USB C vs Lightning: What’re The Differences?

When it comes to USB C vs Lightning cables, you may be unsure what exactly are them.

Lightning and USB-C are some of the smartphone charging, connectivity, and communication cables available on the hardware market. The clear distinction between these cables is that USB-C is used on various portable devices that support USB, unlike Lightning, which can only work on some Apple devices and iPhones. Although they look somewhat similar, they are not the same, and some other characteristics set them apart.

In October 2021, the EC (European Commission) declared USB-C to be the basic port for mobile and electronic devices. This is to avert the dissatisfaction that consumers experience and also to curb e-waste.

Yet, Apple corporation, whose devices (iPhones and others) use Lightning port, ignored the EC’s declaration.

USB C vs Lightning

USB-C is widely used by many portable and mobile device users and is acknowledged as the prevailing model for transferring and charging devices. Lightning cables have been used with Apple products since 2012, except for the iPad Pro, which came with USB-C in its third generation in 2018.

Various manufacturers have settled with the USB-C after using various USB ports, while the iPhone has stuck with the Lightning cable since 2012.

Besides its uniqueness, the USB-C is better in every conceivable way than Lightning, its biggest advantage being the development of an advanced connector so long after Lightning.


The USB-C is a standard cable for charging, communicating, and transmitting data, making it easier to use than Apple’s Lightning cable.

The development of this product came from the USB-IF and is presently in use by various companies worldwide, with Dell, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and HP among the companies that use this product.

As a result of its popularity, USB-C was adopted by computer manufacturers because it can transfer data more quickly. In addition, many Android phones use USB-C as a charger, although Apple was exempt, but later introduced this charger type with their new iPad Mini6 and iPad9.

The USB-C has the following features:

  • Audio support
  • Laptop and monitor power
  • 40 Gbps data transfer
  • Device charging
  • Mobile high definition
  • Display port
  • HDMI


  • Supports USB 2.0 and 3.0
  • Faster data speeds up to 5gigabits with the USB3.0
  • Compatible with mobile devices
  • Over ten times faster than USB2.0
  • Cost-effective


  • May fry your PC
  • Short length


In Apple portable devices and gadgets, the Lightning cable is a short connecting cable used to connect, transfer, and charge devices.

This cable debuted in 2012, following the release of the iPhone 5 and then, subsequently, the iPad 4. Lightning is still the most common connector used to charge and connect both devices to other gadgets, like laptops, while certain products, like the iPad Pro of 2018, might utilize USB-C as its primary connector rather than Lightning.

The Lightning connector is compact, has a thin adapter, and a normal USB-A adapter, respectively, on both ends. This connector is reversible and is tinier than the 30 pins it replaced.

Some of its features are as follows:

  • Transmits power
  • Transmission of digital information
  • headphone-Lightning adapter
  • HDMI
  • Lightning-USB Camera
  • Lightning-headphone jack
  • lightning-VGA


  • Compatible with 1Phone 4 down to iPod nano 7th generation
  • Double-faced plug
  • 25-35 transmission speed
  • Compatible with audio and video signal output
  • Over 2 Amps current


  • Slow data transmission and charging speed
  • Has a fragile skin and expensive
  • Does not support analog signal output

Similarities Between USB-C and Lightning

usb c vs lightning

As we mentioned earlier, there are quite some differences between the USB-C and Lightning connectors. But they also have significant similarities.

Both connectors are nearly identical when it comes to easy usage and longevity.

Both connectors are reversible, making it easy to insert them into your gadgets without checking the correct position to fix them. They also feature semiconductors that help ensure compatibility and control power supply for stable energy and data transmission.

Differences Between USB-C and Lightning


Although it is not an official worldwide standard, USB-3 is supported by most newer devices, including Windows PCs and Android smartphones. Even the new Apple Mac laptops come with Thunderbolt/USB-3 hybrid connectors. Next-generation consoles also support USB-C, such as the Xbox X series, Nintendo Switch, and PS5.

Lightning, on its own, has limited compatibility because it is proprietary to Apple devices. All iPads and iPhones launched in 2012, excluding the 3rd gen iPad Pro and beyond, have a Lightning connector. You will need a connector with a Lightning cord to charge or connect your iPad or iPhone to another device.

Power Supply

USB-C has a greater power supply speed than Lightning cable, and it charges quicker around the same frequency. USB-C has a power rating of 3A with a compatibility of about 5A, while Lightning has a current rating of 2.4A. Because of this difference, USB-C is a better alternative for rapid charging because it incorporates the USB fast charging quality.

Since standard Lightning connectors do not charge fast, Apple provides USB-C Lightning connectors with most of its products. Within 30 minutes, you can quickly charge your iPhone battery to about 50percent using a 20W or greater power adapter.

USB-C can support USB4, which is the fastest and most recent USB spec. Consequently, USB-C connectors may now carry data at extremely high speeds of 40Gbps. On the other hand, lightning cords are substantially slower and convey data at USB 2.0 speeds of 480Mbps.

One complicating factor is that Apple does not publish all details for its direct technology. Thus it is uncertain what the exact maximum transmission rate of Lightning is. However, Apple has not provided a standard update since the release of Lightning, indicating that its performance has somewhat evolved since 2012. This has advantages, and cables made in 2012 can work with modern iPhones.


1.   What is the difference between USB-C and USB-A?

As opposed to USB-A which supported only 2.5 watts and 5 volts, USB-C is now capable of 100 watts and 20 volts much easier to power larger devices.

2.   Which is faster between USB-C and Lightning?

The lightning cable transfers data at USB 2.0 rates of 480Mbps, while USB-C cables offer speeds up to 40Gbps.

Brett Jones
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