Apple forced to make changes to chargers as EU creates new policy

Apple and other smartphone makers will have to support USB-C as part of a single charging standard for mobile devices across the world. European Union from September 2024.

European Union officials said they signed an interim agreement on Tuesday that will require a uniform charging cord across the 27-nation bloc.

It was part of a wider effort to make products sold in the EU more sustainable, reduce e-waste and eliminate “cable clutter”, said European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager. .

The USB-C cable and the Apple logo on the iPhone are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland, September 25, 2021
Apple and other smartphone makers will have to support USB-C as part of a single charging standard for mobile devices across the European Union by September 2024 (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up at home,” Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, told a press briefing in Brussels.

“Now they will be able to use a single charger for all portable electronic devices, which is an important step in increasing consumer convenience.”

Under the legislation, according to a statement, “cell phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, earphones and headsets, portable video game consoles and portable speakers charged through a wired cable will need to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of manufacture.”

The upcoming rules will apply to new small and medium-sized electronic devices sold in the EU.

Although the rules only apply to devices sold in the European single market, like the EU’s strict privacy regulations, they could end up becoming a de facto standard for the rest of the world.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference on a common charging solution for mobile phones at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, September 23, 2021.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton speaks during a press conference on a common charging solution for mobile phones at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, September 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Thierry Monasse)

Chargers that support fast charging will also need to adopt the same charging speeds. The measure does not affect wireless charging technologies.

Consumers should be able to buy a device without a bundled charger if they want, which the EU estimates will save consumers 250 million euros ($371 million) a year.

“One in three chargers supplied with these products are never opened from their original packaging,” according to the European Commission’s impact assessment, Saliba said.

The new rule will bring major changes for iPhone users.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But during the legislative process, Apple told EU officials the proposed rule would obsolete up to a billion devices and accessories that use the company’s proprietary Lightning connector, according to a report. European Parliament report.

A 2021 study cited in the same report found that 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.

13 years of the iPhone: how Apple has changed

The writing has been on the wall for the end of Apple’s Lightning connector for some time. Apple already uses the USB-C standard in some Macs and iPads and is would have test iPhone models that replace the Lightning port.

But Tuesday’s announcement could accelerate Apple’s move to USB-C and potentially lead the company to abandon Lightning permanently worldwide.

Efforts to impose a single European charging standard date back more than a decade. At one point officials had gained industry support for the USB Micro-B standard, but a voluntary agreement among major manufacturers to that effect expired in 2014 and has not been replaced. The upcoming law requiring USB-C, on the other hand, is among the first of its kind.

Tuesday’s announcement follows trilateral negotiations between the European Commission, Parliament and Council. The pricing measure still needs to receive final approval before taking effect, but the process is widely seen as a formality.

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