The European Union announced plans on Thursday to make the USB-C connector the standard charging port for all smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices sold across the bloc, a initiative that they say will reduce environmental waste.
The move will mostly affect Apple products, which use a different port for its iPhones.
The new law is likely to come into force in 2024 as it needs to first be passed by the European Parliament and then passed by the manufacturers. Besides phones, it will apply to cameras, headsets, portable speakers and video game consoles.
Wireless chargers won’t be affected, but the main change will come to iPhones, which now have a proprietary Lightning charging port.
“What are we offering? More freedom, less cost, “and less e-waste,” said Thierry Breton, the European trade commissioner, at a press conference on Thursday.
The move would represent a long-awaited but drastic step in product manufacturing decisions by the European Commission, the bloc’s governing body. Apple has long opposed the plan, arguing that it would stifle innovation and lead to more e-waste as all current chargers that are not USB-C would become obsolete.
However, if the law were enacted on the proposal of the European Commission, it would be illegal to sell electronic devices without USB-C charging ports. Apple will have to switch to USB-C for its products to be sold across the block, a commission official said, noting that it sold new iPads with such a charging port.
European Union officials and lawmakers in the European Parliament have been advocating a common charger since 2009, when there were more than 30 charging options on the market, now reduced to three. They argue that fewer wires are more convenient for users and better for the environment, as mobile phone chargers are estimated to be responsible for 11,000 tons of e-waste a year across the block, according to estimates. of the European Commission, the executive body of the EU. arm presented the law on Thursday.
But Apple also argued that if the European Union adopted a universal charger by 2009, it would limit the innovation that led to USB-C and Lightning connectors. In a statement on Thursday, Apple said that while it welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to protecting the environment, it supports a solution that leaves the device side of the charging interface open to innovation. .
Mr. Breton said on Thursday that he was familiar with Apple’s concerns. “Every time we try to come up with a proposal, such companies start saying, ‘It’s going to be against innovation,’ he said.
“It’s not against innovation, it’s not against anyone,” he added. “It’s for European consumers.”
Critics also say the European Union’s action is too late, given the decline in connectivity types in recent years. Half of the charging cables sold with mobile phones in 2018 had USB micro-B connectors, while 29% had USB-C and 21% were Lightning connectors, according to research published by the European Commission in 2019. The market share of USB- Charging port has most likely increased since most Android phones are now sold with it.
The European Commission said it will also require manufacturers to sell devices without chargers: If the bundled option is still available, it will have to provide a non-bundle option of the same product.
Adam Satariano contribution report.