All phones will have to have USB-C in Europe, including the iPhone

by Jerry

We’re still processing what Apple announced at WWDC 2022, but behind the scenes, there are people concerned about the company. That’s because the European Union has come to the understanding that the USB-C port should be standard on all phones sold in the countries of the block, including the iPhone.

This discussion doesn’t come from today. The European Union has been discussing the standardization of a connection for recharging mobile phones and other devices for more than a decade. In 2009, the European Commission reached an agreement with about 15 manufacturers for the standardized use of micro-USB for this purpose.

It didn’t work out. The USB-C appeared later times as a much more interesting port than the micro-USB and, well, everyone knows that Apple does not want to give up the Lightning port on the iPhone.

But wanting is not power. No more.

It’s going to become law
On Tuesday (7), the European Union announced that its legislators have reached an agreement to make the USB-C port mandatory on mobile phones, tablets and cameras marketed in the region. Manufacturers are expected to adhere to the new rule by autumn (last quarter) 2024.

E-book readers, headphones, handheld video games and rechargeable speakers will also have to have USB-C ports within the same timeframe. Notebooks were included in this list, but with implementation period of up to 40 months after the law came into force.

It is true that the new legislation still needs to be adopted by Parliament and the Council of the European Union. But the official announcement gives the understanding that these steps are mere formalities. That means the chances of Apple keeping the Lightning port on iPhones sold in Europe are slim.

Apple: consumers will be harmed
For manufacturers of Android smartphones and other devices framed in the new legislation, little or nothing changes. The USB-C port is already standard on many of these products.

For Apple, it’s different. It is estimated that the brand sold, in 2021 alone, 56 million iPhones in Europe, all with Lightning, obviously. Not by chance, the company criticizes the proposal for a single connector. The argument is that standardization will limit the innovation capacity of the sector and, consequently, harm the consumer.

There is a possible but unlikely way out. The European Union requires USB-C to be adopted on devices that are rechargeable by cable. Some rumors point out that Apple is considering releasing an iPhone with wireless recharging only, so that the USB-C port is implemented only on the recharging basis.

But this strategy would likely generate additional costs and annoy users. All indications are that Apple will even adopt the USB-C connector on the iPhone.

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