The EU agrees to give USB-C a mandate as a regular smartphone charger by 2024, contrary to Apple

Placeholder while article actions are loaded

The European Union will demand that all new smartphones and tablets sold within its borders have a common charging port by the autumn of 2024 – and laptops by 2026 – under a new preliminary agreement, which pushes technology companies like Apple to fall in line with other smartphones manufacturers who have largely adopted a universal port in recent years.

The European Parliament’s and the Council’s negotiators agreed on the law on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the move is intended to “make products in the EU more sustainable, reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ lives easier.”

The law, which still needs to be formally approved, requires all new smartphones, tablets, e-readers and portable speakers – among a long list of other small electronic devices – sold in the EU to use the USB-C charging port. The requirement for laptops will take effect in early 2026.

The small, pill-shaped port is already used in many smartphones and laptops, as well as Apple’s latest iPads and some of the previous generation MacBook laptops.

But the mandate puts Apple in a difficult position, as it has clung to its proprietary “Lightning” port on iPhones and the charging cases of AirPods in-ear headphones. The Verge, a technology news site, called European law “a major blow to Apple’s Lightning port”.

In the same way that California’s environmental and safety standards often lead to changes across the United States due to the logistical difficulties and economic impracticability of making different products for different states, the European Charging Port Act can have a far-reaching impact on handheld consumer electronics worldwide. .

In Germany, the EU’s largest economy, the three most popular smartphones are all iPhones, according to consumer survey site Counterpoint, with the fourth and fifth being Samsung Galaxy phones that use USB-C ports. In France, the block’s second largest economy, the iPhone’s top four places in the smartphone market, Counterpoint calculates.

Apple also recently brought back its proprietary “MagSafe” magnetic charger to the MacBook Pro, and announced Monday that it would do the same with its thinner MacBook Air laptops.

The Post’s Help Desk covered Apple’s announcement of new MacBook and iOS 16 features.

However, Apple has apparently prepared for the crash: Bloomberg News reported last month that in the midst of the looming possibility of European law, the company has tested iPhone models that use USB-C instead of its proprietary port.

Technology critics have for years lamented Apple’s persistence in maintaining its proprietary ports, noting that while many device manufacturers have adapted to the USB-C port, Apple’s unique charging medium leaves consumers with a tangle of different cables.

But EU moves could stifle innovation efforts against the complete abolition of charging ports, such as the use of magnetic contact chargers instead of ports to allow extremely thin devices, said Benedict Evans, an industry analyst. He wrote on Twitter that it was “difficult to see any meaningful consumer benefit” of the law, which he said banned “some ideas” as the only use of magnetic chargers.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. When the European law was proposed in September, the company said in a statement: “We remain concerned that strict regulation requiring only one type of link suffocates innovation instead of encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around world.”

When Apple stopped supplying wired headphones and wall plugs with its iPhones in 2020, they said the cut was for environmental reasons, although some pointed out that it was better for the company’s bottom line.