Adapters and Dongles

USB-C cable shopping for an iPad or Thunderbolt 3 Mac is still a nightmare for consumers

USB-C is the future of computer connectivity, but in the two years we've been using it there remains a great deal of confusion over USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, and what any given cable with USB-C connectors is capable of. AppleInsider breaks it all down again, makes some specific cable recommendations, and talks about why we think it isn't the last time we're going to have this conversation.

It used to be that I could be assured that any pair of headphones I purchased could be plugged into any gadget that produced audio. I could plug my headphones with a 3.5 mm jack into any Mac, iPad, iPhone or iPod. They also worked well with my TV or audio gear for when I wanted to listen to audio without disturbing the rest of the house.

In modern times, this ease of using is disappearing. If I own an iPhone with a Lightning port and headphones with a 3.5 mm connector, I need a Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter to listen to music.

If I own an iPad or MacBook with USB-C port and headphones with a 3.5 mm connector, I need a USB-C to 3.5 mm adapter to listen to music.

If I own USB-C headphones I and I want to use them with an iPhone; I’ll need a USB-C to Lightning adapter.

The problem isn’t solved by buying one fo the limited set of headphones that have USB-C or Lightning connectors. I’ll need an adapter to connector those to non-Apple devices. I may also need an adapter if I want to connect USB-C headphones to an iPhone or if I want to connect headphones with a Lightning connector to a MacBook.

If I own an iPad, iPhone and MacBook I’ll need to make my headphone purchases very carefully so that I can be assured I have adapters to cover all devices.

However, given that Apple MacBooks and the new iPad Pro have USB-C ports, I suspect that Apple may soon replace the connector on the iPhone. In which case, it might be best to pass on upgrading my tech until that happens.

That means changing the battery in my iPhone 7 instead of upgrading to the iPhone XS. Hopefully, Apple will dump the Lightning port before the next OS upgrade renders my phone obsolete.

In the meantime, I'll continue to use USB-A to Lightning adapters, and Lightning to 3.5 mm adapters, and USB-A to USB-C adapters to connect my gear.

Author: Khürt Williams

Khürt is a human, an information security pro, a casual photographer, a nature lover, and a lifelong learner who drinks beer.

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