What are differences between lightning and USB Type-C

2020 is the eighth year of Apple’s adoption of lightning interface. It is also the sixth year of USB Type-C interface’s publication. These two types of the products has been designed to replace the former generation of the interface: Apple’s dock interface and most android phones’ Micro-USB interface. Years of market prevalence has proven them as the optimum successor of the former generation. However, what are the exact differences between these two types of interfaces?

differences between lightning and USB Type-C

The TYPE-C interface is a rotationally symmetrical connector which contains 12 pins on each sides. It can support up to 20V voltage and 5A current. Correspondingly, the lightning has eight pins on each sides which also support random plugging, and the white part is designed to insulate the pins from each other. The outermost metal actually serves as the function of grounding cable, therefore, lightning connector essentially adopted a 9-pin design.

USB Type-C

In charging and data transmission, Type-C is comparatively superior than Apple’s lightning, On the principle of charging communication skills, TYPE-C has a high-power PD charging protocol, which is the reason why Type-C interface can achieve up to 120W fast charging. On the other hand, lightning interface only support the maximum charging power of 18W which may take around two hours to fully charge a iPhone via this interface. This period could be cut into half and even faster for android phones with a Type-C interface. As for data transmission, considering lightning interface still use USB 2.0 protocol which only obtains top speed of 480 Mbit/s, the first generation of Type-C has already adopted USB 3.1 and currently, USB 3.2 is also available in this type of interface which means that Type-C could be theoretically 40times faster than lightning.


The two interfaces also differ in technical principles. Lightning is a custom standard made by Apple. It has a BUILT-IN MFI certification chip which is used to screen out whether the charging cable is authorized by Apple. If a third party manufacturer wants to produce a usable cable, it must be certified by MFI and pay apple for patent certification. Whereas Type-C interface is an open and free-to-use standard that any third-party manufacturers can produce Type-C data cables without paying certain fees.

MFI Certificated Supplier

However, Type-C interface also has its drawbacks, the most important of which are high production cost and security concerns. Due to the open environment of Type-C, they are much more vulnerable from hacker or online attack than Apple’s products who possessed a relatively enclosed system with Apple’s own iOS or accessories. What’s more, although Type-C interface support up to USB3.0 Protocol, it’s an immature technology for cellphone data transmission considering USB 3.0 will disturb 2.4GHz wireless signal which may affect cellphone and other communication tool’s normal work. Thus, except from several high-end model, most android phone will avoid the adoption of USB 3.0 technology.


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