EU passes law forcing Apple to switch to USB-C by 2024

EU passes law forcing Apple to switch to USB-C by 2024

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iPhone X with USB-C port
R.I.P. Lightning ...
Photo: Ken Pillonel

The European Parliament voted in an overwhelming majority Tuesday to enforce USB-C as the standard charging port across a wide range of consumer electronics. The law will come into effect by the end of 2024.

With the legislation passed, Apple has a couple of years to complete the transition of its product lineup to USB-C. The company continues to use the Lightning port on iPhone and some accessories for charging purposes.

USB-C will become the ubiquitous charging port in the EU

The European Union legislators passed the proposal with 602 votes in favor, 13 against and eight abstentions. The lawmakers say the directive will benefit the environment and consumers by reducing e-waste. In the EU alone, old chargers generate 11,000 tons of e-waste annually.

The law requires “all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.”

By the end of 2024, all smartphones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU must transition to USB-C for charging. From spring 2026, this mandate will extend to laptops. The rules will not apply to products launched before the directive goes into force.

With a standard charging port, consumers will no longer need to buy a separate power adapter when they buy a new smartphone or camera. It also ensures that devices with fast charging support charge at the same speed, irrespective of the power adapter used.

The EU first proposed using USB-C as the standard charging port in September 2021.

The European Parliament also wants to standardize wireless charging solutions, making them interoperable. It set the end of 2024 as the deadline for this initiative.

It’s time to say goodbye to Lightning

The ruling mainly affects Apple, as many of its devices continue to use the proprietary Lightning charging port. The Cupertino giant was among the first to go all-in on USB-C with its 2016 MacBook refresh, but it has stubbornly stuck to Lightning on iPhones and various accessories.

With the law now passed, Apple has no other option but to adopt USB-C. You can expect AirPods, mice, trackpads and other Mac, iPhone and iPad accessories with a Lightning port to transition to USB-C as well.

Since the directive comes into effect at the end of 2024, the company could technically launch the iPhone 16 that year with the Lightning port. But there are already rumors that the iPhone 15 will switch from Lightning to USB-C next year.