EU to make USB-C a new mobile standard by 2024
The European Parliament passed a law requiring that by the end of 2024, all consumer electronics, including Apple’s iPhone and AirPods, must use USB-C as their standard charging port.
The new law was approved by the plenary on Tuesday with 602 votes for, 13 against and 8 abstentions.
“The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe,” said EU spokesman Alex Agius Saliba.
“We’ve waited over ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past.”
The law is part of a wider EU initiative to reduce e-waste and empower consumers to make sustainable decisions. The EU says a single charger for all mobile devices and tablets is good for both the environment and consumers.
The European Parliament estimates that EU consumers spend €250 million a year on chargers; and unused chargers included with gadgets produce an additional 11,000 tons of e-waste every year.
The new regulations will allow consumers to use a single charger for a wide variety of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices, eliminating the need for a different charger each time they purchase a new device.
Categories of new devices covered by the new law include:
- Mobile phones
- Digital cameras
- Handheld game consoles
- portable speakers
- Reading lights
- Portable navigation systems
All these gadgets which can be recharged by a wired line and operate with a power delivered up to 100 watts are covered by the legislation.
Moving to a common charging standard means that all devices that support fast charging will experience the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
With many Apple devices still using the Lightning connector rather than USB-C, this “common port” law is going to have a particular impact on the iPhone maker.
Apple has criticized the idea in the past, saying standardizing charging will stifle innovation and lead to a mountain of e-waste.
Apple continues to use its proprietary Lightning port for its phones, but it will soon be forced to offer USB-C at least in the EU, thanks to the new law.
The company will most likely implement the change by iPhone 16 at the latest.
Apple could decide to sell USB-C iPhones only in the EU since the new regulation only applies to the EU, while continuing to sell Lightning iPhones in all other places. We consider that unlikely, though: it would require producing two separate versions of the iPhone, and above all, Apple favors standardization (as long as it’s on its own terms).
An alternative to USB-C law enforcement could be for Apple to remove the ports entirely in favor of wireless charging and data transfer. There have been rumors of a portless iPhone for some time; but if there ever is, it probably won’t be until 2024.