USB-C iPhone, anyone? EU finalizes charging standard rule

It's officially official: Mobile devices will be required to use USB-C from 2024, with laptops following in 2026

After an initial agreement in June, the European Parliament today voted overwhelmingly to approve a USB-C charging standard that will force electronics manufacturers to ditch other ports, proprietary or otherwise. 

With 602 votes in favor, 13 against, and eight abstentions, the EU made the final call to make USB-C the port of record for all phones, tablets, and cameras sold in the European Economic Community from the end of 2024. Laptops will be required to use USB-C beginning in 2026.

Alex Agius Saliba, EU MP for Malta and the rapporteur for the new rule, described it as future-proof because it includes the allowance for setting future charging standards, and that it would benefit everyone from consumers to the environment. "We have waited more than 10 years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past," Saliba said. 

Along with the aforementioned electronics, Saliba said that a number of different device types had been added to the regulation over the past Parliament session. "We continued to lobby … to extend the scope of this proposal to more products. This was one of the biggest achievements if you look at the initial proposal from the European Commission," Saliba said.

Per the EU Parliament's announcement, "headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds," and any other device charged with a cable and drawing up to 100 watts will fall under the rule's scope.

The new rule will also require device manufacturers to include dedicated labels about the charging characteristics of new devices so that consumers would be more easily able to tell if their existing chargers were compatible.

The European Commission's decision in June drew interest from US officials who were keen on a similar standard. Not long after, three Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, asking the department to consider similar regulations. 

Perhaps no business has been looked to for a reaction during the fight for standardized chargers as much as Apple, the biggest tech company to hold out against adopting USB-C, which long ago became the norm for Android devices.

Apple, on the other hand, has been holding out on ditching its Lightning Port, which it said would be bad for consumers by forcing them to trash old chargers, as well as – somehow – bad for innovation. 

According to Bloomberg, Apple has already been testing new iPhones equipped with USB-C ports ahead of the EU mandate. Apple already equips its laptops and multiple iPad models with USB-C, making the iPhone one of the only devices in its lineup that could support it, but doesn't. ®

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