. This adapter in the electronics section of a Five Below store makes USB Type C devices compatible with iPhones and iPads.