Three weeks ago, Ken Pillonel, a robotics engineering student, created the world’s first USB-C iPhone. You can now bid to buy him the prototype of the device on eBay. Or at least you can if you have really deep pockets.
The project saw Pillonel replace an iPhone X’s Lightning charger with a fully functional USB-C port, which Apple may be forced to do in the future by the European Commission. Now he gives others the chance to own his work – and bid for device has now reached the astronomical sum of $ 80,100 at the time of writing.
With seven days left to go until the auction ends, it’s unclear how far the bidding for the item could possibly go, so it’s not exactly a carefree impulse buy.
But if you’re technically minded and have a spare iPhone handy, you can always have a go at making one, as Pillonel has also shared full instructions on how to do it. Just be aware that this is definitely not for the keen hobbyist.
The full 14-minute video above describes the process, and most of it is devoted to the difficult process of reverse-engineering official and counterfeit Lightning connectors. A GitHub repository has the technical information for those looking to achieve the same feat.
But even with the pioneering research already done, you will need a steady hand for iPhone X surgery. Not only is the port physically wider, but the circuit must bend the components in order to only adjust. This wouldn’t be possible without an ultra-thin space between the Taptic Engine and the battery that stretches the length of it. This is what the custom PCB looked like:
Creating a USB-C shaped hole in the bottom is kind of a nightmare as well, due to Apple’s penchant for shatter-prone glass on the back and curved edges. Maybe that means the company’s move to square edges would be more mod friendly. This specific design is only for the iPhone X, but Pillonel encourages anyone who can get it to work with different models to add a pull request to GitHub, so others can do the same.
If you don’t want to fret (and your warranty) using your own device, the eBay option may appeal instead. But Pillonel has certain conditions: the buyers agree not to restore, update or erase the phone; that they will not use it as the main handset and that they will not open it.
“I guarantee that the phone will work when you receive it but if you do not follow the [sic.] guidelines, you are on your own, ”the description reads. “So basically you can do whatever you want with it, but don’t expect anything from me if you break something.” It’s just a prototype. “
Despite these restrictions, the current auction has reached $ 80,100 at the time of writing, with seven days remaining. Not bad for a phone Pillonel chose because it was “the cheapest iPhone I could get my hands on and was still half-decent at the time.”
The EU’s decision to make USB-C the universal standard also makes Apple more likely to adopt the connector for its iPhones. Technically, the company could just make USB-C models for Europe and keep Lightning elsewhere, but that comes down to adding extra costs out of sheer madness, especially when newer iPads and MacBooks support USB-C.
Of course, we may see Apple bypass the requirements by releasing an iPhone without ports.