The European Union has proposed a plan to force smartphone and other electronics manufacturers to fit a common USB-C charging port on their devices. Most Android phones today already support USB-C but Apple’s iPhones are likely to have the highest impact who still use their lightning cable.
The European Commission is doing this in order to reduce e-waste so that people can reuse their existing chargers. Manufacturers will also have to make fast charging interoperable with other brands and this rule applies not only to smartphones but also to other devices like tablets, speakers, headphones, etc.
What comes in favor of brands though is that this rule only applies to wired charging devices meaning phones may switch to exclusively wireless charging and not provide a charging port entirely. EU commissioner Thierry Breton said in a press conference, adding that “there is plenty of room for innovation on wireless.” We might actually see the rumored portless iPhone now thanks to this proposal.
This is still a proposal at the moment from the Radio Equipment Directive. Unless it is voted for and passed in the European Parliament, this will not become official law. The parliament has already voted in favor of new rules on a common charger in early 2020, indicating that today’s proposal should have broad support. If this proposal passes, manufacturers will have 2 years to comply with the rules meaning Apple can take action up to roughly the iPhone 15.
“Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that,” said commissioner Thierry Breton. “With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.”
This new policy will reduce e-waste and will also standardize the ports that devices use which is a win for consumers. Apple is likely to have the biggest impact but we already saw them switch to USB-C on the recent iPad meaning the iPhones could also switch to USB-C or become entirely portless. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what they do!