What the EU universal charger push means for Australian iPhone users

They have been chewed up by dogs, misplaced, stolen, mended, tripped over, tangled, tangled and abused.

Now, the familiar iPhone charger may be about to be unplugged for good.

Last week, the European Commission has reached a provisional agreement forcing smartphones and other similar devices sold within EU borders to use the same USB-C charging port.

Although the rules don’t target the iPhone, Apple is most affected by the change and has lobbied against a mandate that would effectively ban its proprietary Lightning connector, which has been standard on new iPhones since 2012.

Here’s what the proposed changes to EU rules mean for Australians.

What does the EU offer?

Hardware makers and tech companies will have until the end of 2024 to ensure specified products sold in the EU have USB-C ports.

USB-C is quickly becoming the standard charger for electronic devices.(Getty: Dmytro Skrypnykov)

These products include smartphones, tablets, headphones, cameras, e-readers, portable game consoles, computer keyboards and mice.

Laptop makers have a bit more time: 40 months from the time European lawmakers approve the deal, which should be soon.

Why is the EU doing this?

According to the European Commission, a universal charger for smartphones and other devices will save people money, drive innovation in wireless charging and reduce electronic waste, or e-waste.


It says European consumers spend about 2.4 billion euros ($3.58 billion) a year on stand-alone chargers they bought separately, and the deal would save them about 240 million. euros ($358 million).

What does Apple say?

Almost the complete opposite.

According to Apple, the mandate will increase e-waste and slow down innovation.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating a single type of connector is stifling innovation, rather than encouraging it, which in turn will hurt consumers in Europe and globally,” Apple said. ‘last year.

In response, the commission said smartphone makers would be given a 24-month transition period and “sufficient time” to align.

What does this mean for Australians?

Apple could make USB-C standard on all new iPhones or only those sold in the EU.

The first option was the most likely, said Michael Cowling, a computer expert at Central Queensland University.

Tangled multicolored cables
Unused cables can be recycled for copper and plastic.(Getty: mikroman6)

The situation is comparable to 5G a few years ago, when various countries had different standards, Dr Cowling said.

“Initially they had slightly different phones for different markets, but as soon as they could have universal 5G phone chargers, they did.”

For Apple, a global standard means more streamlined supply chains.

So the rule change in Europe means that iPhones sold in Australia will likely also have USB-C.

“It’s going to be cheaper to go USB-C everywhere,” Dr. Cowling said.

This could affect the resale value of iPhones, he added.

“And probably upset people too.”

What is USB-C?

It is quickly becoming the standard charger for electronic devices.

Almost all Android smartphones now use USB-C charging, as do Apple MacBooks and iPads, and many other new laptops.

IT pro Peter Saville says USB-C ports are less likely to get “gummed up” than Lightning ports.

“A lot of iPhone repairmen would tell you that gummed ports are the biggest failure rate other than cracked screens,” he said.

“USB-C can be cleaned quite easily.”

What about my Lightning accessories?

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