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What the Tech: eBay’s modded iPhone shows both depressing greed, and a pressing need

A modified version of the iPhone X with a USB C charge port is currently being auctioned for tens of thousands of dollars. Sure this farce is comical, but for me it also highlights the need for a change in Apple’s device strategy.

A used pink bath robe, a rare mint snow globe, a Smurf TV tray — these are just some of the many treasures you can buy on eBay, according to the classic parody song by Weird Al Yankovic. Now there’s another curiosity that’s arrived on the infamous online marketplace, and it’s not particularly pretty either.

Claimed the be the “world’s first USB-C iPhone”, the device is a modified iPhone X that permits charging and data transfer via a widely supported USB C port, rather than Apple’s proprietary Lightning input.

It’s undeniably a quirky concept that almost looks a bit surreal to see in action, but the detail that really takes the cake is its current auction price: over $100,000 at the time of writing. Suffice to say, there are far better ways to spend one-tenth of a million bucks than on a knock-off DIY electronics project.

Such bids as these are either borne of excessive egotism or are simply fraudulent time-wasters, but the real interest in such a device does give weight to an important, albeit very well-established, argument: it’s well past time for Apple to introduce USB-C to its iPhone range.

We’d had hopes to see the efficient and near-universal port make its début on the iPhone 13, but our hopes were dashed when the Lightning cable (that is of absolutely no utility outside of Apple’s ecosystem) once again remained there, stubbornly clinging on like a bothersome barnacle to the bow of a boat.

Fortunately, it seems like there is a sense of change in the air (though not thanks to the weird part of eBay). This year’s new MacBook Pro range boasted a far greater range of connection points than its predecessor, even including an SD card reader and an HDMI port, that will make it so much more user-friendly as you go about your daily tasks. The USB-C port is already present on the brand’s laptops and even iPads too, but for now it’s the bestselling smartphones than still hold out against the tide.

Yet even if Apple refuses to change its most popular devices, we could still get our way. A new rule proposed by the European Commission would make a USB-C connection compulsory for every smartphone, in order to cut down on electronic waste. Not only is that another good argument in favour of the switch, that would actually be enforceable against the tech giant, but it would add weight to Apple’s already impressive environmental credentials.

With all the compelling arguments pointing one way, and apparently with punters willing to part with thousands of dollars for the privilege, it is not too much to ask that next year Apple finally releases an iPhone that actually does offer USB-C connectivity and solves these issues at a stroke. Oh, and preferably one that doesn’t cost $100,000.









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