‘One charger to rule them all’ could be a reality soon as EU proposes mandatory USB-C on devices, including iPhones

By: |
September 23, 2021 8:14 PM

The rules are also going to apply to devices like tablets, portable speakers, headphones, cameras and video game consoles, and manufacturers will need to make fast charging standards interoperable.

Only phones and devices supporting wired charging will need to have a USB-C port. (Image via IE)

The European Union is looking at making it mandatory for all smartphone companies to switch to a common USB-C charging port. This includes forcing tech giant Apple to switch its current lightning port, and therefore, Cupertino is likely to be impacted most due to it, since many other brands more or less use USB-C ports themselves. The intent of the rules is to cut down the volume of electronic waste, as this would let people reuse their existing chargers and cables even when purchasing new devices, instead of having to switch to a new one.

The rules are also going to apply to devices like tablets, portable speakers, headphones, cameras and video game consoles, and manufacturers will need to make fast charging standards interoperable. The information regarding the charging standards supported by their devices would also need to be shared by the manufacturers to the customers, as per the proposed rules. However, the proposal only covers wired chargers and not the wireless ones. This is because the EU believes that a lot of innovation is possible in wireless charging technology.

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This means that only phones and devices supporting wired charging will need to have a USB-C port. Accordingly, if the rumours of Apple’s portless, wireless charging-supporting iPhone are true, that device will not need to conform to these rules.

In order for these proposed rules to become law, the proposal – Radio Equipment Directive – would need to be passed via voting in the European Parliament. Once it becomes a law, manufacturers would be given a timespan of 24 months to conform to these rules. As things currently stand, back in early 2020, the European Parliament had voted in favour of new rules supporting a common charger, and therefore, the proposal now brought out by the EU’s European Commission is likely to be passed by the vote.

The biggest impact is likely to be felt by Apple, as it is the most notable outlier. It never adopted a micro USB in its phones and only offered a Micro USB to 30-pin adapter, and now also, it only uses a lightning port, even as some of its MacBooks support USB-C.

Following the European Commission’s proposals, Cupertino has issued its disagreement in a statement, stating that imposing such a restriction would stifle innovation and not encourage it. This, it said, would harm the consumers in Europe as well as the rest of the world. It had earlier also disagreed with the proposals and had said that forcing people to switch their Lightning accessories to adhere to the standard one would instead create more electronic waste. While this statement may seem like Apple’s vanity of assuming that iOS users would continue to stick to its newer devices, it does have some credibility to issue the statement. Apple has stopped shipping charging bricks or earbuds with iPhones from last year in a bid to reduce e-waste generated from old iPhone users switching to newer ones.

However, if this proposal is indeed passed and Apple is given a time of 24 months to switch to USB-C ports, it is more likely that the tech giant would adopt wireless charging for its phones and do away with charging ports altogether, especially since iPhone 11 and later models support wireless charging along with the lightning port.

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