By September 11, 2012

Inside The iPhone 5 “Smart” Cable


There's been a lot of speculation regarding the new 9-pin connector that's rumored to be part of the new iPhone, iPods, and iPads.

Just for fun, I'm going to go out and stake my claims as to what's true, and what's not. 

1) Nine pin connector? True. Or, rather, an eight-pin connector, with the large enternal shield the 9th "ground" pin. So, nine connections, total.

2) Reversible? True. Apple is about redesigning and streamlining the user experience. No more trying to plug in the cable, only to find that half the time it's backwards.

3) Hi-Speed USB 3.0? True. Apple is redesigning their iconic connector after a decade of use. Do you really think a new cable designed to replace the curent version would be tied to USB 2.0 speeds? It will support USB 2.0, however.

4) Thunderbolt? No. Or at least, not yet.

But remember how Thunderbolt cables are "chipped" so that in the future optical cables and connectors would still be compatible with existing "wired" cables and connections? The same type of thing can and will be done here.

Future devices will be Thunderbolt capable, through the same identical connector.

5) Audio/video? Yes and no. You'll certainly have USB audio, but legacy audio support will require one of Apple's magic 30-pin adaptors. The future is audio/video streaming via AirPlay and low-power Bluetooth 4.0.

I will hedge the last one, and say that Apple could use the same kind of smart cable signaling I discussed for Thunderbolt compatibility to tell the device to send out line audio and video to the proper dock, but again, I see that probability as extremely low. Again, the future is wireless.

Heck, one has only to look at the external speaker market to realize that everyone is going Bluetooth, as that gives you iOS, Android and Windows 8 phones and tablet support.

6) MagSafe? No. The cable is held is place by a little spring-loaded sphere in the female connector that snaps into a little divot on the side on the male plug, offering positive, audible feedback that the cable is properly seated.

So what do you think? On base or off? Check back tomorrow after the announcement and we'll see how well I did.


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