India follows EU's example in requiring USB-C charging for smart devices

Move for consumer welfare and preventable e-waste as nation seeks to ramp up electronics production

India is on a path to require USB-C charging ports in almost all smart devices following actions taken by an inter-ministerial task force.

Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said the move is "in the interest of consumer welfare and prevention of avoidable e-waste."

The broad consensus in the meeting was that USB-C would be required for electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops – but "feature phones" could end up with a different charging option. A sub-committee was formed to determine the fate of wearable devices.

But things won't change overnight. The move toward USB-C will be done in phases to ensure industry and consumers alike have time to adapt.

A similar effort from the EU began last June and became official this October. Beginning in 2026, laptops sold in the EU will be required to use USB-C while phones, tablets, and cameras will make the switch in 2024. The mandate even applies to iPhones in spite of Apple's resistance to dropping its proprietary Lightning charging system.

With the EU already on the path toward USB-C, countries like India could end up as dumping grounds for obsolete phones if they don't follow suit. The US is also urged to adopt USB-C standardization.

India is considered a mobile-first country. Its digitization came at a time that allowed the country to skip the desktop PC revolution that occurred in the West. Pre-pandemic, the country was already undergoing what Google referred to as a "seismic digital transformation" – only to be further boosted by the pandemic. Its digital economy is forecast to surpass $1 trillion as early as 2025.

With regard to its electronics industry, the government set goals to quadruple production by 2026. Exports have an even more ambitious growth rate of 750 percent by the same year.

As of 2022, India manufactures electronic goods worth $76 billion, with just $16 billion of that sent to export. The goals take electronic goods production to $300 billion and export to $120 billion in just four years.

To make the goal a possibility, the country's electronics and IT ministry adopted the slogan "first globalize, then localize" – and if India's going to globalize, it makes sense to get in on the change to USB-C early. ®

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