Most modern Android smartphones feature USB-C ports, but soon that might be a requirement for all phones sold in Europe… including iPhones.

After announcing a provisional agreement in June  to create “a single charging solution for certain electronic devices,” the European Union has finalized that agreement and announced that starting December 28, 2024 all new phones, tablets, eReaders, digital cameras, wireless headphones, and many other gadgets sold in the EUI will be required by law to have USB-C ports. Laptops sold in the EU will also need to support USB-C charging starting in 2026.

USB-C cables (Baseus via Amazon)

The promise of a unified charging solution is that you won’t necessarily need different power adapters and/or cables for all your stuff. Some of us are already living in that world – I already have a laptop that charges via a 45-watt USB-C power adapter, and I can plug that same charger into my phone, tablet, or eReaders.

But I do have a few older devices like wireless headphones and Bluetooth speakers that have micro USB ports, which means I can’t use the same charger for those devices.

Still, by requiring all devices use the same charging standard moving forward, the European Union rule could dramatically cut down on electronic waste, since you won’t necessarily need to discard old chargers and cables when buying new devices and companies can more easily justify shipping products that don’t come with a charger in the box unless you pay a little extra for one.

Of course, not all USB-C cables or chargers are created equal. So you may still want to pick up a new one from time to time if you want support for fast charging, wireless charging, or charging multiple devices at once, among other things.

While the EU’s rules don’t necessarily apply to devices sold outside of Europe, it will likely have a wide-reaching impact. For example, if the rule finally forces Apple to release iPhones with USB-C ports, it’s unlikely that the company will decide to make USB-C iPhones for Europe while continuing to make models with Lightning ports for the rest of the world, as that would mean that accessory makers would have to produce two versions of every gadget that plugs into an iPhone.

via The Verge and Politico

This article was first published June 7, 2022 and most recently updated December 9, 2022 to reflect that the new rules have been signed into law and a date has been set

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  1. Kudos to the EU for being customer focused… and not company focused. The new 2024 iphone model lines up nicely with my upgrade schedule. If Apple does not introduce the new USB port in 2023, some customers may put-off upgrading until the 2024 model comes out. I wonder if one more year of lightning cable sales and a slight reduction in phone sales makes Apple more profit… than just introducing the USB port a year early.

    1. That depends on whether phone makers decide it’s worth the hassle of continuing to produce two versions of their devices. Odds are that phones sold in both the EU and UK will have the same ports/chargers. But there’s no guarantee that this will happen.

    2. The UK will probably become the dumping ground for older lightning powered versions of the iPhone while Apple adapts their production to usb-c on newer models.
      Let’s call it, the first identified Brexit benefit.

  2. I’d expect Apple, and then others, to simply drop all ports. Bluetooth audio, eSIM, wireless charging, no microSD slot. Just make a completely sealed phone.

    1. It would be hilarious if the USA model iPhone gets an upgraded “Wireless FastCharging” and the same old lightning connector.

      Whilst the EU model is the same, but the metal rim/housing doesn’t have a hole for the connector.

      They wouldn’t have to do anything, just make sure to market it as a “portless” phone. It would be the biggest corporate troll move.

      1. I wouldn’t find it very funny, however, because you know that if apple makes a portless iPhone, a whole bunch of Android device manufacturers would make fun of them for it, only to start making completely sealed off phones themselves two years later.
        And because if there’s no USB port that means there’s no bootloader access that means I look that little bit more freakish and weird for recommending something that’s physically impossible on a growing number of phones (using a degoogled OS).

        I don’t think they’ll do that though. I’ve heard they had a lot of input on the USB-C standard and were one of the first to adopt it and it’s already in most of their non-iPhone products. Besides, there’s still opportunity to force people to buy new dongles (but not as much as with a proprietary connector).

      2. Apple is such a giant in the US only. If you think people couldn’t live their lives without their iPhones in the EU you are mistaken. The phone market in the US is a hostage to carriers and monopolistic giants such as Apple and Samsung but the rest of the world is not held in such tight bounds to them. We don’t have to “just take it” whatever anti-consumer bull$h1t they come up with next.

  3. image is not good
    all charger have usb A and usb c cable
    only apple have charger with usb cusbC
    why not promoting a 2usb c cable not only one?

  4. While I’m happy that Apple will be forced to give up the lightning connector, I’m also concerned about what implication this could have on further innovation beyond Type-C.

    Is the entire world stuck on Type-C now, because nobody is going to make products with more innovative solutions, which can’t be sold in Europe?

    1. @Grant Russell said: “Is the entire world stuck on Type-C now, because nobody is going to make products with more innovative solutions, which can’t be sold in Europe?”

      Of course not. What this means is eventually all the phones will end up with two charging ports, one “legacy” USB-C port and one port that uses the latest technology that is far superior to USB-C. Of course as a result of this nonsense, all phones will still come with their proprietary non USB-C chargers and all phones will cost more to support the old nearly useless USB-C port.

      1. Clairvoyant? Given Apple’s preference for fewer connections and ports, two charging ports seems unlikely to me; I suppose to the contrary that the cost of manufacturing iPhones with a USB-C port in addition to those with Lighting ports will be relatively small and that Apple will simply produce a different model for the European market.

  5. Gotta love the EU. If we left regulations solely to the US and China, we’d all be drinking lead water from asbestos cups.

    1. Yeah and if we left regulations to the EU we would be have mandatory VGA cables in all electronic devices in 2022. This is more or less the effect of having mandatory Type C charging ports, by 2050 we’ll still be using this standard because of this regulation.

      1. If we left regulations to the EU, we would have had SCART RGB back in the CRT days instead of just composite on most TVs and S-Video if you were lucky. Europe seems to get ahead of things rather than lagging behind. As it is, left up to the corporations, we never actually have standardized standards, so this is indeed a step forward which is the point. As for the 2050 bit, USB-C is just a connector. I don’t see a problem in hoping it’s still viable in 2050. The connector is reversible, and it can be USB 2.0, 3.x, or Thunderbolt 3 & 4 right now.

        1. I actually had SCART RGB on my last CRT TV (a 32″ Bravia), it was just a matter of picking the right TV set yourself, instead of waiting for some regulation to decide what you have to use… And about the Type C connector itself, the EU efforts originally focused on Micro USB Type B, but try to guess what happened while they spent a good decade debating this issue? The legislation supposedly can get updated, but do you think that it would take less than a decade? And what is even the incentive in developing anything when there’s a legislative mandate to use the same connector forever?

          1. The point about SCART is that it was superior to other options. The EU’s regulation here is to mandate a superior connector(at least over micro USB). This is more like if they mandated SCART in the ’90s, than being stuck with VGA in 2022 to use your example. It is an example of good governance since the whole point is to standardize charging. Since this is primarily about power delivery, I’m not particularly worried about the USB-C connector becoming deficient for that purpose any time soon, unless potentially 240W is not enough. As for data transfer, the same connector(and it is the connector we are discussing specifically) can handle 80 gigabits per second so far. If something comes out to make those numbers obsolete, it will still be fast enough for most people because of diminishing returns. If a better port comes along for data, there’s no reason they can’t have a second port on a phone, which is probably a good thing anyway. I still see this as being a very good thing.

      2. The law is written in a way that will make it very easily adapt to the next standard. It’s just meant to do away with proprietary connectors and enforce universal charging standards to reduce electronic waste.

        Apple isn’t the only target–this law includes cameras and camcorders too. Sony, Canon, Panasonic, and JVC have been using proprietary power cables for years. Canon just announced their switch to USB-C; I’m looking forward to the other companies following suit. I’m also hoping this drives accessory manufacturers (monitors, lights, etc.) to do the same.

        1. That’s how the law is supposed to work in theory, but in practice mandating a specific connector will make it very hard and very risky for any single company, or even a group of companies, to propose a new connector. They could spend years developing a new standard and the EU could spend even more years evaluating it and eventually it might even get rejected. Why should they take this risk? Because of the EU we’ll stick with Type C until our hairs will get white and we’ll kick the bucket.

    2. You’re very right, we have the EU to thank for banning lead in solder for all consumer electronics. European buying power has practically assured that all consumer electronics worldwide are now lead-free. This has prevented enormous amounts of lead from contaminating soil and water around the world.

  6. I’ll believe it when Apple announces it. The lightning cables have built-in over voltage protection switches… which makes them superior to compliant Type C cables, for the case of unexpected high voltage.

    1. Type C cables have overvoltage protection as well, Apple will soon follow suit if they don’t mind losing millions of costumers in the EU. And after all Apple has been one of the first Type C adopters in the laptop market. The real issue is that probably we will have to use Type C for more than a decade now, considering the time that the EU typically needs to produce and update their ever-growing regulations.

      1. “Type C cables have overvoltage protection as well”, I think you meant to say “Although there are no USB Type C cables with overvoltage protection presently available for purchase, there is nothing in the USB specification that would prevent their implementation.” All Apple lightning cables (to USB A or Type C) will block voltages greater than 6V. Type C to lightning cables will allow voltages over 6V after the iphone communicates to the cable. I have seen the overvoltage protection kick-in when the phone has been disconnected from the cable, but I have not tried to drive more than 20V while the phone is connected.
        I have driven 30V on Apple and other USB Type C to Type C cables without any protection seen, and I expect that this is typically for all USB C cables.

        1. Not just that, but the design of the Lightning Port is actually superior to USB-C. It makes the expensive part (phone port) strong, while the cheap part (cable) is sacrificial.

          There’s only TWO things that Apple got wrong. Firstly, when it debut it should have been USB-3.0 spec instead of the USB-2.0 spec. This allows for larger bandwidth, better video out, and higher power for charge and reverse charge.

          The second part is that every Lightning Cable they sold came with really cheap plastic at the head which would bend, crack, and split open. They should have used a better material AND used a bracing silicone prevent that from occurring.

          Had Apple done so, their cables would last so much longer, far less people would complain, it would fly under the radar, and they would be inline with Android Manufacturers when it comes to specifications. It might have given them the leeway to make an update, a 2018 “Lightning 2” port, which would surpass most OEMs such as 50Gbps bandwidth and 100W Power compliance. It would have gotten them off the hook.

    2. Look at current iPads and Macbooks with USB-C connectors on both ends, let’s not even mention Lightning cables have USB-C on the charger side anyway – it’s apparently not a technical issue at all.

      What is jolting Apple is that they’re forced to give up the licensing fee they collect on third-party Lightning accessories as it’s their proprietary gizmo.