The European Union (EU) has reached an agreement making USB-C charging no longer just a convenience, but a requirement for iPhones and all other mobile phones by the fall of 2024. The plan extends to additional consumer electronics using wired charging, including digital cameras, tablets, and tablets later portable computer.
Today’s announcement shows the EU Parliament and Council agreeing to terms for USB-C charging globally, something Parliament has spent 10 years defending. In September, the European Commission announced its intention to enact legislation requiring USB-C charging. The next step will be the formal approval of the agreement by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Once approved, the policy will also apply to portable video game consoles, e-readers, earphones, headphones, and headphones. In today’s announcement, the European Parliament said products in the specified categories “that are rechargeable via wired cable must be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer”.
Laptops must also comply within 40 months after the policy takes effect. Since many laptops that charge via USB-C are very light, it will be interesting to see how budget designs handle politics.
The policy will also standardize fast charging speeds, so people can expect their devices to charge at the same speed via compatible chargers.
Parliament argued in its declaration that the legislation would give customers more information and choice while reducing e-waste:
Consumers will be provided with clear information about the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to know if their existing chargers are compatible. Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charger.
These new commitments will lead to more reuse of chargers and help consumers save up to €250 million annually on non-essential charger purchases. It is estimated that discarded and unused chargers represent about 11,000 tons of e-waste annually.
The news is especially interesting for the iPhone, which is one of the last remaining and popular things to do with USB-C charging. In September, Apple showed its dissatisfaction with the proposed EU legislation, telling the Associated Press, “We remain concerned that strict regulation forces rather than encourages only one type of connector-style innovation, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.”
However, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, noted in a follow-up press conference that under the policy Apple could continue to have its own Lightning plug but would need to offer USB-C as well.
It is unclear how Apple will respond to EU policy. In May, it was reported that Apple was testing USB-C iPhones for 2023. A separate USB-C phone for the EU seems like an expensive and complicated long shot. It would be difficult to provide enough power and data via wireless options only. If iPhones moved to USB-C, old iPhone users might find themselves with a lot of Lightning-based wires, adapters, and chargers suddenly becoming useless.