USB-C iPhone hack made real

Chris Burns - Oct 11, 2021, 1:33pm CDT
USB-C iPhone hack made real

So you’re disappointed with the fact that Apple continues to use their own Lightning port on the iPhone here in 2021. You’re looking for a way to continue using your iPhone, but also have the… luxury(?) of using USB-C cords whenever you like. A man by the name of Ken Pillonel wanted to use USB-C with his iPhone too – so he went wild with the hacking and the modding.

Instead of buying a Lightning-to-USB-C dongle, like most USB-C iPhone users are likely to do, Pillonel decided to take things up a notch. Instead of just buying an off-the-shelf option, Pillonel opened up the parts. He opened up his iPhone, he opened up his USB-C cables, he opened up his Lightning cables.

Pillonel opened up everything, so far as he was able. Once he’d gotten a peek at the innards of the cables and the phone, he got to work figuring out how it all connected. Using his powers of deduction and inspired reverse engineering skill, Pillonel discovered a way to connect an iPhone to a USB-C port.

Not just with a dongle, not just with a set of stacked plugs, but with soldered bits and pieces. It was back in May of 2021 that Pillonel started releasing documentation of his newly modified USB-C iPhone. Here in October (of the same year), Pillonel has a working prototype.

Not only is this a working prototype, it’s sealed. It has all the components it needs to work with basic USB-C power and data, and it looks surprisingly normal – as in natural, like it’s supposed to be engineered in this way.

Now, it’s never really been a question of IF a USB-C port could fit in an iPhone. There have been smartphones as thin and thinner than the thinnest iPhone that have been released with USB-C ports. Instead, it’s more the feat of DIY at-home engineering that’s the interesting bit here.

Bypassing the iron will of the sealed smartphone and modifying its hardware is like figuring out how to sneak Pokemon cards in your backpack to school. It’s not so much that it’s impossible to do, or that it’s particularly necessary. The importance here is in the skills one attains in learning by doing, and in inspiring others to try things they might not have otherwise thought possible.


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