iPhone 5, Lightning connector don't list video-out support, promote AirPlay and an Apple TV instead

Lightning connector drops video-out support, wants you to use AirPlay and an Apple TV

Apple's old 30-pin iPod connector carried a lot of legacy support through the years, but it also was a capable, if chunky, connection. Those 30 pins could handle a whole hell of a lot, including serial, line-in, and component and composite video. With the switch to the new 8-pin Lightning connector on the iPhone 5, new iPod Nano, and new iPod Touch, some notable benefits were achieved, including a full digital pipe, a fully-reversible design, and a much smaller footprint. But some things might have been lost, like video out.

For the iPhone 4S, Apple's tech specs lists under TV and Video that the smartphone supports AirPlay streaming to an Apple TV, 1080p mirroring and video out over the Apple Digital AV Adapter (Apple's 30-pin-to-HDMI joiner), 480p/576p with the Apple Component AV Cable (RGB plus stereo audio, since discontinued in favor of the HDMI adapter), and 480i/576i with the Apple Composite AV Cable (yellow video, stereo audio).

For the iPhone 5, there's AirPlay. You can stream 1080p video to a third generation Apple TV (which supports 1080p) or 720p video to the second generation little black box (which doesn't support 1080p), and you can mirror your iPhone 5 to either black streaming box at 720p. For what it's worth, 720p at 720x1280 pixels is close to the iPhone 5's turned-sideways screen resolution of 1136x640. Either way it would have to be scaled up to 1080p, so broadcasting the mirroring at 720p offloads that upscaling processing to the external display instead of the iPhone, saving precious battery life, preserving Wi-Fi bandwidth, and keeping that A6 processor a bit cooler.

In case you're wondering if you might be able to get video out working on a soon-to-be-yours iPhone 5 with the Lightning-to-30-pin adapter or cable, don't hold your breath. Both adapters state video out functionality is not supported.

There are two possibilities here. Either physical video out has gone the way of the floppy with the Lightning connector, or Apple will at some point make break-out cables that translate the Lightning digital signal into HDMI, VGA, and older formats.

If hard line video out is gone, in a way it makes sense. Apple's charging forward with wireless streaming, but it's frustrating for anybody who regularly uses the adapter to display what's on your device on a bigger display without the need for a wireless network. Any presentation-giving road warrior that got used to just plugging their iPhone or iPad into a projector or HDTV via an adapter in the boardroom they're visiting will be facing a future of carrying around an Apple TV, HDMI cable, and an Airport Express just to get video off an iPhone 5 (and presumably future iPads) and onto that bigger screen.

If Apple is planning to release breakout cables, like they have for Thunderbolt on the Mac, let's hope they do it soon. Let's also hope Apple's planning to license AirPlay video streaming to display and projector manufacturers, and including Wi-Fi Direct coupling capability so one can hook up to them without a wireless network present. If not, the Lightning connector just made mobile presentation life a lot more difficult.

Source: Apple

Derek Kessler

Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, Army musician, armchair pundit, and professional ranter.

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Reader comments

iPhone 5, Lightning connector don't list video-out support, promote AirPlay and an Apple TV instead

18 Comments

The iPhone5 they were demoing had a cord plugged into the phone and the phone was shown on the screen. If they were using air play why would they need that cord. I think an HDMI adapter is coming and they had one at the presentation.

I think the point the article is making, is that regardless of whether it's *possible* to get video out of the connector, it's more about whether it's supported and whether cables will exist.

Here we go putting the cart before the horse. Can we wait until the phone has been released before making such assertions. After all, Apple also has an adapter for the connector. Who's to say video-out isn't supported that way?

Because Apple says so. If you look at the adapter on Apple's store, it says that video out isn't supported.

There actually is not an error. The comma between 'iPhone 5' and 'lightning' is used to mean 'and'. In this case, 'don't' is correct and 'doesn't' is incorrect.

This sucks BIG time! I use me iPad --> HDMI via the apple connector to watch movies on my big TV. This is also true when traveling (easy to connect hotel TV to my iPad) or even going over to a friends house who does not have an Apple TV. Sorry to say, but not everyone has Apple devices.. If the new iPad (or the current iPhone 5) truely doesn't support HDMI via cables, this is a problem for me. Does this mean I need to buy & carry an Apple TV with me where ever I go? Rediculous!

I'm a university professor, and have started using an iPad connected to a projector instead of a chalkboard in some of my classes. I don't like being tethered by the 30pin->VGA adapter (our classroom projectors mostly don't have HDMI in yet); but our campus wifi network doesn't support multicast, which you need for AirPlay w/ Apple TV (and we're not supposed to plug in e.g. Airport Expresses or other devices to make our own local wifi networks). So I'm stuck using a cable for now. Hopefully Apple will continue to support a way to connect iOS devices (or at least iPads) to older projectors.

It's not like there's another universal standard for phone connectors with HDMI-out, or anything... oh, wait!

*cough* Micro USB *cough*

This is frikken BS!!!!! I currently use my Iphone to connect to my navi unit in my truck via the navtool adapter that connects to my nav unit(Jeep) and then to an Avio composite a/v wire that plugs in to my iphone via 30 pin connector. I then have a Vulkano streamer at home and I am able to watch TV in my Jeep. Change channels and more. I was looking forward to I5 because of 4G. 3G is too choppy. And now I see this!!! Oh boy! Was just going to buy the I5 because of 4G but now I cant connect to my Jeep. Now I have to wait until they come out with an aftermarket wire that supports it and an app like DisplayOut (jailbreak) which I currently use now. If this is the case that it won't support it at all, then they just lost a sale. I would rather switch to Sammy GS3 and use hdmi to composite converter to keep that feature.

I know technology must move forward, but many cars/vans/trucks have composite video and audio and no A2DP. I stream in my car every day... I really wouldn't consider any of the new devices until composite video support is available.

What's worse is that once you update your iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 4th Gen, iPad 2 or iPad 3 to iOS 6, it cripples the video-out capabilities of the 30-pin connector - i.e. AV Composite cable will not work anymore :(