Apple must replace Lightning with USB-C for iPhones from 2024

European Union lawmakers have reached an agreement on legislation that will force all future smartphones sold in the EU including Apple’s iPhones, to be equipped with the universal USB-C port for wired charging by fall 2024.

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The rule will also apply to other electronic devices including tablets, digital cameras, headphones, handheld video game consoles, and e-readers. Laptops will have to comply with the rule at a later date.

The legislation has been under development for more than a decade, but an agreement on its scope was reached this morning following negotiations between different EU bodies.

After iPhone and Android customers complained about needing to use separate chargers for their phones, the controversy has raged on for more than a decade.

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A rule requiring mobile devices to have a standard charging port is intended to allow users to charge and transmit data across devices with only one cable, potentially decreasing electronic waste, saving money, and enhancing charger safety and interoperability.

Health trackers, smart watches, and some sports equipment will be exempted because they are too small to have a USB-C connector. The regulations will still apply to larger devices in those categories.

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Apple has lambasted the concept, stating that standardizing charging will stifle innovation and result in a mountain of electronic waste.

Apple iPhones use Lightning connectors to charge, but Android devices use USB-C connectors. Apple is testing iPhone 15 handsets with USB-C ports. The iPhone 15 will be released in the autumn of 2023, while the iPhone 14 series will retain Lightning ports for communication and charging this year.

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The EU intends to use it to cut down on e-waste. According to the EU Commission, the new law will prevent about 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions caused by old and inoperable chargers.

Apple has previously taken safeguards, removing not only the included headphones but also the power source from iPhone packaging in recent years. The company also released a Lightning to USB-C cable at the same time. According to Apple, this has resulted in reduced packaging waste and the reduction of over two million tons of CO2 emissions.

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