USB-C has won the charging war in the European Union (EU). Starting December 28, 2024, smartphones, tablets, and many other consumer devices that charge via cable will need to support USB-C charging to be sold in the region. That means the clock is ticking on Apple’s Lightning, the most high-profile company resisting the USB-C takeover.
As announcement By the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and EU Official Journal Twitter accounts today and spotted by The Verge, EU USB-C legislation is published in the Official Journal. The law takes effect on December 27 and requires compliance by 2024.
The legislation will first affect smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, earphones, headsets, headphones, portable speakers, portable video game consoles, e-readers, keyboards, mice and systems portable navigation devices. In April 2026, it will apply to laptops.
According to the EU directive, the legislation “simplifies the use of radio equipment and reduces unnecessary waste and costs” and is “necessary, in particular for the benefit of consumers and other end-users”.
He notes that despite a decline in the variety of charging device types over the years, the EU government has remained dissatisfied with e-waste generation and consumer convenience and wants to “avoid fragmentation of the market for charging devices”.
The USB-C era
A European law on universal chargers has been in the works for more than a decade and gained momentum in September 2021. The publication of the legislation cements a frustrating countdown for Apple, which has long resisted the switch to charging. universal.
In 2009, when Micro USB was crowned the agreed-upon charging connector of choice by smartphone makers, Apple went rogue, as Engadget reports, in favor of its Lightning port. And if Apple were successful, a government agency wouldn’t be directing how its products charge on December 28, 2024, either.
Apple has argued that moving what it says is 1 billion devices from its Lightning cable will disrupt consumers and create a large amount of e-waste – ironically, the exact opposite of what proponents say the requirement will allow.
“Governments have to do what they’re going to do, and obviously we’ll have to comply,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, said at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in October.
“We have no choice, as we do around the world, to comply with local laws. But we believe the approach would have been better for the environment and better for our customers if the government had not been not as prescriptive.”
If we were to nitpick here, compliance could, technically, mean several things for the iPhone. But the signs mostly point to Apple releasing an iPhone with USB-C. A report from Bloomberg earlier this year indicated that a USB-C iPhone could arrive as soon as next year. It is unconfirmed if this means the Lightning port will be immediately killed in other geographies, or even in the EU.
However, the relentless takeover of consumer devices by USB-C, including the mass adoption and increase in power delivery capabilities and the advancement of specifications such as USB4, is only gaining momentum. in popularity. It’s not indicative of the standard, but a DIY USB-C iPhone selling for $86,001 shows there’s interest in the connector uniting with Apple’s smartphone.
Plus, universal charging might be something Apple will have to deal with outside of the EU one day. Brazil is considering a USB-C law, and some politicians are also pushing for universal charging in the United States.
Bypassing the USB-C requirement by making iPhones rely on wireless charging isn’t an ultimate solution either. Apart from the technical hurdles associated with this, it appears that the EU is also considering imposing this, saying in its directive that this “should also be considered in the future”.
For what it’s worth, the EU has said it is also ready to adapt its legislation around new types of wired charging technology, although some still fear the law could limit innovation.
Somehow, it seems our time with the 10-year-old Lightning port is shrinking.
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