Modder Open Sources iPhone USB-C Mod
As humans, we all have basic needs, including food, water, shelter, and a USB-C iPhone. Okay, that last one isn’t strictly a need, but a lot of people want a USB-C iPhone so much they’re willing to embark on an expensive and complex mod project. Recently, engineering student Ken Pillonel showed off his amazing USB-C mod for the iPhone X. Now, he’s decided to open up the mod to all interested parties. There’s a GitHub repository with technical details, plus a video explainer. If you were hoping it was as simple as drilling a hole and soldering a few wires, you’re in for disappointment. There’s a reason it took an aspiring robotics engineer to devise the mod. You could also buy the original prototype, which is being auctioned on eBay.
Apple was early to adopt USB-C for its laptops, and the new port standard then expanded to the company’s high-end iPad Pro line. However, the iPhone and the base model iPad still using a Lightning port. So, Apple enthusiasts are forced to keep multiple cables around. The desire for a USB-C iPhone is so intense that Pillonel’s mod got mainstream attention. The original YouTube video, which is a mere 39 seconds in length, has already blown past one million views.
As promised, the longer demo video is now available. The 14-minute video details the entire project from setting goals to designing a custom internal PCB. Just figuring out how to connect the iPhone internals to a new port took a lot of trial and error, calling for the sacrifice of many Apple-certified Lightning cables. Eventually, Pillonel decided he needed to reverse engineer the Apple C94 Lightning controller, which is inside each of those cables. That component needed to move into the iPhone, and there’s no room for it. Luckily, there are Chinese knockoff C94 Lightning plugs that were easier to study.
Eventually, Pillonel designed a custom flexible circuit board to go inside the phone, linking the USB-C plug with the Lightning-locked internals—so both charging and data transfer are functional. Unlike the stock components, this circuit is mounted vertically between the battery and Taptic Engine. This chip design is based on the fake C94 components from China, so Pillonel is confident he can release the technical details without fear of legal threats from Apple. You can find this and everything else you need in the GitHub project. Well, you won’t find the technical skill you need to make it happen.
If you’re desperate for a USB-C iPhone and reworking circuit boards isn’t in your skillset, you can buy the original USB-C iPhone from Pillonel. It’s on eBay now with a week left in the auction, as of this posting. However, the price has already reached nearly $5,000. It seems plenty of people seem to value a USB-C iPhone at least as much as food or shelter.