EU approves ewaste law set to force Apple to switch to USB-C by 2024


Apple is set to be forced to ditch its Lightning connector and join other smartphone manufacturers in fitting its devices with USB-C ports in parts of Europe, following approval of EU legislation that changes how iPhones are recharged. — Bloomberg

STRASBOURG: While many device manufacturers have long since switched to the USB-C charging port, Apple is stubbornly sticking to the Lightning connector for iPhones. Following EU lawmaker approval, that's now set to change in 2024 in Europe.

Apple is set to be forced to ditch its Lightning connector and join other smartphone manufacturers in fitting its devices with USB-C ports in parts of Europe, following approval of EU legislation that changes how iPhones are recharged.

The European Parliament approved a legislation on Tuesday for mobile phones and other electronic devices in the European Union to have standardised charging equipment from 2024.

Under the agreement, USB-C is to become the standard charging socket in the EU. Among the other electronic devices included in the agreement are tablets, ereaders, digital cameras, headphones and portable speakers.

Apple has so far resisted the consensus on USB-C, preferring instead to continue using its proprietary Lightning connector.

However the EU law is now set to force Apple to ditch the Lightning port for USB-C by the iPhone 16 at the latest (assuming an iPhone 15 first appears in 2023).

The regulation also allows consumers to purchase charging equipment and devices separately from one another. A longer phase-in period applies for when the regulations enter into force for laptops.

The agreement comes despite industry resistance. Apple in particular has criticised the regulations as hampering innovation on charging. The US tech giant also argues the move will cause many existing chargers to be needlessly thrown away.

EU lawmakers say the idea of the regulation is to cut down on electronic waste by reducing the need for various kinds of charger cables. The European Commission estimates disposed chargers generate 11,000 tonnes of ewaste every year.

Consumers are also set to benefit because there are fewer cables at home and less money spent on new power supply units with every device.

However while EU countries are working towards finding one charging solution, Apple is thought to be working towards none at all.

The company has long been rumoured to be planning a completely portless iPhone, charging and connecting to devices entirely wirelessly.

Given the MagSafe wireless charging accessories that have flourished with the iPhones 12 and 13 as well as Apple's longstanding eagerness to remove ports from its devices, the company may well be considering the need for any port at all - Lightning or USB-C.

However the EU law states that any device large enough to house a USB-C port must include one, so consumers in Europe may not be seeing a portless phone for the time being.

The EU parliament confirmed with its latest vote a deal hatched between negotiators from the legislature and EU countries in June. EU environment ministers are now due to formally approve the legislation later in October before it can come into force. – dpa

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