The European Union has made its ruling: If Apple needs to promote new iPhones within the area, these gadgets might want to have a USB-C port before the end of 2024.

Which means Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which has existed for greater than a decade and established itself as a substantial money-maker for the tech large, will should be phased out of future iPhones. At the least those going to the EU. 

“We’ve got no selection — as we do world wide, [Apple will] adjust to native legal guidelines,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice chairman of worldwide advertising, stated at a Wall Street Journal tech conference on Oct. 25 when requested if Apple will adhere to the EU’s widespread charging regulation.

“We expect it might have been higher environmentally and higher for our clients to not have a authorities be that prescriptive.”

Whereas the laws technically solely applies to client electronics bought inside the EU, Apple could also be pressured to resolve on the destiny of the Lightning port for iPhones sure for abroad. Most industrial telephones cost and hook up with equipment utilizing the USB-C normal, however iPhones do not. Might this imply future iPhones bought outdoors the EU may also transition to a USB-C charging port? Or will Apple make {hardware} modifications by geography: Producing two iPhone variants to accommodate USB-C and Lightning — one for the EU and the opposite for the remainder of the world?

Apple already modifies iPhone fashions regionally, because it has performed with the iPhone 14. The US model solely has an electronic SIM, whereas different variants retain the SIM slot, as Avi Greengart, analyst at Techsponential, factors out. However he additionally thinks Apple has good causes to maneuver all iPhones to USB-C shifting ahead.

“…There are bigger ecosystem, safety, and accent concerns with the facility/information connector, so I believe it’s extra probably that Apple strikes all iPhones [globally] to USB-C within the iPhone 16 timeframe to adjust to European laws.”


Most commercially accessible smartphones have a USB-C port, however the iPhone doesn’t. It makes use of Apple’s proprietary Lightning port connector.


For greater than a decade, European lawmakers have pushed for digital gadgets to incorporate a standardized charger in a bid to cut back cable muddle and e-waste. The laws, a part of the amended Radio Equipment Directive, was finalized in June earlier than the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the rule in October. Its approval is broadly seen as a victory for customers, who will quickly have the ability to use only one single USB-C charger throughout a variety of equipment and gadgets, together with higher-wattage ones like gaming laptops and 4K displays. Its adoption was additionally seen as a win for the surroundings. A European think tank estimates chargers put as much as 13,000 tons of e-waste per yr within the EU and have related life cycle emissions of round 600 to 900 kilotons in carbon dioxide equivalents.

Apple has vociferously lobbied towards the thought of a standard telephone charger. The tech large argues such laws may stifle innovation and exacerbate the e-waste downside since it might presumably render the Lightning cable out of date for presumably a billion individuals worldwide. Apple, which collects charges from third-party firms that manufacture made-for-iPhone equipment, would doubtlessly miss out on the earnings generated from each Lightning cable and accent that is appropriate with the iPhone.

Regardless of Apple’s pushback, the tech large has reportedly put a USB-C iPhone to the check. Famous Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicts Apple will beat the EU mandate by a yr, equipping a brand new iPhone with a USB-C port in 2023.

“USB-C may enhance iPhone’s switch and charging velocity in {hardware} designs, however the closing spec particulars nonetheless rely on iOS assist,” Kuo wrote in a Could submit on Twitter.

For its half, Apple has been transitioning out of Lightning in different merchandise for a number of years now. The tech large included USB-C in 2015 with that yr’s MacBook. It later changed Lightning with USB-C on the iPad Professional in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020 and iPad Mini in 2021. Along with together with a USB-C port on a rumored 2023 iPhone, Kuo expects a number of different Apple equipment, together with AirPods, the Magic Keyboard and the MagSafe Battery Pack, to modify over to USB-C, however he did not supply a particular timeline.  

Learn extra: Will a USB-C iPhone Make Apple’s Lightning Cable Obsolete? Not Yet

In the long term, the iPhone’s shift to USB-C is poised to learn Apple clients — simply because the laws supposed. Since many of the firm’s iPads and Macs already use USB-C somewhat than Lightning, the transfer will streamline the charging expertise. Apple loyalists at present want three several types of chargers to energy the iPhone, MacBook, iPad and Apple Watch. For an organization that prides itself on its ecosystem, Apple provides a cumbersome charging expertise that runs counter to its ethos of simplicity.

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto rear of iPhone 12 Pro

Apple reintroduced its MagSafe charging know-how with the iPhone 12 lineup. This is an Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto the iPhone 12 Professional.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“It does make sense for Apple to [switch to a USB-C iPhone] throughout markets, because it is not going to solely improve the expertise of the customers, who’re additionally utilizing iPads or Macs, however may also simplify the processes within the provide chain,” Will Wong, a analysis supervisor for the Worldwide Information Company, instructed CNET.

Learn extra: Apple’s Dream for iPhones Could Actually Be a Nightmare

Even when Apple ultimately makes the change to a USB-C iPhone for all fashions, it is attainable the connector will solely be used for a short while. Rumors level to Apple abandoning ports on the iPhone altogether, shifting completely to wi-fi charging and connectivity like with Apple’s MagSafe equipment. 

“Portless is more likely to be one of many developments Apple is as we noticed the introduction of the MagSafe wi-fi charger,” Wong stated. “However, there are hurdles like slower charging speed to beat earlier than totally going portless,” 

A USB-C iPhone is probably extra probably than ever to hit shops worldwide, nonetheless. It is one thing that is been on Apple followers’ want lists for years as a USB-C port is extra handy and transfers information extra effectively than its Lightning counterpart. Whether or not that occurs in 2023, 2024 or past stays to be seen, however Apple is readying itself and its iPhones for a transition within the EU, on the very least. 

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