Apple’s New iPhones Have A Nasty Surprise

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There are plenty of reasons to be excited by Apple AAPL +1.57%’s all-new iPhones, not least their sizeable price cuts. But a new leak reveals a hidden charge few will have expected to pay…

‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.

In what can only be described as a move designed to wring cash from the pockets of new iPhone owners, acclaimed tech site Macotakara reports Apple will make fast charging incompatible with all existing third-party chargers.

Citing conversions with “multiple suppliers”, Macotakara says Apple has added support for ‘C-AUTH’ to its new iPhones’ charging specification. C-AUTH stands for ‘USB Type-C Authentication’ and means Apple will introduce a security check that stops fast charging from third party chargers and cables unless they have been specifically licenced by Apple.

C-AUTH in itself is not bad. It is used by other companies and stops dangerous third-party cables from damaging your phone – but predictably Apple has taken things a step further.

Macotakara states that Apple modified the current C-AUTH standard which could restrict fast chargers of 18 watts or more down to 5 watts to performance.

Apple will use C-AUTH to drop all third-party chargers to just 2.5W, turning them all into slow chargers and the question needs to be asked whether Apple will even offer licenses to any third party fast chargers?

After all, almost two years on Apple has yet to grant any third parties access to the proprietary Bluetooth W1 chip used to fast connect its AirPods and Beats wireless earphones and headphones.

Leaked iPhone fast charger (EU edition)

CHARGER LAB

The upside to all of this is, for the first time, Apple will almost certainly bundle an 18W fast charger with its new iPhones. 

This sees the company catch up with what has been common practice on rival phones for generations, but remains very welcome nonetheless.

If you need a second fast charger, however, the enforcement of C-AUTH is likely to see things get expensive quickly. While (reliable) third-party fast chargers are not expensive, currently Apple asks a jaw-dropping $49 for its entry-level fast charger and this doesn’t include a cable. 

The cable will cost you an additional $19 for 1 metre, or $35 for 2m. Yes, that’s $68 to $84 per additional fast charger.

For me personally, such a move would not be a deal breaker. 

The second generation iPhone X (details), massive iPhone X Plus (details) and budget marvel ‘iPhone 9’ (details) have enough plus points to overcome such an irritation – even with their quirks.

That said, such heavy-handed control is another example of Apple at its worst when we all know the company is capable of so much better.