Last year, we covered a proposed bill in the EU that would force mobile manufacturers to use a common charging system that is universal across different OEMs. USB-C was the proposed standard, as it offers better charging speeds compared to competing standards and is also readily available, with most manufacturers already using it in some of their devices.
In the past week, the EU has passed the Bill, which will be enforced starting in Autumn 2024, giving manufacturers 12 months to shift to the new standard if they have not yet started incorporating USB-C connectors in their phones already.
Apple and their range of iPhones are obviously the elephant in the room, as they are currently the only main brand smartphone that has not yet incorporated USB-C in any of their smartphone products.
Apple uses the Lightning port, which is a proprietary system exclusive to Apple products across all iPhones and the base model iPad. However, USB-C connectors are found in other Apple products, including MacBooks and most iPad models.
Moving forward, the company will have to introduce USB-C connectors in the iPhones if they are to sell them in the European Union. On the other hand, if Apple finds the USB-C not suitable for their smartphones, there is the option of totally removing the Lightning port and instead relying on wireless charging to top up their devices.
This will obviously be a very controversial move and would draw backlash from different sectors. However, Apple did not shy away from being among the first to drop the headphone jack therefore if their market research indicates dropping the charging port will not negatively affect their profits, then it is a road they might just be willing to take.
The new mandate covers rechargeable mobile devices like phones, tablets, laptops, handheld game consoles, headphones, keyboards, speakers and cameras. They refer to these kinds of products as “small and medium-sized portable electronic devices”.
Since laptops require a higher power input compared to the other devices, manufacturers producing them will be given an additional 40 months to make their laptops meet the new requirements. The additional 40 months will lapse in 2026.
“European consumers were long frustrated with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics… We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice and portable navigation devices are also included, in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers,” said Alex Agius Saliba, the European Union Parliament Spokesperson
By enforcing the common standard and ensuring more chargers can be reused rather than being thrown away, the EU estimates the rules will cut down on over 11,000 metric (over 12,000 tons) tons of e-waste each year and save customers €250 million on “unnecessary charger purchases”
The Bill is yet to be approved by the European Parliament and European Council. However, The Guardian notes this should be a formality and nothing should realistically stand in its way of becoming law.