After many years of debating, the European Parliament finally announced a provisional agreement establishing a single charging standard for electronic devices. The new law aims to reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ lives easier. Charging devices with a common USB-C standard brings a lot of improvements not only to the charging speed but also many other benefits. We have a dedicated article explaining all of the advantages of using USB-C.
Under the new rules, consumers will be able to use a single USB-C cable to charge all of their devices, including “small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.” The list includes: “Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.” Laptops will also have to comply with the new ruling 40 months after the law becomes effective. The law will become compulsory for all manufacturers in the categories shown above by autumn 2024.
The new law will also allow consumers to save over €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases since users will be able to spend a single fee on buying a fast charger that should – in theory – support all of their devices for many years. Removing the bundled chargers will also help reduce the estimated 11,000 tons of e-waste from the market.
The press release also mentions that wireless charging technologies are also likely to be governed by new future laws. “The European Commission will be empowered to develop so-called delegated acts, on the interoperability of charging solutions.”
As of 2022, most manufacturers have already transitioned to USB-C, leaving only Apple the odd one out. Apple is still using the Lightning port on its iPhones, the entry-level iPads, and nearly all peripherals, accessories and wearable devices, including AirPods and the Magic products. The new rules will force Apple to switch to USB-C on all of its products if it wants to sell them in the EU.
How is this going to affect the industry?
We are unlikely to see any significant changes, and the new USB-C standard isn’t expected to affect the price of products in any of the categories. Many, if not all, manufacturers have switched over to using USB-C ports on their devices many years ago, and even laptop makers are using the port. However, the standard doesn’t always allow powerful gaming laptops to receive 160W+ power using a single cable, hence why proprietary chargers are still sometimes necessary for some high-end computers.
The most notable change we will see is when Apple releases an iPhone with a USB-C port, and when the company finally updates its entire lineup of products with the common charging port. According to Apple, there are more than 1 billion active iPhones globally, contributing to e-waste and forcing consumers to spend extra money on chargers and new lightning cables. The lightning port was innovative and a great solution when it was announced back in 2012 alongside the iPhone 5, but it has become outdated in just a few years after USB-C started to take off and become the new standard for all devices.
The new law will also prevent companies such as Nokia from introducing low-end devices with the fragile and outdated microUSB ports, making it easier to charge budget and affordable devices in the years to come.
USB-C Everything: One cable to rule them all
Although the new EU law will only apply to EU countries, the recent changes will force Apple to switch over to the new standard globally. Producing separate devices for Europe and the rest of the world doesn’t make any sense for Apple. It would add unnecessary costs and extra steps in manufacturing processes, introduce delays, and hit Apple’s profit margin.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is expected to switch to USB-C in the second half of 2023, ahead of the new EU rule. Apple is rumored to also switch over all of its peripherals and wearables, including the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, AirPods, and other accessories and devices.
There you have it, folks, it took many years, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel where we’ll finally be able to use a single cable to charge all of our devices. The transition will take a couple more years, but we’re glad to see such a move come into effect, forcing everyone to play a fair game, and making it easier for us to charge our devices.