Apple bid au revoir to Lightning charger amid EU law change

7th September 2023
Kristian McCann

Apple has finally bowed to EU pressure to change their Lightning adaptor charging head to USB-C. This concession means the company's new iPhone announcement on 12th September will almost certainly the device feature a USB-C charge point.

The tech giant currently stands as an outlier in the smartphone market, as its phones and other smart devices, use its proprietary Lightning adaptor, unlike most other smartphone brands, which use USB-C.

This follows an EU law, called the common charger directive, which requires phone manufacturers to adopt a common charging connection by the end of 2024 to save consumers money and cut waste. Despite the law being approved in 2022, Apple has been contesting the ruling ever since until now.

Apple hit out at the law when it was first announced in 2021 for 'stifling innovation', yet the company shortly after started producing its latest iPads with the use USB-C port. Equally, all iPhones since the iPhone 8, launched in 2017, have supported wireless charging.

The current iPhone 14 now looks to be the last Apple device to exclusively use the Lightning adaptor.
Although the ruling only effects Apple devices in the EU market, the move could see the tech giant change to USB-C across its catalogue to avoid having to make a different version for the European market alone. USB-C offers a higher power delivery rate than Lightning and delivers a faster charge under the same voltage.

The incoming rule covers a range of "small and medium-sized portable electronics", including: mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, mice and keyboards; GPS devices, headphones, headsets and earphones, digital cameras, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers.

Any of these charged using a wired cable will have to have a USB Type-C port, regardless of who makes the devices. Laptops will also have to abide by the rules but manufacturers have longer to make the changes.

The EU has been getting increasingly strict with how tech giants like Apple operate in its sphere of influence. Early this week, its Commission included the iPhone producer alongside the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Meta, in a new ruling that will see them face stricter rules due to their levels of digital control and influence.

According to the EU, the new rule will save consumers up to €250m a year on unnecessary charger purchases and cut 11,000 tonnes of waste per year. The changes are expected in the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro devices which are set to be unveiled next week at the firm's annual autumn event.


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