Why a USB-C iPhone could go global

Why a USB-C iPhone could go global

The European Union has made its decision: If Apple wants to sell new iPhone’s in the region, those devices should have a USB-C port before the end of 2024.

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 EU, 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 EU 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 a 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.”


Most commercially available smartphones have a USB-C port, but the iPhone does not. It uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port connector.


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 reportedly put a USB-C iPhone to the test. Noted Apple Analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicts Apple will exceed the EU mandate by one year, equipping a new iPhone with a USB-C port in 2023.

“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, Apple began including USB-C in its other products in 2015 with the macbook. The company later replaced Lightning with USB-C on the iPad Pro in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020, and the iPad Mini in 2021. In addition to including a USB-C port in a rumored 2023 iPhone, Kuo expects several other accessories from Apple, including AirPods, Magic Keyboard and MagSafe Battery Pack, to switch to USB-C, but didn’t offer a specific timeline.

Read more: Will a USB-C iPhone make Apple’s Lightning cable obsolete? Not yet

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 optimize the charging experience. Apple loyalists currently need three different types of chargers to power the iPhone, MacBook, iPad, 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.

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack placed on the back of the iPhone 12 Pro

Apple reintroduced its MagSafe charging technology with the iPhone 12 lineup. Here’s an Apple MagSafe battery pack installed in the iPhone 12 Pro.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“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.

read more: Apple’s dream for iPhones could actually be a nightmare

Even if Apple eventually switches to a USB-C iPhone for all models, the connector may only be used for a short time. Rumors point to Apple ditch ports on iphone altogethergoing entirely to wireless charging and connectivity like with Apple’s MagSafe accessories.

“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, there obstacles like slower loading speed overcome before being completely portless”,

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