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Apple will have to offer USB-C charging following EU ruling

Apple will have to offer USB-C charging following EU ruling
(Image credit: Apple)

A European law will make USB-C the standard charging port on all smartphones and tablets in 2024 – but the UK government is not "currently considering" implementing a similar law.

That will mean Apple devices sold in the UK could still use the company's proprietary Lightning port, whereas those sold in Europe will have to sport USB-C charging.

The law will come into effect in autumn 2024, the BBC (opens in new tab) reports. It is intended to make life simpler for consumers while also cutting down on waste. But critics – Apple among them – say it will stifle innovation.

Under current post-Brexit arrangements, Apple devices sold in Northern Ireland would have to use USB-C ports. That's because the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit agreement keep Northern Ireland inside the EU's single market for goods.

But a row is ongoing about how to reform the Northern Ireland protocol, so this situation could change.

The rule will apply to small electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. That means Apple's iPhones, iPads and AirPods will all be affected.

It will also apply to laptops, but laptop manufacturers will have 40 months after the law comes in to make the change.

Apple's laptops already use USB-C, as do some models of iPad. Apple is rumoured to be testing iPhones with a USB-C connection. We wouldn't be completely surprised if Apple went to USB-C across all its portable devices over the next couple of years.

The law will also let customers specify whether they want a new charging cable included with their new device. It is hoped this will cut down on duplicate cables, helping to save "up to €250m [£213m] a year on unnecessary charger purchases" and 11,000 tonnes of waste per year, according to the EU. 

MORE:

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Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • manicm
    A rather silly article, WHF needs to up its journalism game.

    If EU bans Lightning, who cares about UK laws??? Is Apple going to spend money developing devices with two different ports for different regions??

    Please! If Lightning is banned, its goodbye. Simples.
    Reply
  • fazalmajid
    It's not strictly speaking banned. Apple could put both USB-C and Lightning on a phone. Of course we know they are not going to do that.
    Reply
  • manicm
    fazalmajid said:
    It's not strictly speaking banned. Apple could put both USB-C and Lightning on a phone. Of course we know they are not going to do that.

    I would say that for owners of iPhones <= 4 years old the port is only used for charging, and 99% of these users will be using wireless buds - I have the cheapest Edifier in-ears (30 quid) and they still sound very good.

    It's only the most hardened audiophiles like John Darko who still used wired buds as cost is not an issue.

    So the port is effectively single purpose, but there will be a big blowback for those who've coughed up on the latest Apple chargers.
    Reply
  • fazalmajid
    I would guess more people use a Lightning to USB cable to connect their phone to their cars as you get better ability to browse through your music collection over a wired connection on most cars. There are also a fair number of gadgets with only a Lightning plug, like my FLIR One thermal camera. I’ve set aside my old iPhone 5 for it.

    I personally can’t wait for Lightning and micro-USB to be replaced everywhere by USB-C.
    Reply