Refreshed iPhone may feature micro dock

Replacing the 30-pin dock connector now used in iOS devices with a 19-pin connector would be handy and a headache for accessories.

Speculation about Apple's next iPhone is piling up ahead of an expected fall launch.

The latest unconfirmed story, from Reuters, claims that the next iPhone will use a 19-pin dock connector, which would be smaller than the 30-pin connector in all current iOS devices. The smaller dock connector will make room for a headphone jack on the bottom of the iPhone, Reuters' two "sources familiar with the matter" said.

This isn't the first talk of a smaller dock connector in the next iPhone. Earlier this year, iMore reported that Apple was working on a "micro dock" for future devices, with a possible debut in the iPhone 5. The latest report follows a familiar pattern for iPhone rumors, in which larger publications confirm stories that have been circulating among smaller blogs for months.

If Apple plans to ditch the 30-pin dock connector, it'll be both a blessing and a burden for accessory makers. Companies that make speakers, chargers, and other accessories will have a chance to sell newly-designed products; but because older iPhone models will presumably remain on sale, those companies will have to keep supporting 30-pin dock accessories for years to come.

For existing accessories, new iPhone users may have to get an adapter -- assuming Apple releases one -- but this introduces more headaches. Even if adapters are available, users will either have to buy one for every accessory they own, or carry one around. The transition to a 19-pin connector will be a bit messy, which is why cordless accessories are looking like better options all the time.

Still, docking issues aren't likely to be a big concern as iPhone fans begin the waiting game for the next model. Analysts expect iPhone sales and profit growth to sink to their lowest rates in two years, now that consumers have begun to hold out for the latest and greatest, Bloomberg reports. Granted, analysts have underestimated Apple in 25 of the last 26 quarters, but the one exception was a year ago, when people started waiting for the iPhone 4S.

Many of the expected tentpole features for the next iPhone have already been discussed to death in the rumor mill, including a larger display and support for 4G LTE networks. At this point, iPhone fans have a pretty good idea of what they're waiting for.

Follow Jared on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ and follow Today@PCWorld on Twitter for even more tech news and commentary.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)

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