What started out as a simple engineering project has now turned into a major windfall for the device’s creator after an auction for the world’s first USB-C iPhone ended with a winning bid of $86,001.
Over the last few weeks, master’s engineering student Ken Pillonel’s project to add a working USB-C port to an iPhone X has delighted the internet. Unlike a lot of other superficial phone mods, Pillonel’s custom USB-C iPhone supports full functionality for both charging and data transfer without any impact on performance or increases to the phone’s overall dimensions.
In a recent video detailing the project, Pillonel showed how he had to not only reverse engineer Apple’s C94 connector in order to swap out Apple’s traditional Lightning port, he also had to create a custom circuit board to go inside the iPhone while modifying the iPhone’s chassis to fit the USB-C port’s slightly larger connector. After successfully creating the world’s first iPhone with a working USB-C port, Pillonel put the phone up for auction on eBay.
However, as impressive as the project is, it was unclear where the final price would land. That’s because after initial bidding started at just $1, bids quickly jumped up to $30,000 before eventually hitting $80,000, and that’s not including a few bids over $100,000 that were later retracted.
After all that—plus an apparent troll bid of $1 million—and stipulations from Pillonel that the winner should not tear down, update, or use the custom USB-C iPhone as a daily driver, the auction officially closed this morning with a winning bid of $86,001.
Some might call Pillonel’s USB-C iPhone project a mere novelty—particularly since it was created using an older iPhone X—but the sky-high winning bid and all the attention the project garnered seems like proof that people desperately want a USB-C iPhone.
And while some longtime iPhone users might get annoyed at having to switch to a new port (again), with all of Apple’s new iPads, MacBooks, and desktop PCs already featuring one or more USB-C ports, it’s become crystal clear that the iPhone is actually an outlier even among Apple devices.
But at this point it feels like Apple might make a fully portless iPhone before it swaps out its Lightning connector for USB-C. But for enterprising engineers like Pillonel and folks with deep pockets, the dream of a USB-C iPhone is a reality.
Update: 11/12/21 @ 10:45 AM ET: After the auction closed, Gizmodo reached out to the USB-C iPhone’s creator, Ken Pillonel, for some additional comments about his project. When asked about seeing such strong support for his project and the lofty bids, Pillonel said, “I’m quite pleased from the support I received in the comment section of my video. People are very excited about this.”
“I feel a strong sense of accomplishment. I’ve dedicated a lot of time to this next to my studies but I never expected that it would take off like it did. It makes me very motivated to tackle other similar projects.”
That said, Pillonel is still somewhat skeptical that the winning $86,001 bid will actually go through. “The auction had ups and downs and even went to 1 million dollars for a few minutes,” said Pillonel. “I guess we will have to wait a few days to see if the payment actually goes through. If it doesn’t, I already have another idea of what I will do with that iPhone!”
When it comes to the possibility of an official USB-C iPhone, Pillonel said, “[A USB-C iPhone] probably won’t happen, but judging from the reaction of the public we can definitely see that a sizeable amount of people would love for that to happen.”
Finally, as for future projects, Pillonel says that while he doesn’t have any concrete plans for more USB-C iPhone, he does have a number of ideas in mind for other endeavors.
“I believe that now the genie is out of the bottle and we will see the same modification pop up for other iPhone models. I probably won’t be the one to do this because I’ll be focused on other projects around repairability, sustainability, and privacy. They will still be related to Apple in the near future. Very excited for what’s to come!”