Looking at today’s news I came across an article on iLounge that claims the next Gen iPhone will come with an 8 Pin connector. While 8 Pins certainly is elegant, Apple would have to be pretty inventive, or remove a few features to pull it off.
Apple currently needs the following pins on the dock connector to interface with the outside world:
I based this list roughly from a pinout diagram from pinouts.ru and omitted firewire functionality.+5VDC:- Obviously for providing charge and interfacing with USB GND : Charge and USB Audio/Video GND: Common return for Audio Right, Audio Left, and Video Line out Right +: Audio Output for Right Line out Left+ : Audio Output for Left Line in Right + : Audio Input for Right Line in Left+: Audio Input for Left Serial TX : Serial Communication transmit Serial RX: Serial Communication receive USB Data+: Needed for USB Communication USB Data-: Needed for USB Communication Accessory Indicator: Different Resistances used to indicate device connected Audio_switch: If connected to ground iPhone send audio through pins 3 and 4 instead of speaker 3.3v: for supplying power to accessories
So if you were counting, You will realize that there are 14 Pins here. This is not taking into consideration extra needed grounds, which would most likely be needed. Assuming everything would be tied to the same ground, Apple would need to remove 6 pins here to make an 8 Pin connector work.
Lets See what we could possibly eliminate:
-4 Pins : By moving the headphone connector to the bottom of the iPhone, devices could use the headphone port for audio out and mic input. Although the current headphone jack only provides mono mic input, it’s possible they may create a different headphone jack for stereo. Then Apple could remove 4 connections(Left and Right input/output audio)
-2 Pins: By removing Serial Communication and going solely to USB, Apple could remove an additional 2 pins. Currently Serial communication is fairly locked down and not too useful to consumers.
-1 Pin: the audio switch could probably be removed if the headphone jack was used instead.
-1 Pin : Apple could choose not to supply external power anymore.
If apple wanted to keep this same pin count and add thunderbolt, they could probably get by with using the Accessory Indication to switch modes between USB and Thunderbolt and use the same pins for each.
The other interesting thought is that Apple could completely remove all audio from the connector and rely on USB transmission to send out Audio, Video, and interfacing signals. I don’t think this would be a bit hit among third party audio device makers, but it could be viable.
While an 8-Pin connector is certainly doable, I think it is a bit of a stretch. The previously rumored 16-19 Pin connector could handle all of the current functionality and leave room for future technologies. If Apple does decide to change the connector they would probably not sacrifice so much of the functionality. I also imagine Apple would provide an adapter cable to convert one connector to the new type of connector. For these reasons, I am banking on the 16-19 Pin Connector.Joe Hoffman