At the Wall Street Journal event on Tuesday, Apple announced that it would switch to USB-C chargers for its upcoming iPhone models. This announcement came the day after EU legislators approved a common charging standard that will apply to all smartphones sold in the EU starting in 2024.
Greg Joswiak, head of global marketing at Apple, said at the Journal’s Tech Live event that the company will “obviously…have to comply” with the EU ruling and that “we’ve got no choice.”
While acknowledging the change, Joswiak hinted that the business wasn’t overly happy about being compelled to make it by EU legislators, noting that more than a billion people already have devices that use Apple’s Lightning chargers.
Joswiak further asserted that the proprietary Lightning cable and then the USB-C thread would not have been created if Apple had complied with the EU’s initial demand to stick with the outdated Micro USB charging cable, which was unreliable and easily breakable.
Joswiak continued, “The company is currently open to governments telling them what they want to achieve, but Apple’s engineers should have been left to come up with a mere solution to accomplish that rather than being required to follow one.”
The Apple marketing chief further argued that modern charging bricks with detachable cables had primarily solved the issue of separate chargers for different devices, depending on the device being charged.
The new common charging standard for portable devices that the EU has adopted received final approval from legislators earlier this week. By the current end of 2024, all smartphones, tablets, headphones, cameras, gaming consoles, wireless mice, and keyboards must all have a USB Type-C charging port to comply with the new regulations.
In addition, by the spring of 2026, all laptops sold within the bloc must abide by this regulation. EU lawmakers claim this will generate less electronic waste, and people will only need to carry a single charger for all their devices. Along with Apple’s iPad tablets, almost all current Android devices use USB-C chargers. In addition, apple’s latest Macbooks support USB-C charging in addition to the company’s exclusive Magsafe charger.
When the switch takes place has yet to be specified by Jowsiak. Although the EU’s regulation won’t take effect until late 2024, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claimed that the USB-C charger was “basically a lock” for the iPhone 15 of the following year. Apple’s tablets now support USB-C charging following the release of the new 10th-generation iPad. Apple’s AirPods will need a redesign to support USB-C, but they still need to be assessed using a lightning cable.
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Gurman claimed that Apple’s move to USB-C is merely a stopgap until the company fully adopts wireless charging on all of its devices, essentially producing a “portless” iPhone. Gurman made this claim in his newsletter published earlier this month. In a likely effort to anticipate this change, the EU stated in a press release earlier this month about the common charging standard that it was also successfully working to mainly “harmonize interoperability requirements” for wireless charging by the end of 2024.
Since nearly all the main devices that support wireless charging—including Apple’s iPhones—are compatible with the interoperable Qi charging standard, this move will likely encounter less opposition.
$300 million. The EU claims its citizens spend that much on charger purchases yearly.
The European Parliament voted resoundingly in favor of mandating a common charger standard for all the new mobile devices that are sold in the bloc by the end of 2024, a move that will force Apple to mostly switch over to USB-C chargers for its new upcoming iPhones.
The law will also help standardize fast charging across all devices that support it, according to the press release, but it is not specified in the freedom which standard will be used.
The current state of fast charging across various devices is that smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi and chipmakers like Qualcomm have implemented their proprietary measures. The most likely candidate for the EU’s standardization mandate is currently USB-PD (Power Delivery), used by companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung.
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Wireless charging guidelines. It may also be necessary to enforce uniform standards for wireless charging in light of rumors that Apple is considering creating an entirely “portless” iPhone in the future. By the end of 2024, the European Commission will “harmonize interoperability requirements,” according to the press release. However, since almost all smartphones that support wireless charging, including Apple’s iPhones, rely on the interchangeable Qi charging standard, this shouldn’t be a problem.
111 000 tons. That much electronic waste is produced annually throughout the EU by chargers discarded or left unused.
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The most vocal opponent of this EU move has been Apple, which uses the exclusive Lighting connector on its iPhones and also other portable devices. Apple’s iPads and also MacBooks have been using USB-C chargers for quite some time now, despite the company’s previous statement that it “remains concerned that the strict regulation mandating just one type of real connector stifles innovation rather than again encouraging it, which in turn will also harm consumers in Europe and also around the world.”
Apple Reaffirms That iPhones Will Comply With New EU USB-C Law, But International Questions Remain-
After years of rumors, Apple has officially stated that it will adhere to the new EU regulation mandating USB-C for all smartphones with physical ports. However, there could be a catch.
The new European Union law requiring the use of USB-C on all the smartphones sold in its member countries starting in the fall of 2024 was confirmed by Greg Joswiak, then Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing, while he was speaking at the leading Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live event. However, the Lighting port on iPhones worldwide might only be gone for a while.
Joswiak declined to answer a question from Joanna Stern of The WSJ about whether Apple would switch all iPhones globally to USB-C, which was a given the additional production line complexity any split would bring about. However, he was also direct in terms of timing, saying that “the Europeans are the main ones dictating timing for European customers.”
Though this claim suggests Apple will switch to USB-C for its iPhones in late 2024, it is interesting to note that the company might circumvent regulations by adopting a fully wireless charging model. Something that has already been exposed.
Despite this, numerous leaks suggest the universal connector will be added to the lineup and even arrive a year early in 2023 with the iPhone 15 range. Whether this will apply to all models or just the Pros is a subject of conflicting reports. However, it would be logical for Apple to test this out on at least a few models in advance.
Joswiak made it abundantly clear that Apple was unhappy with the new law, claiming that the company has “been in a tiny bit of a disagreement” with the EU. He contended that adopting a universal charger standard would stifle innovation and generate a lot of electronic waste. According to cynics, the natural source of Apple’s annoyance is the exclusivity of the Lightning connector, as the company cannot charge a licensing fee for USB-C.
Even though it was always likely, Apple might not adhere to the new EU regulations. Due to its continued refusal to offer iPhones with chargers in Brazil, the company currently accrues millions of dollars in fines from the government. Earlier this year, the Dutch government also fined Apple €5M/week for ten weeks for failing to comply with requirements for alternative payment systems.
The reprieve might only last for a while if Apple does continue to market iPhones with Lightning ports outside of the US. To cut down on e-waste, other nations, including the US, are also looking into implementing universal charging standards. MagSafe isn’t likely to become a viable standalone alternative to wired chargers for several years due to its slow charging speed, heat buildup, and high cost.
Switching to USB-C for all iPhones globally is a no-brainer. Yes, Apple will lose some licensing royalties, but as MagSafe gains popularity, some of this will be partially offset. In addition, a custom USB-C iPhone X sold for over $85,000 at auction last year due to its popularity with customers, and its widespread use may give Apple’s standard iPhones the boost they need right now.
Will a USB-C iPhone render the Lightning Cable obsolete for Apple? Not yet –
Given the new EU requirements, the switch to USB-C for the iPhone appears inevitable. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, asserted that the company has “no choice” but to “comply with local laws” as it does everywhere else in a speech at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Lightning cable will disappear soon. On the contrary, given how many accessories still support it and how well-liked older iPhones are, the Lightning port may significantly impact Apple’s lineup more than you might think.
It’s no secret that Apple products are increasingly using USB-C. Except for the ninth-generation iPad from 2021, it is on every iPad in the company’s current lineup. Additionally, Apple’s MacBook Pro and Air models come with USB-C ports.
However, consumers and tech skeptics have been waiting for USB-C to come to the iPhone. Even a modified iPhone X with a USB-C port sold for $86,001 on eBay last year. Why else would you want to charge your Mac, iPad, and iPhone with the same cord? In the long run, a more straightforward charging process will be made possible by the EU’s new mandate.
However, there is a chance that consumers may switch between chargers to power new iPhones and legacy accessories during the transition period, which could lead to some friction.
In addition to the iPhone, a few other products need a Lightning connection for wired charging. AirPods earbuds, AirPods Max, the first-generation Apple Pencil (curiously the only version that functions with the new iPad with USB-C port), Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard are some examples of these gadgets. If a future iPhone comes with USB-C, owners of these devices may still find themselves switching cables.
Inquiries from CNET about whether Apple intended to keep using the Lightning port on future iterations of these products went unanswered by Apple.
Keeping in mind that only some iPhone buyers choose the most recent model is crucial. When a new iPhone is released, Apple frequently offers discounts on earlier models. Take its current lineup, which continues to include the iPhone 13 from the previous year and the iPhone 12 from 2020.
After releasing the iPhone 13 in September 2021, Apple kept the iPhone 11 in the main lineup at a lower price of $499. Apple’s 2023 lineup will likely include some Lightning-powered iPhones if it continues its current practice.
Even though many consumers might rush to buy the most recent iPhone, there is still a sizable market for older iPhones. Despite its 2019 launch, Counterpoint Research found that the iPhone 11 was the fifth most popular smartphone in 2021. 15% of US iPhone sales in the March 2022 quarter were made up of the sales of the iPhone 11, then iPhone SE, and 4-year-old iPhone XR, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
In a separate Counterpoint Research report, it was found that refurbished iPhones are also well-liked and that Apple controls more than 40% of the global market for second-hand phones.
Given that Lightning is the charging standard for iPhones manufactured after 2012, it’s safe to assume that anyone who buys refurbished iPhones in the future will want to keep their Lightning cables. Given that customers sought to avoid high prices and make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions, according to Counterpoint’s report, the demand for refurbished phones increased by 15% in 2021.
As other daily expenses increase in price due to inflation, people may be more likely to hang onto their current phones for longer. The International Data Corporation predicts that as a result of weaker demand due to inflation, global smartphone shipments will fall 6.5% in 2022.
According to Assurant, an insurance company that also aids businesses in creating device trade-in programs, the average age of traded-in smartphones has also surpassed three and a half years for the first time. More Lightning cables will be available as long as older iPhone models are still in use.
Owners of iPhones will benefit in the long run from the switch to USB-C. One cable will now be able to charge the majority of modern iPads, Macs, and eventually iPhones thanks to the change, which is exactly why the EU made USB-C mandatory in the very first place.
The change occurs at a perfect time because iPhones are less dependent on wired connections as a result of advancements in wireless charging, the rise in popularity of Bluetooth accessories, and then Apple’s new MagSafe connection system.
But these kinds of changes take time. And there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding Apple’s compliance with the EU’s ruling. We don’t yet know if Apple will switch to USB-C in 2023 or if it will wait until 2024, for instance. It’s unclear whether Apple will use USB-C exclusively for European iPhones or if it will become the norm everywhere.
The introduction of a USB-C iPhone, however, does appear to be a step toward the use of a single universal cable for all devices. But it won’t take place immediately.