The EU will require Apple to include USB-C on its iPhone by 2024. This was after European lawmakers agreed on Tuesday to require a single, standard charging port for mobile phones as well as tablets and cameras.
Brussels has been pushing for a single, standardized mobile charge port for over a decade now. This was prompted by complaints from both Android and iPhone users about having to switch to different chargers for their devices.
Currently, Apple uses its proprietary Lightning cable for its iPhones. This is despite Apple being part of the USB Implementers Forum’s standards committee that developed the USB-C standard.
Apple had previously warned that the proposal would hurt innovation and create more electronic waste. However, the European Commission has countered by saying that the move will benefit consumers who will no longer have to buy different chargers for competing devices, which would also reduce e-waste as consumers would be able to reuse their existing chargers.
“Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe!” said Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s rapporteur, in a press statement. “European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics.”
In addition to requiring Apple to use USB-C, the new EU legislation also includes provisions designed to address wireless chargers in the future, as well as harmonizing fast-charging standards. (Read: Apple is finally killing the iPod)
The legislation still needs approval by the EU Parliament and the European Council later this year. That said, this appears to simply be a formality. In a press release, the European Parliament stated clearly that the law would be in place “by autumn 2024.”
Ruling could be beneficial for Apple
Despite looking to be a negative for Apple, the ruling could actually benefit the Cupertino-based company in the short term. Analysts state that it could actually drive sales of Apple devices in 2024 as Europeans look to buy the latest gadgets with USB-C.
According to CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino, the ruling could persuade consumers to upgrade to a new phone sooner, rather than later.
He added that “existing consumers can still use the Lightning cable, but maybe there would be fewer purchases of older products on third-party platforms.”
Usually, when Apple releases new iPhones, the older-generation phones get discounted. This tends to lead to more customers buying the older, cheaper variants. The move to the new standard could break that trend, especially if the EU also prohibits the sale of older models.
That said, such a move could end up upsetting consumers who may feel that they’re being forced to shell out more, according to IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani.
A 2019 European Commission study showed that half of the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 still used the older, USB micro-B connector. Of the remaining half, 29 percent used USB-C while 21 percent used Apple’s Lightning.
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