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USB-C iPhone seems closer than ever after new EU vote on charging standards

Published Apr 21st, 2022 7:45PM EDT
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

A recent report claimed that the iPhone 14’s Lightning port isn’t being replaced by USB-C, but Apple will increase the transfer speeds on the Pro models. The same story said Apple is getting closer to launching a portless iPhone, with MagSafe reportedly playing a role in handling data transfers on the device. On the verge of that report, news from the European Union dropped that made the USB-C iPhone seem even more inevitable.

The EU is getting closer to mandating a universal charger from every smartphone maker, which obviously includes Apple. The iPhone maker is the only holdout in the business, as every other brand has already switched to the USB-C standard.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted this week in support of legislation that would force Apple to add USB-C charging to the iPhone in the near future. Only two members of the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted against the proposal, with 43 supporting the universal chargers.

iPhone 13 Pro Lightning Port
iPhone 13 Pro Lightning Port Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The new EU rules

The legislation would cover all battery-powered electronic devices that can be recharged with a cable, not just smartphones. USB-C connectors should be available on phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, headphones, headsets, game consoles, portable speakers, etc.

All manufacturers would have to comply, Apple included. The only exemptions to using USB-C cables for charging would concern devices too small to accommodate the port. The list includes smartwatches, health trackers, and sports equipment. But not the iPhone.

The MEPs believe that a standard charger for portable electronic devices would reduce e-waste. Buyers would no longer have to purchase new cables every time they buy a new device, as USB-C would service all of these gadgets.

Moreover, the EU committee wants to see clear information and labeling on new devices about charging options. Also, device makers should mention whether a product includes a charger. Apple removed the charger from the iPhone box in 2020. Currently, all iPhone models that Apple sells come with chargers in the box. These are USB-C to Lightning cables that require a USB-C charger.

Apple iPhone 12 Review
Apple iPhone 12 MagSafe wallet. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

When will the USB-C iPhone launch?

Finally, MEPs want the European Commission to develop a strategy by the end of 2026 for minimum interoperability of any new charging solution. This would also reduce e-waste and prevent “lock-in” effects that proprietary charging solutions might create.

The iPhone already supports a universal wireless charging solution in addition to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe charger. As for adopting USB-C on the iPhone, it’ll be interesting to see whether Apple will actually have to comply.

The MEPs only agreed to revise the Radio Equipment Directive in the region. That means the new rules are yet to be enforced.

That said, the move to requiring a universal charger on electronic devices seems inevitable. The EU might force Apple to ditch Lightning in favor of USB-C on iPhone. However, when such legislation passes, vendors will likely have several years to make the switch.

Rather than going full USB-C, Apple might launch a portless iPhone. It’s unlikely the EU can force vendors to use USB-C ports on devices that use only wireless battery charging. The wireless chargers themselves might have to support USB-C charging, according to the same proposed rules. But that’s just speculation at this point.

The European Parliament will have to approve the draft legislation next month. Then MEPs will have to start talks with EU governments on the final stage of the legislation. It’s unclear how long it would take until the EU can force Apple to adopt USB-C charging on the iPhone. However, it’s safe to say that it will not be present on the iPhone 14.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.