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Lightning (connector)

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Title: Lightning (connector)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Dock connector, IPhone 5, IPad Mini (1st generation), IPad (4th generation), IPad Mini
Collection: Apple Inc. Hardware, Computer Buses, Products Introduced in 2012
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Lightning (connector)

Lightning Connector

Top down view of a Lightning cable, showing the eight-pin connector
Type Data and power connector
Designer Apple Inc.
Produced 2012 (introduced)
Superseded 30-pin dock connector
Pins 8
Pin out
Receptacle View
Pin 1 GND ground
Pin 2 L0p lane 0 positive
Pin 3 L0n lane 0 negative
Pin 4 ID0 identification/control 0
Pin 5 PWR power (charger or battery)
Pin 6 L1n lane 1 negative
Pin 7 L1p lane 1 positive
Pin 8 ID1 identification/control 1
Two differential pair lanes (L0p/n and L1p/n) may swap in IC of device connector (lanes don't swap if accessory identification chip connect to ID0 pin)

Lightning is a proprietary computer bus and power connector created by Apple Inc. to replace its previous proprietary 30-pin dock connector, used to connect Apple mobile devices like iPhones, iPads and iPods to host computers, external monitors, cameras, USB battery chargers and other peripherals. Using eight pins instead of thirty, Lightning is significantly more compact than the 30-pin dock connector and can be inserted with either side facing up. However, it is incompatible with cables and peripherals designed for its predecessor, unless used with an adapter. It was introduced in 2012 and as of November 2014 is used by all Apple mobile devices.


  • History 1
  • Technology 2
  • Comparisons with Micro-USB 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6


The Lightning connector was introduced on September 12, 2012 [1] as a replacement for the 30-pin dock connector for all new hardware that was announced at the same event. The first compatible devices were the iPhone 5, iPod Touch (5th generation), and the iPod Nano (7th generation).[2] The iPad (4th generation) and the iPad Mini (1st generation) were added as Lightning devices in October 2012.[3][4] On September 20, 2013 Apple released the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. On October 22, 2013, Apple released the iPad Mini with Retina Display and the iPad Air. On September 19, 2014 Apple released the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

On November 25, 2012, Apple acquired the “Lightning” trademark in Europe from Harley-Davidson, which had broad coverage for the mark and retains rights to use it.[5]


Lightning is an eight-pin connector which carries a digital signal. It is non-directional and can be inserted into the device with either side facing up or down. Apple offers various adapters between the Lightning and other interfaces such as Lightning to Apple proprietary 30 pin, Lightning to universal serial bus (USB) as well as accessories to interface with high-definition televisions, VGA monitors, Secure Digital (SD) cards and SD card reader. The Lightning to 30-pin adapter supports only a limited subset of the available 30 pin signals: USB data, USB charging, and analog audio output. Official Lightning connectors contain an authentication chip that makes it difficult for third-party manufacturers to produce compatible accessories without being approved by Apple.[6]

Apple Lightning to USB Cable (MD818)

Comparisons with Micro-USB

Apple has not publicly discussed micro-USB, but industry observers believe Lightning was used for the following advantages:

  • Accessibility The ability of a Lightning plug to be inserted in either direction reduces wear from attempts to insert the plug upside down, and offers user convenience.[7][8]
  • Power capacity Lightning improves on Micro-USB's (before USB 3.0) limit of 9 watts, allowing at least 12 watts to accommodate the iPad.[9]
  • Bidirectionality The Lightning port can either charge a device, or allow the device to power accessories. The optional supplement USB On-The-Go allows USB devices to do this.[10]
  • Flexibility The Lightning port can reassign lanes from digital to analog allowing, for example, analogue audio to be available from the iPhone dock.

In December, 2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced a new USB Type-C specification, "expected to be published by the middle of 2014"[11][12] As listed by the Promoter Group, the key characteristics of USB Type-C are similar to many Lightning features, including power capacity and reversibility. [13]

See also


  1. ^ Pollicino, Joe (September 12, 2012). "Apple's September 12th event roundup: iPhone 5, new iPods, iOS 6, Lightning and everything else".  
  2. ^ Dillet, Romain (September 12, 2012). "The iPhone 5 Comes With The New "Lightning" Connector".  
  3. ^ Schultz, Marianne (October 23, 2012). "Apple Announces Fourth-Generation iPad with Lightning Connector, New A6X Chip".  
  4. ^ "iPad mini Technical Specifications".  
  5. ^ Goldman, David (November 26, 2012). "Apple bought Lightning trademark from Harley-Davidson".  
  6. ^ Foresman, Chris (October 3, 2012). "Apple revising MFi program to limit third-party Lightning accessories". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hardware comparison: Lightning connector vs MicroUSB connector". 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  8. ^ "Engineer explains why Apple went with Lightning instead of Micro USB". 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  9. ^ "Battery Charging Specification, Revision 1.2". USB Implementers Forum, Inc. December 2010. 
  10. ^ "c|net: Clever adapter connects USB accessories to your Android device"
  11. ^ "New USB Type-C connector is smaller, reversible, supports USB 3.1". 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  12. ^ "With new USB connector, no more wrong-way-up cables". 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  13. ^ "Next Generation USB Connection Definition Underway". 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 

Further reading

  • Wingfield, Nick & Chen, Brian X. (May 5, 2013). "Accessories No Longer Tethered to Apple".  
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