The first USB-C iPhone isn’t made by Apple

At some point in the future, Apple’s iPhone may be dragged, kicking and screaming, into joining the rest of the world in using USB-C for charging by changes in the law. But while legislators carry on moving at their glacial pace, one enterprising young student has shown Apple that the whole process needn’t be that painful.

Robotics engineering student Ken Pillonel has given a merifully out-of-warranty iPhone X the ultimate upgrade: a USB-C port that can be used for both charging and data transfer.

The exact ‘hows’ aren’t actually answered in the video, and if your question is actually of the ‘why’ variety then you’re probably on the wrong YouTube channel. But judging by the preview of a full explainer video that Pillonel is currently editing, it looks like only the most dedicated and steady handed need apply.

What we can assume, judging from an earlier blog post outlining Pillonel’s planned steps, is that the process involved reverse engineering Apple’s custom C94 connector and creating a flexible PCB design which somehow fits inside the iPhone’s meticulously lined up internals. Which is no mean feat considering how bulky an early prototype looked — suffice it to say, said early design wouldn’t fit inside a Nokia 3310, let alone a 2010s smartphone. 

It’s likely to be an extremely fiddly process, in other words. And considering Pillonel is in the process of working on a master’s degree in robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL, it could be well beyond the capability of regular mortals without the right tools. You probably don’t want to attempt it with an electric drill and a tube of Uhu glue.

If you do attempt it and it goes horribly wrong, don’t even think about going running to Apple for help. Because they most certainly won’t — unless by “help” you mean sell you an iPhone 13 instead. 

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