In 2009, electronics giants Samsung, Nokia and Huawei came together and agreed to use a standard charger for their devices. During the event, a relatively new phone manufacturer was present and signed: Apple. However, the company did not agree to the agreement when it debuted its new phones with different charging ports.
Until now, it seemed unlikely that things would change until a new law came into force and forced Apple to adopt the USB-C charger. And this EU law it could be that.
After years of waiting for the industry to agree on a single solution for charging electronic devices, the European Commission has finally stepped in and forced the USB-C port to be the standard in the future. The proposal, which still needs the European Parliament’s omission, is not limited to telephones, but also extends to a number of electronic devices, such as tablets, headphones, portable speakers, video game consoles and cameras.
Voluntary signing in 2009 did reduce the number of chargers from 30 to 3, but with 420 million portable electronic devices sold in the EU each year, the problem remains unresolved.
According to a report by the commission, the average EU consumer now owns three mobile chargers. However, 38% of consumers have faced problems because chargers are not interoperable and more than € 2.4 billion is spent annually on stand-alone chargers with 11,000 tonnes of waste generated by the disposal of unused chargers.
To address this, the commission has revised the Radio Equipment Directive, which requires USB-C to be a common port and separates the charger from the sale of a device. It also requires manufacturers to provide details on the charging performance of their devices and harmonization of fast charging technology, which will allow users to use a single charging cable for all their electronic devices.
Here is a small revolution in our daily lives! Our proposal for a common charger for mobile phones and other devices was adopted today. There are no more tangled cables in our drawers in her hallway #DigitalEU #EndChargerChaos pic.twitter.com/hmLN5vCi2P
– Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) September 23, 2021
BBC cites a 2018 report stating that 50% of chargers sold in the EU had micro-USB ports, 29% had a USB-C connector and 21% had a Lightning connector used only by Apple . While most new Android phones now come with a USB-C connector, the proposal will directly affect Apple, which recently announced the iPhone 13 with the Lightning connector.
In a statement The Cupertino-based company said this strict regulation “suppresses innovation instead of encouraging it“and the movement”will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.“According to the BBC, the company already has plans to make its devices and their use carbon neutral by 2030, and claims that this move will force Apple users to dispose of the cables they currently use. Which will lead to more e-waste.
For its part, Apple is already working to reduce e-waste by removing headphones and charging connectors from its boxes, claim the company. But the recent move has been in the works for some time and is not a complete surprise for Apple. The company is preparing for this result, as its iPad and MacBooks are currently equipped with USB-C ports, which Apple calls “Thunderbolt”. So, the only abandoned device is the iPhone.
The EU proposal will enter into force only 24 months after it is approved by Parliament. This should give Apple enough time to change its iPhone. However, the mandate implicitly has room for innovation and the addition of a long-awaited new feature to smartphones: wireless charging. If Apple decides not to take the USB-C route just to oppose the European Commission, we’ll be happy to see them “innovate” there.