The European Union has reached its decision: future iPhones sold in the region must feature a USB-C port by the end of 2024. This means that Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which has been in use for more than a decade and has proven to be a significant revenue generator for the company, will have to be phased out of future iPhones. At least those headed to the EU.
“We have no option — as we do around the world, [Apple] will comply with local regulations,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said on Oct. 25 at a Wall Street Journal tech conference when asked if the company will follow the EU’s single charging law.
While the rule technically only applies to consumer goods sold within the EU, Apple may be compelled to decide the fate of the Lightning port on iPhones destined for other markets. The USB-C standard is used by most commercial phones to charge and connect to peripherals, but iPhones do not.
Is it possible that future iPhones sold outside of the EU will also feature a USB-C charging port? Or will Apple make hardware changes based on regions, such as producing two iPhone models that support USB-C and Lightning, one for the EU and one for the rest of the world?
Apple already regionalizes iPhone versions, as seen with the iPhone 14. According to Avi Greengart, an analyst at sources, the US version only has an electronic SIM, while other models maintain the SIM slot. However, he believes Apple has compelling reasons to shift all iPhones to USB-C in the future.
For almost a decade, European legislators have pushed for electronic gadgets to incorporate a common charger in an effort to reduce cable clutter and e-waste. The legislation, which was part of the revised Radio Equipment Directive, was finalized in June before being overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament in October.
Its acceptance is largely regarded as a success for customers, who will soon be able to use a single USB-C charger for a variety of accessories and gadgets, including higher-wattage models such as gaming laptops and 4K monitors. Its acceptance was seen as a success for the environment as well. According to a European think tank, chargers generate up to 13,000 tons of e-waste each year in the EU, with life cycle emissions ranging from 600 to 900 kilotons in carbon dioxide equivalents.
Apple has strongly opposed the idea of a universal phone charger. According to the tech giant, such regulation might hinder innovation and worsen the e-waste problem by rendering the Lightning cable obsolete for perhaps a billion people worldwide. Apple, which receives payments from third-party companies that produce made-for-iPhone accessories, may possibly lose money on every Lightning cable and accessory that is compatible with the iPhone.
Despite Apple’s opposition, the tech giant is said to have tested a USB-C iPhone. Ming Chi Kuo, a well-known Apple analyst, expects that Apple will beat the EU deadline by a year, releasing a new iPhone with a USB-C connector in 2023.
Apple, for one, has been phasing out Lightning in other goods for several years. With the 2015 MacBook, the tech titan included USB-C. Later, with the iPad Pro in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020, and the iPad Mini in 2021, Lightning was replaced with USB-C.
In addition to a USB-C connection on a speculated 2023 iPhone, Kuo anticipates that numerous additional Apple accessories, such as AirPods, the Magic Keyboard, and the MagSafe Battery Pack, will transition to USB-C, though he did not provide a date.
USB-C (sometimes spelled USB Type-C) is a 24-pin USB connector system with a rotationally symmetrical connector. The name C solely relates to the physical configuration or form factor of the connector and should not be confused with the connector’s unique capabilities, which are specified by its transfer specifications.
USB 3.2, which was released in September 2017, is the successor to the USB 3.1 specification. It keeps the existing USB 3.1 SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ data modes and adds two additional SuperSpeed+ transfer modes via the USB-C connector that use two-lane operation and have data rates of 10 and 20 Gbit/s (1.2 and 2.5 GB/s).
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