The European Union has made its decision: If Apple wants to sell newin the region, those devices should .
That means Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which has been around for more than a decade and established itself as a sizable revenue stream for the tech giant, will need to be phased out of future iPhones. At least those who go to the EU.
“We have no choice, as we do all over the world, [Apple will] comply with local laws.” Greg JoswiakApple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a Wall Street Journal Tech Conference on October 25 when asked if Apple will adhere to the EU’s common charging law.
“We think it would have been better for the environment and for our customers if a government wasn’t so prescriptive.”
While the legislation technically only applies to consumer electronics sold within the European Union, Apple may be forced to decide on the fate of the Lightning port for iPhones bound abroad. Most business phones charge and connect to accessories using the USB-C standard, but iPhones don’t. Could this mean that future iPhones sold outside the European Union will also move to a USB-C charging port? Or will Apple make hardware changes by geography: produce two iPhone variants to accommodate USB-C and Lightning, one for the EU and the other for the rest of the world?
Apple already modifies iPhone models regionally, as it has done with the iPhone 14. The US version only has an electronic SIM, while other variants retain the SIM slot, as Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart points out. But he also thinks Apple has good reason to move all iPhones to USB-C in the future.
“… There are broader ecosystem, security and accessory considerations with the power/data connector, so I think Apple is more likely to move all iPhones [globally] to USB-C in the iPhone 16 time frame to comply with European regulations.”
For more than a decade, European lawmakers have pushed for electronic devices to include a standardized charger in a bid to reduce cable clutter and electronic waste. The legislation, part of the reformed Radio Equipment Directive, was finalized in June before the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of the rule in October. Its approval is seen as a win for consumers, who will soon be able to use a single USB-C charger in a variety of accessories and devices, including higher-powered ones like gaming laptops and 4K monitors. Its adoption was also seen as a victory for the environment. A group of European experts estimates chargers generate up to 13,000 tonnes of e-waste per year in the EU and have associated life cycle emissions of around 600 to 900 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Apple has vigorously lobbied against the idea of a common phone charger. The tech giant argues that such legislation could stifle innovation and exacerbate the e-waste problem, as it would presumably render Lightning cable obsolete for possibly a billion people worldwide. Apple, which collects fees from third-party companies that make made for iphone accessories, you would potentially lose the earnings generated by each Lightning cable and accessory that is compatible with the iPhone.
Despite Apple’s pushback, the tech giant has predicts Apple will exceed the EU mandate by one year, equipping a new iPhone with a USB-C port in 2023.put a USB-C iPhone to the test. Noted Apple Analyst Ming Chi Kuo
“USB-C could improve iPhone transfer and charging speeds in hardware designs, but final spec details still depend on iOS compatibility,” Kuo wrote in a May post on Twitter.
Before the impending EU vote, the tech giant had been steadily transitioning to USB-C in other products. It was incorporated into MacBooks in 2015, iPad Pro in 2018, iPad Air in 2020, and iPad Mini in 2021. In addition to the iPhone 15, Kuo expects other Apple accessories, including AirPods, Magic Keyboard, and MagSafe Battery Pack, to be supplied. switch to USB-C, but didn’t offer a specific timeline.
In the long run, the iPhone’s switch to USB-C is bound to benefit Apple customers, just as the legislation intended. Since most of the company’s iPads and Macs already use USB-C instead of Lightning, the move will streamline the charging experience for customers. Apple loyalists currently need three different types of chargers to power their iPhones, MacBooks, iPhones, and Apple Watch. For a company that prides itself on its ecosystem, Apple offers a cumbersome charging experience that goes against its ethos of simplicity.
“It makes sense that Apple [switch to a USB-C iPhone] in all markets, as it will not only improve the experience for users, who also use iPads or Macs, but also simplify processes in the supply chain,” Will Wong, research manager at International Data Corporation, told CNET.
Even if Apple does eventually switch to a USB-C iPhone for all models, there are valid arguments that it will be a short-lived solution. Rumors point to Apple ditching ports on their iPhones altogether, leaving the traditional plug-in charger in the past. That potentially means USB-C could be a stopgap measure before Apple enters a wireless future.
“Portless is likely to be one of the developments that Apple is looking at, as we saw the introduction of the MagSafe wireless charger,” Wong said. “However, thereovercome before being completely portless”,