An iPhone X that had been modified to have a USB-C charging instead of the conventional Lightning port has sold on eBay for over $80,000.
Swiss robotics student Ken Pilloner auctioned off the device for $86,001 after deciding that he “just want[ed] an iPhone with USB Type-C on it”, adding that “because everything I own has USB Type-C … it would be pretty neat to convert an iPhone too. Have one charger and one cable to charge everything.”
Pilloner wanted the USB-C port to work as it would if it was officially supported: transfer data, charge the phone, be reversible, and keep all functional components inside the iPhone.
He created a proof-of-concept in May with the intention of miniaturising the USB-C to Lightning cable that is used to charge current iPhones and then attaching a USB-C to USB-C connector at the end.
Pilloner had to go through the USB Type-C specification in order to make his proof-of-concept, and even had to break open a Lightning cable which was “built like a tank” – heating the metallic part of the connector to see what was under the Lightning jack. Eventually, Pilloner reverse-engineered a Chinese knock-off Lightning cable to make the device work.
Future models of the mod will improve the iPhone’s fast-charging, waterproofing, and support for accessories, with the design open-sourced so that other engineers can also improve on his foundations.
However, Pilloner warns that any user of the device should not take it apart or update the operating system, as doing so could risk breaking the device.
The desire for a USB-C iPhone is one that might come to fruition with new legislation via the European Union, which would want every phone to have the same charger.
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for the European Commission’s Europe Fit for the Digital Age strategy, said companies failed to reduce waste by making consumers buy unnecessarily different chargers.
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” she said in a statement last September.
“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”
Apple, the most prominent company not to switch to USB-C, has claimed that doing so would reduce innovation in the market.