One proposal calls for a universal charging solution for phones and other devices, but Apple said that could stifle innovation.
The European Commission on Thursday tabled a proposal requiring phones and other electronic devices to share a USB-C charging port to reduce waste by charging people for new device chargers. This move will particularly affect Apple, which uses its Lightning connector instead of USB-C on its iPhones.
In addition to phones, the rules also apply to tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and portable video game consoles.
The revised proposal for the Radio Equipment Directive also calls for the harmonization of fast charging standards so that customers can buy new devices without a charger and provide clear guidance on the charging standards that their devices can support.
The proposal requires a vote in the European Parliament to become law, but this Parliament voted in favor of general tax rules last year. Device manufacturers have 24 months to adhere to the new rules.
“European consumers have long been frustrated with the incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, in a press release. “We’ve given the industry plenty of time to develop their solutions, and now is the time to legislate on a shared charger.”
In an email to CNET, Apple said it shares the European Commission’s commitment to environmental protection and emphasizes the goal of making all of its devices carbon neutral by 2030.
“We remain concerned that strict regulations that only require one type of connection stifle innovation rather than encourage innovation, which in turn harms consumers in Europe and around the world,” said an Apple spokesman.
But Apple, whose new iPhone 13 went on sale on Friday, has gradually switched to USB-C for many of its products. Connector technology debuted on the MacBook in 2015, on the iPad Pro in 2018, and the iPad Air in 2020. Last week, the company announced that the latest iPad Mini also features USB-C.
Apple, bring the C-type
Almost every other corner of the tech world has switched to USB-C for data and charging. Android phones migrated to USB-C ports years ago and are an essential part of Windows computers. The surcharge for USB-C accessories is also falling.
USB-C use for external drives, headphones, earphones, flash card readers, two laptop drives, a Nintendo Switch and its Joy-Cons, iPads, Android phones, hardware security keys, family Macs, a Microsoft Surface, and Google Laptop Pixel Slate. I have USB-C chargers in two cars and four rooms in my house. On the go, I use portable batteries with USB-C ports.
The annoying Lightning cable I need for my iPhone is becoming more and more automatic. Lightning was a good replacement for the bulky old 30-pin connector on the iPhone and the old USB options. Now USB-C is a much better alternative.
Apple also sees the benefits. IPad Product Manager Katie MacDonald said Tuesday that the USB-C port on the iPad Mini is ten times faster than Lightning and “connects to a broad ecosystem of USB-C accessories.” It’s ideal for everyone from amateur photographers to medical staff who scan patients with portable butterfly ultrasound scanners.
A USB-C iPhone also eases Apple’s strained relationship with European regulators, who want cell phones to use the same chargers so they don’t generate as much e-waste.
If you fill the $ 1,599 storage space for your iPhone 13 Pro Max with high-quality ProRes video, you might appreciate the faster Lightning technology for transferring your data. And when Apple cameraman Greig Fraser signs up for another iPhone ad, he doesn’t have to use the bulky Lightning dongle on a USB-C iPhone.
Why Apple isn’t fighting to sell USB-C iPhones
With millions of iPhones in use, downloading Lightning ports isn’t easy. Customers have invested in chargers and cables for homes, offices, and cars. Lightning is also used in AirPods trays and wired Apple headphones.
Switching to USB-C means swapping out the Lightning device. I’m old enough to remember how annoyed she cried when Apple dropped its 30-pin connector, and Lightning is much more established today than the old connector back in 2012.
Lightning has kept iPhones above the fray on some USB-C growth issues as well. It can be difficult to determine if a particular cable can handle the full performance and higher data transfer rate of USB. Some of these problems remain, but the benefits of USB outweigh the rest.