There are many reasons for poking fun at Apple.
The MacBook Pro notch. Their inherently stupid charging mechanism for the Magic Mouse. Referring to the material used to construct the iPhone 5C as “unapologetically plastic”. Suggesting that it required “courage” to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone.
Oh, and then there was the butterfly keyboard. That didn’t go down too well, did it?
They have done and said some very silly things, but none of the aforementioned David Brent moments come even close to my biggest gripe with Apple.
Where’s that damn cable…
I own both AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. The former are my go-to headphones for working out, listening to podcasts, commuting, cooking, faffing about in the studio, and tuning into YouTube videos on the sofa when the TV is otherwise engaged.
I absolutely love them – they’re easily the most magical, useful device Apple has created in the last few years.
AirPods Max are an indulgence. They’re stupidly priced (although if you shop around, the price is getting slightly less stupid the closer we get to Christmas), and come with quite possibly the most ridiculous ‘case’ I’ve ever seen. Alas, they sound great, offer similar Apple Magic to AirPods Pro, and feature some of Apple’s best industrial design.
There’s just one huge issue with both of these headphones, and it comes close to ruining the ownership experience.
They are always running out of charge, and it relates entirely to Apple’s unwavering, nonsensical, absolutely insane loyalty to Lightning.
Why this matters
I talk a lot about batteries during my reviews. This is because it’s the single biggest convenience factor of any modern device.
We think about battery performance all the time. Whether it’s the desire to get through a full day’s travel on a single charge of your iPhone, or the realisation that you’ll have to delay your morning run while your headphones recharge, batteries dictate the way we use and rely on tech.
There are three elements of batteries that are essential:
- standby time; and
- charging convenience.
Apple is brilliant at the first two. The in-use battery performance on the new MacBook Pro is genuinely life-changing for my business. The standby time on the brilliant M1 MacBook Air still astonishes me to this day.
However, there’s a reason that the only two Apple devices I own which constantly run out of charge are the aforementioned AirPods. Wireless charging on the AirPods Pro aside, they both rely on Lightning.
I never have a Lightning cable to hand. This is because every other device I own charges via USB-C.
Thanks to every other manufacturer’s desire to make our lives easier, those USB-C cables are ludicrously convenient and there’s always one to hand when I’m in a pickle.
It’s such a simple, obvious solution, too. There is no conceivable reason why AirPods Max shouldn’t charge via USB-C – every other pair of over-the-ear headphones on the market does exactly that. The same goes for AirPods Pro and, yes, the iPhone.
To this day, it annoys me every single time I have to dig out a Lightning cable. More worryingly, it feels archaic and usually results in me giving up entirely and using a different pair of headphones.
That’s not what you want is it, Tim?
Trying to justify their decision
I’ve spent what most normal people would consider far too long trying to justify Apple’s decision to stand by Lightning, and I’ve rounded on a rather simple conclusion.
It’s impossible. There is no justification.
This is illustrated most comically with the iPhone 13 Pro’s ability to shoot video in ProRes. The feature is incredibly impressive and gives hobbyists and professional filmmakers a huge amount of control during post-processing. But if you shoot 4K ProRes, you’ll chew up 8GB for every minute filmed.
This will result in some pretty big files. But beyond AirDrop (which, in my experience, has never been particularly reliable for large files), you’re stuck with Lightning as the only means to transfer your footage to a Mac for editing. Which will take roughly 8,298 years for a 10 minute ProRes clip.
I – and I’m sure every other professional video creator – would rather connect my teeth to the mains than wait for Lightning to do its thing.
Even the European Union realises how stupid Lightning is. In a bid to reduce waste and encourage consumers to re-use existing chargers, the EU wants all smartphone manufacturers to provide USB-C charging.
There is no technical reason for Lightning. There are no design constraints it places on device manufacturing. There is literally no justification for Apple holding onto this slow, inconvenient, uncommon charging and data port, and I’ve totally had enough of it.
Am I alone in this?