What the EU USB – C mandate means for Apple – and users

The European Union (EU) announced this week that Most manufacturers of consumer electronic devices require the adoption of the USB Type-C charging standard by autumn 2024.

The unprecedented mandate is widely expected to disrupt Apple, which uses its products – including the popular iPhone series – the company’s proprietary Lightning connector protocol. This move means that iPhones and AirPods sold in the EU will have to switch to the more ubiquitous USB-C ports and cable connectors.

The regulation also requires devices to be clearly labeled to identify their charging and data transfer capabilities and addresses the “inconvenience experienced by consumers who are unable to charge their device due to the unavailability of a compatible charger. to them.

“Buyers will also be able to choose whether or not to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device,” says the the European Parliament said in a statement.

The ability of consumers to buy a device with or without cable could save users money in the short term, but it could also give Apple the same choice: not to carry chargers and cables with its devices, according to Ryan Reith, Deputy -President. of Mobile Device Trackers worldwide by research firm IDC

It also does not mean that Apple will switch all of its devices to USB-C worldwide, although some industry analysts and watchers believe that Apple is preparing to do so.

“Apple makes a lot of money on [proprietary] accessories, and its partners also make Lightning cables, ”said Reith. “So I don’t think this guide means transferring their entire portfolio to USB-C right out of the gate – not unless they are forced to do so.”

Jack Gold, chief analyst at J. Gold Associates, said he expects Apple could drag its feet to bring USB-C to the iPhone and AirPods in the U.S. market.

“It will depend on whether it sees two connectors as less of a manufacturing advantage than the increased revenue it could provide,” Gold said. “But eventually I doubt they will transfer all their products to the USB-C connector. And I think that’s a good thing for consumers. “

The IS directive of the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection applies to all “small and medium sized” portable electronic devices. This includes mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, headphones and earphones, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable.

Laptops must also be adapted to the requirements within 40 months of entry into force, the committee said.

“Today we have made Europe the most popular charger!” Parliament rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said in a statement. “European consumers have long been frustrated with multiple chargers accumulating with each new device. Now they will be able to use one charger for all their portable electronics. ”

The EU committee also introduced provisions on wireless charging as “the next evolution in charging technology and improved consumer information and labeling.”

Apple has not responded to a request for comment, but the company is already working on creating USB-C mobile devices, according to Reith.

“There have been iPads that have been USB-C compatible for a few years. They did not need to switch their iPad line to USB-C. They knew this was coming, ”said Reith.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple iPhone 15 include USB-C compatibility when it launches in the second half of 2023. The line-up of the iPhone 14, which is expected in September, is almost certain to continue using the Lightning connector.

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The EU directive seeks to provide technological transparency to consumers who receive clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to check the compatibility of their existing chargers.

For example, the quality and capacity of USB-C chargers differ greatly depending on the manufacturer. Some aftermarket cable manufacturers, such as those in China, claim to be able to provide all-in-one USB-C, Micro USB-C and Lightning cable to users. In fact, these products do not support fast loading capacity.

“These Chinese companies label these chargers as something they really are not,” Reith said. “A perfect example: go to Amazon and buy one of these chargers for $ 5 and try plugging any of these into your charger and see how slow it charges.”

The new rule will also reduce electronic waste, the EU Parliament argued, as it will lead to more reuse of chargers for different devices. And it could help consumers save up to $ 268 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

“Disposable and unused chargers are estimated at around 11,000 [tons] of electronic waste annually, ”said the committee.

USB-C is capable of support USB4, the latest and fastest USB specification, allowing data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. By comparison, Lightning transfers data at USB 2.0 rates of 480Mbps. Most modern devices support USB-C, including Android phones, Windows PCs, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X, as well as being used by the iPad Pro (3rd generation and above). later).

The latest version of USB-C offers native power support for 100W / 3A and up to 240W / 5A; it also supports USB Power Delivery for fast charging. In comparison, Lightning has native power support for 12W / 2.4A.

Requires fast charging USB-C cable to Lightning and 20W or higher power adapter, by Lifewire.

For the most part, Apple’s use of proprietary connectors is more controlled by peripheral Apple than by the need to be more innovative, according to Gold.

“I’m sure Apple would rather stay on its proprietary connector than standardize it on USB-C,” he said. “Apple makes a lot of revenue on its Lightening connector peripherals, as well as licensing fees from third parties. But from a consumer perspective, why do I need a special connector for my iPhone when all my other electronic devices can use any USB-C connector? ”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.



What the EU USB – C mandate means for Apple – and users

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