EU Parliament debates forcing Apple to kill the Lightning port

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Anker PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector
The EU might require a change from Lightning to USB.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The European Parliament will soon vote on whether to require all phones, tablets and other mobile devices to use a single type of charger. If passed, this could force Apple to abandon its proprietary Lightning port in future iPhones.

EU Parliament wants common charging standard

Debate on a law requiring device-makers to use a single charging standard is scheduled in the EU Parliament today. A vote on a resolution will follow at a later session.

So far, lawmakers haven’t said what the new standard would be. Just that every mobile computer should use it.

Banning the sale of devices without this standard in Europe wouldn’t automatically force Apple to give up the Lightning port, but the alternatives come with obvious challenges. Apple could make a special version of its iOS handset just for the EU. It could add a second charging port to future iPhones. Or it could withdraw the iPhone from the continent entirely.

This isn’t a new issue, though it’s never been solved. Way back in 2014, EU lawmakers called for a common charging standard, asking device makers to voluntarily choose one.

Since that time, nearly all phone manufacturers moved to USB, with USB-C now the common standard for high-end handsets. Apple is the most notable holdout.

Lightning port vs. USB-C

Apple continues to put Lightning ports in all iPhones and many iPads, though MacBooks and recent iPad Pro tablets use USB-C.

And the company opposes this proposed EU legislation. Apple told the European Parliament last year:

“More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users.”

To further confuse the issue, a recent report from a reliable analyst indicates that a 2021 iPhone won’t have a Lightning port. But it wouldn’t use USB-C, either. It will supposedly be completely wireless.

Source: European Parliament (2)