The EU will require all smartphones to use the USB Type-C charging port from 2024, a move that will force Apple to transition away from its proprietary Lightning charging port in its iPhones.
In an effort to address the “fragmentation of the market for charging interfaces for mobile phones and similar devices”, the European Parliament has passed a directive to require the use of the USB Type-C charging port in all devices in the union from Autumn 2024. The directive will take 24 months to come into effect and laptops will also be required to fit these requirements after 40 months.
This decision will have a considerable impact on the design of Apple’s flagship product, the iPhone, which is the most popular device outside of the USB-C umbrella. Apple’s smartphones have been using the Lightning port for wired charging since the iPhone 5 in 2012, though the company has used the USB-C in a limited number of devices since 2015, such as its iPads and MacBooks.
As well, not only will the EU be forcing smartphones to use a USB-C charging port, but it will also be standardizing a fast-charging technology too. USB Power Delivery is a fast charging technology capable of reaching 240W, much higher than any smartphone can charge at currently. This doesn’t mean device manufacturers can’t create their own charging technology, it just means that they need to support USB Power Delivery too. OnePlus is a company that already supported both its own fast charging technology and Power Delivery in its smartphones, and Power Delivery is the technology used to fast charge some devices like the Nintendo Switch.
Apple has previously objected to the adoption of a common charging port in the European Union, stating “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.” in a statement provided to Reuters last September.
We have reached a deal on the common charger! 🔌👏
✔️mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras & more #USBtypeC
✔️harmonised fast-charging technology
✔️unbundling of sale of chargers from the sale of device
— IMCO Committee Press (@EP_SingleMarket) June 7, 2022
“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.” said the EU Parliament in a statement after the decision, “Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one single charger for all of their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.”
“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.”
Acknowledging that this move would impose a cost on manufacturers who may have to adapt their devices to fit into the new regulations, the EU parliament claimed that the estimated yearly €457 million income generated by charging devices not being included with a device would “outweigh the negative impact on the turnover of device manufacturers (EUR 352 million yearly) incurred by the implementation of the common connector.”
Alex Agius Saliba, MEP, who acted as the rapporteur for the common charger proposal said: “Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe! 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.”
Much to the delight of many journalists, this standardisation of charging ports will also extend to cameras as well as phones and tablets. The full list of devices that will have to be equipped with a USB-C port, regardless of their manufacturer according to the EU directive is as follows:
- Mobile phones
- Digital cameras
- Headphones and headsets
- Handheld videogame consoles
- Portable speakers which are charged with a wired cable