Image Source: The Guardian
According to a new rule issued Tuesday by EU officials, Apple and other smartphone manufacturers will be compelled to support USB-C as part of a single charging standard for mobile devices across the EU by 2024.
According to Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission, the regulation aims to reduce e-waste and “cable clutter.” “Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable, regardless of their manufacture,” according to a press release.
New small and medium-sized electronics sold in the European Union will be subject to the new rules.
Fast charging chargers will be required to use the same charging speeds. Wireless charging technologies are unaffected by the measure, and consumers must be able to purchase a device without a bundled charger if they so desire.
For Apple (AAPL) users, the new rule will mean significant changes. A request for comment from Apple went unanswered right away. However, according to an EU Parliament report, Apple told EU officials that the proposed rule would make a billion devices and accessories using the company’s proprietary Lightning connector obsolete during the legislative process.
According to the same report, iPhones with the Lightning connector accounted for 18% of new mobile phone sales in 2019, with 44% using USB-C and 38% using the older USB Micro-B connector.
Apple’s Lightning connector has been on its way out for a while now. Apple already uses the USB-C standard in some Macs and iPads and is rumored to be testing iPhone models that don’t have a Lightning port. However, Apple’s announcement on Tuesday could hasten the company’s transition to USB-C, possibly leading to the end of Lightning everywhere.
More than a decade has passed since attempts to impose a single charging standard in Europe. Officials had gotten industry support for the USB Micro-B standard at one point, but a voluntary agreement among major manufacturers to that effect expired in 2014 and was not replaced. In contrast, the upcoming legislation mandating USB-C is one of the first of its kind.
The European Commission, Parliament, and Council held trilateral talks before announcing on Tuesday. Before going into effect, the charging measure must still receive final approval, but this is mostly a formality.