November 28, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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The world's first iPhone with a USB Type-C port.  It was sold for €75,000

The world’s first iPhone with a USB Type-C port. It was sold for €75,000

The smartphone with the new connector supports both charging and data transfer.

  • Enthusiasts have created the first iPhone with a USB Type-C connector.
  • He made the modification specifically on the iPhone X.
  • The device is charged with a “C” connector and also works for data transmission, but it has many shortcomings.
  • The modified piece was auctioned by the author of the project for $86,001, which is more than 75,000 euros.

iPhones with a USB Type-C connector are still an unheard of dream for many enthusiasts. This is despite the fact that Apple commonly uses this connector in other products. That’s why, until recently, anonymous YouTuber Ken Bellonel, performing under the pseudonym Kenny Pi, Event To manufacture this equipment themselves.

How do inform Web The Verge, not only successful, but even a functional prototype auction for $86,001. In terms of this, this represents more than 75,000 euros. The sold device can be charged via the USB Type-C port as well as data transfer. After the auction, the author does all his work Posted on GitHube.

Edited iPhone X.

Ken Billonel describe it The complete cycle of your project in one brief video. At first he rethought his plans and began to test the feasibility of the “dirty” solution. For this, he bought the “cheapest iPhone he could find”, the iPhone X.

Participation test where an enthusiast tested the feasibility of his idea.

Source: Kenn Pillonel, Kenny Pi on YouTube, Editorial

In practice, he bought an official cable with a Lightning connector on one end and USB Type C on the other. I also needed an adapter with USB Type-C (“female”) sockets on both ends. This post was actually an extended example of what he ultimately wanted to achieve.

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As a result, he detected the first problem almost immediately. The USB Type C port on the end of the adapter was working, but only when inserted in one specific direction. It was not reversible, and when it was connected to the reverse, the iPhone would no longer charge.

During a more detailed study of the USB specifications, enthusiasts came up with a simple solution – just add a 5.1 kOhm resistor to one of the pins. Reverse charging works regardless of which side the USB Type C connector is plugged into. The maximum charge power in one direction of the conductor (8 W) has been shown to be negative. However, since the iPhone X still does not support any additional fast charging, the author of the project decided to accept this shortcoming.

Lots of reverse engineering

Once full sharing worked in principle, the most difficult part was waiting for YouTubers: minimizing. He needed to compress the entire electrical connection of the cable and adapter directly into the smartphone so that he could install a USB Type-C instead of the internal Lightning connector.

So a lot of work was followed with the multimeter, direct research and reverse engineering. The biggest challenge was the official telegram from Apple. Includes a C94-branded connector supplied by the cable manufacturer directly to Apple. This is a main circuit that provides conversion from a Lightning port to a USB Type C port.

The C94 printed circuit board is Apple’s protected intellectual property and you won’t find a description of its operation or its wiring diagram anywhere on the Internet. The physical product is also somewhat protected from reverse engineering. As Ken Bellonel himself admitted, this was of great help to innovative Chinese producers. Their mimic did not have such physical protection, and therefore he could disassemble and examine them relatively easily, only with the help of a microscope stand.

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Design his own flexible flat

When he discovered exactly the electrical wiring and components used to wiring the entire transformer, he created a draft of the resulting wiring diagram. To check its functionality, he had an expanded and cheaper prototype of a printed circuit board (PCB) designed for scale. It was actually a single, complete circuit, with a Lightning connector on one end and a USB Type-C array on the other.

When he tested and checked everything, he built a new PCB. This time, he has already adapted the printed circuit board to the free space inside the phone and how it will be connected there. He chose a flexible circuit that could bend around the internal components to take full advantage of the available space.

Finally, he needed to invent a holder for the new USB Type C connector inside the phone and also enlarge the hole in the body of the smartphone itself, through which the cable would be attached. Help with these tasks with a CNC machine and a 3D printer. Even this did not go quite smoothly and had to solve, for example, attaching the iPhone body made of fragile glass or precisely positioning the punch, which complicated the rounded edges.

Selling by public auction for 75,000

In the end, it all worked out, and Ken Bellonel created the first publicly known prototype of the iPhone with a USB Type-C connector. As mentioned in the introduction, the smartphone charges and transfers data as well.

And as part of the auction, which ended with more than 75 thousand euros, the enthusiast was watching the future owner of many things. For example, warn against updating the software, disassembling the phone or using it on a daily basis. There is a risk that the device may stop working completely.

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But the talented Swiss did not end up with similar projects. He sees full support for fast charging, water resistance of the new connector and support for all kinds of accessories designed for USB Type C as a challenge for the future. He would also like to try converting other Apple products, such as AirPods, into a universal connector.

Finally, Ken Bellonel isn’t the only one who has attempted similar improvements on the iPhone. Youtuber Scotty Allen, for example, added a physical 3.5mm headphone jack directly to the iPhone body 7 years ago. For more information and related video, see In the article at that time.

(1 EUR = 1,1448 USD)