Loyal Apple customers face being left with hundreds of pounds worth of obsolete accessories when the next version of the iPhone is produced.
The fifth generation model, expected to be launched in the US this autumn, will reportedly use a new connector for charging and for linking to audio equipment.
The rumoured proposal has sparked alarm among the company’s followers who fear they will have to buy new equipment to work with the phone.
Docking stations, which play music stored on iPhones and can cost hundreds of pounds, may become redundant as will chargers. All iPhones made so far use a 30-pin connector both for power and to plug in accessories.
It is claimed that the iPhone 5 will use a smaller 19-pin version, which will be incompatible with existing accessories.
Leaked pictures apparently showing the handset reveal a smaller, rounder connector. It is thought that it could have been designed to allow for a slimmer iPhone or for a switch to charging by magnets rather than pins.
TechCrunch, an American technology blog, said it had confirmed the change by speaking to three separate manufacturers. Apple has made no comment on the rumours. The Californian-based firm’s British customers expressed their dismay last night.
On Mail Online, Allan from Dartmoor wrote: ‘Keep the same connector and I’ll probably get the next phone as it matched the various docks in the car and in the house. Change it and there is no reason for me to stick with Apple. This is why [the late Apple boss] Steve Jobs would have said “No” to this idea. It is not an opportunity for dock makers. It is an opportunity for Samsung [a major Apple rival].’
Another reader, Ross, wrote: ‘How much more – my iPad2 32GB is not a year old yet but in Apple’s eyes it’s old already. They are ripping us off – change, change, change. How to keep up? As soon as you buy it’s out of date in five months, it’s becoming a joke.’
Others, however, were confident that an adapter would be available to enable the next generation iPhone to link to existing accessories.
Sirio Brozzi, of the US website Awesome Robo, said: ‘People are stunned by this possibility, myself included. Why fix something that’s not broken?’
Answering his own question, he added: ‘Have you guys ever heard of planned obsolescence? It’s a practice which encourages planning and designing a product so it’s only useful for a limited time, before becoming obsolete.’ Robert Scoble, another blogger, said the move would give Apple tighter control over accessory makers.
‘It will be nearly impossible to make unlicensed devices,’ he wrote.
Unfortunately these design goals mean making obsolete the something like ten power chargers in my home.’
Apple advertised for staff to work on the new connector earlier this year. It was seeking an engineer ‘responsible for identifying appropriate connection technology requirements for new products and follow through with selection and development of suitable interconnect products’.
The advertisement added: ‘This will often involve adaptation of existing connectors or complete new designs.’
The new model is expected to have a larger 4-inch screen that will reputedly offer better resolution viewing than a high definition TV.
It will include Apple’s new mapping software. This has sparked privacy fears as it uses aerial photography capable of showing detail just four inches across.