It’s decided. Europe makes USB Type-C charger mandatory for all smartphones

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadOct 06, 2022 | 12:49

It’s decided. Europe makes USB Type-C charger mandatory for all smartphones

Apple says they have no choice but to comply with EU charger rules. Photo: Getty Images and EU

Finally, the day is here. The European Union (EU) has officially adopted a law making USB Type-C chargers mandatory for mobile phones and most other electronic devices in the region. The deadline is autumn of 2024. It's no guessing that iPhone maker Apple will be the most affected. 

What happened? On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the law mandating USB Type-C chargers for most electronic devices. 

  • This law comes after 10 long years of the EU trying to make a rule around a common charger. 
  • There were 602 votes in favour of the law, 13 against and 8 abstentions. 
  • The law follows a 2009 agreement between the EU and the electronic device industry to comply with a common charger, which Apple had famously refused. 

What devices will be affected? Mobile phones, tablets, headphones, consoles, and other small devices will be affected come 2024. 

  • From 2026, the law will also be applicable to laptops.  

Who will be affected the most? While the rule doesn't majorly impact the android market, which had adopted USB Type-C chargers for a long time, it will impact iPhone maker Apple the most. 

  • Apple's devices, notably the iPhone, use a lightning port charger. Now, Apple will be forced to design new iPhones with USB Type-C charging ports in the EU. 
  • It needs to be seen whether Apple will make its products specifically for the EU, or whether it will force a change worldwide. 
  • There were also reports that Apple is already testing iPhones with USB Type-C charging ports which could be launched in mid-2023
  • Also, some of Apple's devices, like iPads, already have USB Type-C charging ports. 
  • There are rumours that Apple may do away with the charging port in its phones altogether. It is said to be testing wireless charging
  • Samsung and Huawei will also be affected as some of their smaller devices like wireless headphones, earphones, etc using a different charging port. 

Why? While it is definitely a relief for customers to not be burdened with a maze of wires for their various devices, the rule has a much deeper impact. 

  • The EU estimates that this will save $247 million for consumers, who would otherwise need to spend a lot buying various compatible chargers.
  • The EU has also long argued that in the long term, the rule will reduce electronic waste. Though, in the shorter term, the transition period for tech companies will generate more e-waste.
  • Environmentally, it will reduce the nearly 11,000 tonnes of e-waste generated by chargers. 

The argument against it: Apple says such a law will kill innovation in the long run. 

  • There is also a possibility that consumers will be forced to foot the bill during the transition period.

The EU's law on universal chargers is world's first, and countries are also taking note, including India. The government of India is also exploring the possibility of adopting a common charger for most electronic devices.

Last updated: October 06, 2022 | 13:01
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