Today, the European Parliament They voted overwhelmingly in favor of New legislation that will eventually require all mobile phones sold in the EU to use a USB-C port for wired charging. The proposed rules, on which lawmakers reached a preliminary agreement last June, mean Apple will likely have to remove the decade-old Lightning connector from its phones and switch to USB-C if it wants to keep selling it in one of its phones. The world’s most profitable market.
The EU’s goal is to reduce e-waste. If more devices are interoperable with the same cables, the EU believes that fewer electronic devices and chargers will be phased out. According to her estimates, every year, 11,000 tons of discarded and unused chargers end up in landfill, which she hopes will reduce these rules. It also wants to save consumers money by allowing them to reuse chargers (up to 250 million euros, it estimates) and reduce the impact of locking on proprietary accessories.
The question now is when will Apple have to make the switch?
The new EU rules – technically an amendment to it Radio Equipment Directives It has not yet been officially approved. Although they have been approved by the bloc’s parliament, the common shipper legislation still needs to be approved by the Council of the European Union and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It then takes effect after 20 days.
But even once that happens, companies like Apple will still have an effective two-year grace period designed to ease the transition to a USB-C future. According to the press release from the European Parliament, this means that the rules are likely to enter into force by the end of 2024. They will apply across the industry, regardless of the manufacturer. But as the only major smartphone maker that hasn’t yet made the switch to USB-C (since 2012, every iPhone has used a Lightning connector), it’s Apple that is likely to see the biggest impact.
Apple releases a new flagship smartphone like the Watch in the latter half of each year, so it’s safe to assume we’ll see a new iPhone (probably called the iPhone 16) released around the same time the rules go into effect in late 2024. But since iPhones usually launch in September, and EU legislation will not enter into force for 24 months after it is formally approved by the European Council, it may end up launching only the iPhone 16. Before The new rules come into effect. That would make the iPhone 17 of 2025 (if Apple continues with the current naming convention) the first model forced To use USB-C for wired charging.
“The new rules will not apply to products already on the market.”
It’s possible that Apple will make the change sooner, but current rules say it technically won’t have to. The press release from the European Parliament explicitly states that devices already on the market will not need to be recalled – so if Apple releases the Lightning-port iPhone before the deadline, it can continue to sell the phone. “The new rules will not apply to products placed on the market prior to the implementation date,” the press release read. This is a change from the way the European Parliament was framing the rules in June, when a spokesperson said the edge that “there should be no incompatible products on the market” when the regulations come into effect, indicating that devices without USB-C ports should be removed from sale.
This more forgiving phase makes it more feasible for Apple to announce and launch the Lightning-equipped iPhone 16 in 2024, before new EU rules come into effect. But reports suggest it may be preparing to switch to USB-C early. Trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently suggested that Apple might be ready to make the change in 2023 (when the iPhone 15 is likely to be launched). BloombergMark Gorman More cautious about the company’s time frame, however, you recently mentioned that 2023 is the “earliest” the company might make for a change.
Other than smartphones, the rules will apply to all kinds of electronic devices, including tablets, headphones, keyboards and mice, which means Apple will also need to start offering everything from AirPods to Magic Mouse with a USB-C port for wired charging. The legislation also includes laptops, but they have been given a slightly longer implementation period, which means they won’t have to use USB-C for wired charging until early 2026. EU rules Also note that small devices such as smart watches or health trackers are exempt “when the small size of the product does not allow [them] to be equipped [a] USB Type C socket.
Other devices such as tablets, headphones, keyboards and mice are also affected
EU product legislation only applies to goods sold in member states, so it can’t force Apple to switch to USB-C for iPhones sold elsewhere in the world. This means Apple can restrict USB-C iPhones to EU markets or even out of the region altogether if it wants the iPhone to remain exclusive to Lightning. But given the size of the European market as a whole (it accounted for nearly a quarter of Apple’s net sales in the last fiscal year) and Apple’s focus on offering as few versions of its products as possible, it seems likely that we’ll see USB-C iPhones sold worldwide as a result of legalization European Union (The company did not respond to questions about how it plans to comply with the new rules).
If Apple truly If she wants to avoid adding a Type-C port to her phones, she might do away with the wired charging port altogether. The rules state that phones must use USB-C for charging “as much as they can be recharged via wired charging,” which leaves the door open for Apple to remove the wired charging port entirely and offer a default type of iPhone without a port. this thing Bloomberg Reported which company employees have discussed internally in the past, although it is unclear whether these discussions emerged from the planning stages. The European Union is planning similar unification rules for wireless charging at a later date.
Switching to USB-C could be a tech upgrade for your iPhone
But simpler solutions to the rules are not possible. The wording of the legislation means Apple can’t try to get around it by offering USB-C charging via a detachable adapter (remember this?) while still equipping every iPhone with a Lightning port. The EU legislation He specifically notes that a USB Type-C port must “remain available and operable at all times.” The detachable adapter will not cut it.
Although it has been resistant so far, Apple could gain a lot from switching to USB-C. Over the years, the universal connector has been upgraded to support higher and higher data transfer and charging speeds, with the latest specifications released by USB-IF allowing charging of up to 240W and 80Gbps of data transfer. In contrast, the latest iPhones higher at 27W for shipping and Only 480Mbps for data transfer. No wonder Apple is already making heavy use of USB-C across its Mac and iPad lineup.
As a special standard, Lightning has given Apple unprecedented control over the accessory market for its phones, but it hasn’t kept pace with modern cable specifications. When Apple introduced the Lightning port along with the iPhone 5 in September 2012, Phil Schiller called it “the modern connector of the next decade.” Well, the decade is coming to an end, and the EU thinks it’s time for Apple to move on.
Oct 5th Correction at 8:30 a.m. ET: This article originally stated that the legislation would need approval by the European Council. this is not true. You will in fact need approval from the Council of the European Union, which is a separate body. We are sorry for the error.