Image Source: The Guardian
According to a new rule issued Tuesday by EU officials, Apple and other smartphone makers will be compelled to support USB-C as part of a uniform charging standard for mobile devices across the European Union by 2024.
The legislation aims to reduce e-waste and “cable clutter,” according to Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission. “Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers that are rechargeable through a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacture,” according to a press release.
New small and medium-sized electronics sold in the EU will be subject to the new standards.
Chargers that support fast charging will be required to follow the same charging protocols. Wireless charging technologies are unaffected by the policy, and consumers would have to be able to purchase a device without a bundled charger if they so desired.
Apple (AAPL) users can expect significant changes due to the new rule. A request for comment from Apple was not immediately returned. According to an EU Parliament report, Apple notified EU officials during the legislative process that the new rule would render outdated as many as a billion products and accessories that use the company’s proprietary Lightning connector useless.
In 2019, iPhones with the Lightning connector accounted for 18 percent of new mobile phone sales, with 44 percent using USB-C and 38 percent utilizing the older USB Micro-B connector, according to a 2021 study quoted in the same publication.
The end of Apple’s Lightning connector has been written on the wall for quite some time. Apple already employs the USB-C standard in some Macs and iPads and is said to be testing iPhone models that don’t have a Lightning port. However, Apple’s statement on Tuesday might hasten the company’s transition to USB-C, possibly leading to the end of Lightning worldwide.
Efforts to impose a unified billing standard across Europe have been ongoing for more than a decade. Officials had secured industry support for the USB Micro-B standard at one point, but a voluntary agreement between major manufacturers to that effect expired in 2014 and was not replaced. In contrast, the upcoming law requiring USB-C is one of the first of its kind.
On Tuesday, the announcement came after trilateral talks between the European Commission, Parliament, and Council. Before entering into force, the charging measure must still gain final approval, but this is mainly seen as a formality.