EU To Make USB-C Mandatory for All Phones by Autumn 2024 – All You Need To Know
Apple will have to ditch its Lightning connectors, at least in the EU, which accounts for 27 percent of its revenue.
Negotiators from European Union's two legislative bodies, European Parliament and Council of the European Union, came to an agreement on Tuesday, 7 June – USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras in the EU by Autumn 2024.
The proposed law will also harmonise fast-charging standards and includes provisions that will allow the EU to regulate wireless chargers in the future.
Why did the EU bring in such a legislation? What happens to Apple's lightning port? Will this affect the rest of the world?
Here's all you need to know:
Why Force a Switch to USB-C?
In a press release, the European Parliament said that this law is a part of a "broader EU effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier."
With USB-C common to every device, consumers will no longer need a different charger and cable every time they purchase a small or medium-sized portable electronic device.
Phones and tablets won’t need to come bundled with a charger, since buyers will already have the USB-C cables and chargers at home.
"These new obligations will lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year on unnecessary charger purchases. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually."European Parliament
“Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe!” European Parliament’s spokesperson Alex Agius Saliba said in a press statement.
“European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics.”
What Devices Will This Apply To?
The proposed rules will apply to the following devices:
Smartphones (including Apple's iPhones)
Handheld video game consoles
What Happens to Apple's Lightning Port?
Apple will have to ditch its Lightning connectors, at least in the EU, which accounts for over 27 percent of its revenue.
The Lightning connector, introduced in 2012, was significantly better than its competition at the time (microUSB), but doesn't hold up well against USB-C, which was introduced in 2014.
Lightning has durability advantages, and is slimmer, but USB-C is capable of handling way more power, which makes it great for charging small to medium devices. The latter's transfer speeds are also significantly higher.
EU representatives said that the law wasn't specifically targeting Apple.
“In two years’ time, if Apple wants to sell their products within our internal market they have to abide by our rules, and their device will have to be USB-C," Saliba added.
"We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world," Apple told BBC.
Apple already uses USB-C on laptops and certain tablets.
Will This Affect the Rest of the World?
It likely will. EU is a large market for consumer technology and often causes ripple effects.
In 2009, the European Commission brought together 10 mobile phone producers, including Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, who voluntarily agreed to adopt Micro USB to minimise electronic waste in the EU.
In the following years, micro USB became the standard mobile phone charger across the world, replacing about 30 different types of proprietary chargers.
Even Apple can be expected to switch from Lighning to USB-C in other parts of the world since the latter has more advantages than drawbacks.
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