What EU’s New USB-C Rules Mean for The iPhone
This week, lawmakers in the European Union agreed on new measures to require manufacturers of everything from smartphones and headphones to digital cameras and tablets to utilize the same universal charging port: USB Type-C. The new standards should go into effect in the fall of 2024; after which, these gadgets that charge using a wired cable will have to charge via a built-in USB-C connector.
This legislation anticipates having the most significant impact on Apple’s iPhone. The rest of the smartphone industry has increasingly converged on USB-C as a single, standardized wired charging port; however, Apple has stubbornly persevered with Lightning, the proprietary connector first introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012. For the time being, the EU’s rules are only provisional. They need approval from the European Council and the European Parliament before becoming official. Laptops are an exception because the high-wattage USB-C chargers required by these devices are less prevalent than phone chargers. Instead, they’ll have 40 months, which will be the beginning of 2026.
Good Bye Lightning Cable
If Apple wants to keep the iPhone with a physical charging connector after the fall of 2024, the EU wants USB-C to be the sole choice. It can no longer just provide an external dongle as it did a decade ago. According to the most recent public drafts of the proposed regulation, the USB Type-C connector used for charging must be “accessible and operable at all times”; implying that a detachable dongle is unlikely to suffice. The EU’s laws intend to reduce e-waste by establishing a uniform charging standard; it will allow the reusability of more chargers rather than them ending up in landfills.
The EU’s new legislation is still a long way from becoming law. It must be finalized technically and voted on by the European Parliament and the European Council. However, the organization is imposing significant changes on Apple between it and the Digital Markets Act, which includes clauses requiring iMessage to interoperate with other more minor messaging services and requiring Apple to enable third-party app stores on iPhone. And if Apple wants to keep profiting from one of its most important markets, it will have no choice but to play ball.
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