European Union lawmakers have agreed on legislative proposals that would force all future smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, to use the universal USB-C connector for charging. In addition to phones, the rules also apply to other electronic devices such as tablets, digital cameras and e-readers. In addition to the use of the common charging connection, the harmonization of the fast charging standards was also agreed.
The European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection announced the agreement in a tweet ahead of a press conference scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CEST (6:30 a.m. ET) today. We will update this story with more details from the conference.
The deal would have the biggest impact on Apple, which is the only major smartphone maker still using a proprietary connector instead of USB-C. In 2021, Apple sold 241 million iPhones worldwide, around 56 million of them in Europe.
We have agreed on the common charger!
✔️Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras and more #USBtypeC
✔️harmonized fast charging technology
✔️Deconsolidation of charger sales from device sales
Press conference at 12.30 p.m. CEST ➡️ https://t.co/TCBXxzIEdr pic.twitter.com/29JmeL0nxe
— IMCO Committee Press (@EP_SingleMarket) June 7, 2022
The regulations are an attempt to reduce e-waste in the EU by making chargers for electronic devices interoperable. Legislators hope that in the future phones will no longer need to have a charger in the box, as buyers will already have the appropriate cable and charger at home. The EU estimates that the amount of e-waste produced across the bloc was over 12 million tonnes in 2016.
The European Commission announced the current plans for the legislation last September, but the bloc’s effort to force manufacturers to use a common charging standard dates back over a decade. In the years since, Android manufacturers have focused on Micro-USB and then USB-C as the common charging standard of choice, while Apple has moved from phones with its proprietary 30-pin connector to Lightning.
Apple has resisted EU attempts to force them to use USB-C on their phones. “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating only one type of connector is stifling innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will hurt consumers in Europe and around the world,” said a spokesman Reuters last year. It also argues that a switch to USB-C would be forced create e-waste instead of reducing it because it would obliterate its existing ecosystem of Lightning accessories.
Still, there have been reports from Apple that the company may be preparing to switch its iPhones to USB-C charging. Bloomberg reported last month that the company is internally testing iPhones with USB-C, and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed it could make the switch as early as next year. Aside from its phones, Apple has been a big proponent of the USB-C standard and is already using it on its laptops and high-end iPads.