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iPhones with USB-C connectors will be required starting in 2024 through EU-wide agreement on common charging ports


iPhones with USB-C connectors will be required starting in 2024 through EU-wide agreement on common charging ports

The pressure on Apple to produce USB-C iPhones instead of Lightning iPhones increased today, as the European Union agreed to make the charging port mandatory beginning in 2024.

According to recent reports, Apple is prepared for this, with the iPhone 15 expected to switch from Lightning to USB-C – though the company does have a backup plan…

Historical context

The EU has been discussing mandating a single charging point for so long that if it had done so when the idea was first proposed, the common standard would have been the dreadful microUSB.

After nearly a decade of debate and delays, the standard will now be USB-C, with the EU announcing last week that a final decision would be made today.

iPhones with USB-C connectors will be required beginning in 2024

The meeting confirmed, as expected, that a USB-C charging port will be a legal requirement for all smartphones sold in the 27 countries of the European Union by 2024.

USB Type-C will be the standard charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras in the EU by autumn 2024, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed today.

The interim agreement on the revised Radio Equipment Directive establishes a single charging solution for certain electronic devices. This law is part of a larger EU initiative to make EU products more sustainable, reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier.

Consumers will no longer need to buy a new charging device and cable every time they buy a new device, and can instead use a single charger for all of their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable, regardless of manufacturer, must have a USB Type-C port. Laptops will also need to be updated to meet the requirements 40 months after they go into effect.

For devices that support fast charging, the charging speed has also been harmonised, allowing users to charge their devices at the same rate with any compatible charger.

The Directive still needs to be voted on by the European Parliament and enacted by the European Council, but those are expected to be formalities.

What will Apple do in response?

This could have been a problem for Apple, which has kept a Lightning port on iPhones despite switching both Macs and iPads to USB-C – but recent reports indicate that the company plans to make the switch a year ahead of schedule.

Ming-Chi Kuo cited supply-chain evidence for Apple switching from Lightning to USB-C next year, implying that the iPhone 15 would be the first USB-C iPhone.

According to my most recent survey, the new iPhone 2H23 will ditch the Lightning port in favor of a USB-C port. In hardware designs, USB-C could improve iPhone transfer and charging speeds, but final spec details are still dependent on iOS support.column

A Bloomberg report a few days later confirmed this.

According to Bloomberg, while Apple is internally testing an iPhone design with USB-C instead of Lightning, the change will not be implemented until next year. This changes the so-called iPhone 15 lineup, which is expected to arrive in September 2023.

Apple may go portless

Although we expect Apple to follow the law, it has another option. The Directive includes the following language (our emphasis):

It is required that mobile phones and similar radio devices, if they can be recharged via wired charging, have a USB Type-C receptacle.

That means Apple would be perfectly legal to sell a portless iPhone with no wired charging port at all. Many expect the company to opt for this at some point in order to allow slimmer, sleeker devices with better waterproofing, but it appears we’ll see a USB-C iPhone first.

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