EU Mandate Forces Apple and Other Electronic Producers to Adopt USB-C Ports
In a move widely welcomed by consumers and industry experts alike, the European Union (EU) has mandated that all electronic producers, including Apple, adopt USB-C ports for their devices. The new rule will come into effect in 2024, ending what is often a confusing array of charging ports currently on the market.
In 2009, the European Commission began collaborating with industry stakeholders to encourage the standardization of a common charger. However, this effort led to the adoption of three primary types of charging ports:
- Micro USB
Despite efforts to standardize charging ports, the industry didn't progress, leaving consumers to spend vast amounts of money on chargers and contributing enormous amounts of e-waste. To address this problem, the EU has now mandated that all electronic producers, including Apple, adopt USB-C ports starting in 2023. This move will bring much-needed standardization to the industry and significantly benefit consumers and the environment.
In this article, we take a closer look at the benefits of USB-C and what this new mandate means for electronic producers and consumers.
What is the USB-C Law?
In September 2022, the European Commission tabled the proposal. The following month, the EU parliament passed a law that all devices sold in the EU must have a USB Type-C charging port. In their press release, they outlined the timeline:
- End of 2024: all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras.
- From spring 2026: laptops
"Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port…"
With the gradual phase-out, you can continue to use older tech. Under the new rules, you'll no longer need a different charger whenever you purchase a new device. That same single charger can work for a whole range of devices.
Why is the EU making the switch to USB-C?
The EU Commission has been requesting unification for over ten years. While electronic devices are constantly improved and developed, industry captains mainly ignored calls to settle on a single charging cable. The European Commission tabled their proposal because companies within the industry have not collaborated and agreed on a standard.
Apple devices use Lightning cables, and the remaining phone companies use either USB-C or Micro USB. To avoid buying new chargers, consumers can become locked into purchasing from the same company, resulting in a smaller choice of modern devices.
As well as buying a new charger for the new device, people frequently buy spares when they travel. Individuals within EU countries spend 2.4 billion euros annually on chargers alone - an expensive inconvenience that will undoubtedly become a "What??" from future generations.
By making legislation that standardizes charger ports and requires dedicated labeling on products to advise capability, consumers will have more freedom to choose between manufacturers and devices. It will also significantly reduce the amount of e-waste, currently around 11,000 tons in chargers within the EU annually.
Why is USB-C mandatory?
The new USB-C charger rule aims to reduce the massive amounts of e-waste. By not needing to purchase a charger with every device and being able to use the same charger on electronic devices, the e-waste within EU countries should drop to around 1000 tons.
USB-C offers the following advantages:
- Versatility: USB-C is a versatile charging and data transfer standard that suits many devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
- User-friendliness: USB-C is reversible, and you can plug it in either way, making it easier to use.
- Compatibility: USB-C is compatible with many devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This can make it easier for users to connect and charge their devices.
- Speed: USB-C can transmit data at high speeds, making it suitable for transferring large files and other data-intensive tasks. All devices with a USB-C port will transfer data at the same rate, even 4k videos.
- Power delivery: USB-C can deliver power at higher voltages and currents, making it suitable for charging larger devices such as laptops.
- Standardization: USB-C is the standard for charging and connecting devices, making it easier for users to charge and connect their devices.
- Recycling: People won't have to buy new chargers with their latest smartphones, thus helping with the intention of recycling.
One charger that fits all new electronic devices will benefit the environment and individuals.
How is Apple adapting to the EU USB-C law?
Currently, Apple uses USB-C for MacBooks and iPad. So, it seems like they will transition to this widely accepted standard.
There is basically no choice: if companies do not comply with the new legislation, they cannot sell their devices in countries that are part of the EU after 2024. Apple senior executive Greg Joswiak confirmed in the Wall Street Journal that Apple devices sold within EU countries would meet the new legislation.
Joswiak could not confirm if devices sold in other parts of the world would still use Lightning cables/ports or whether they would also switch to USB-C.
What is next on the list for the EU parliament?
The EU parliament has long been looking at ways to improve the use of technology within the region, recently completing their digital Europe Program 2010 – 2020. The Goals for 2020 -2030 target 4 main areas:
- Skills: At least 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills. The EU should have 20 million IT specialists employed and increase diversity in the workforce with women in the roles.
- Businesses: 75% of companies should use cloud computing services, big data, and AI to improve their efficiency and competitiveness. Over 90% of EU small and medium-sized enterprises should reach at least a basic level of digital intensity.
- Infrastructure: The EU aims to provide gigabit connectivity and 5G coverage to all households and to support the growth of digital services. The EU seeks to increase the production of advanced and sustainable semiconductors to 20% of the worldwide output. Europe should also strive to have its first quantum computer and deploy 10,000 climate-neutral, highly secure edge nodes.
- Public services: By making essential public services available online, the EU can improve accessibility and convenience for citizens to access their e-medical records. Plus, encourage electronic identity solutions for 80% of citizens.
If the rest of the world aims for similar goals, then technology will change the lives of everyone within the next decade.
The EU USB-C mandate is a positive development for consumers. Not only does it make it easier for us to charge and connect our devices, but it could also save us money on purchasing additional chargers. Plus, it simplifies recycling to reduce e-waste. As technology advances, we'll likely see even more changes and improvements in how our electronic devices are designed and used.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.