Watch out Apple: EU moves closer to making us all use USB-C

European smartphone users are on the verge of not having to worry about buying just one charger for all their devices.

Earlier in 2022, the EU unveiled a pretty neat plan: reduce e-waste by requiring all smartphones to use USB-C, the near-ubiquitous connectivity standard.

Yesterday, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted to approve the Commission’s proposals, 43 to 2, taking the legislation another step closer to fruition.

One charger to rule them all

A full vote for all MPs is now expected next month, confirming how to negotiate with EU member states on the exact rules of the legislation.

For anyone making Android smartphones in 2022, this news is rather, well, not news: almost all major Androids now have a USB-C connection.

But for Apple, which uses its own (ubiquitous) Lightning standard, this was quite an interesting – and potentially huge – development.

The EU rules, which are due to come into force in 2026 once all the details are fully worked out, apply to almost all electronic devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops, headphones, etc. The idea is that consumers would only need one cable to charge and transfer data between devices.

A good idea – for everyone except Apple

Reducing e-waste is a very noble goal – and important as the climate crisis deepens.

“With half a billion chargers for mobile devices shipped to Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tonnes of e-waste, just one charger for mobile phones and other small and medium-sized electronics would benefit everyone,” says the MEP Alex Agius Saliba.

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“It will help the environment, further contribute to the reuse of old electronics, save money, and reduce unnecessary costs and inconvenience to businesses and consumers,” he continued.

“We propose a truly global policy intervention, based on the Commission’s proposal by calling for the interoperability of wireless charging technologies by 2026 and improving the information provided to consumers with dedicated labels. We are also widening the scope application of the proposal by adding more products, such as laptops, which will have to comply with the new rules.

Apple itself has actually started shipping new iPhones without a wall plug or headphones, citing environmental reasons. The EU rules go further and would require a complete overhaul of how the iPhone manages its ports.

Since iPads and MacBooks come with USB-C, it seems possible that iPhones from 2026 will too.

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