The European Union has just issued a requirement that electronic devices standardize their charging connectors and they’ve chosen the USB-C connector as the new standard. Because the EU is such a large market for electronic devices this means that manufacturers will be adopting the standard world-wide, including in the US.
This means that laptops, phones and other devices that use external chargers must migrate to USB-C connections over the next couple of years.
The current M1 apple notebooks already use USB-C as their charging connector, but even so, Apple isn’t happy that they will be forced to abandon the current lightning connector used on iPhones and iPads, at least for the European market. It remains to be seen if they will ultimately produce devices with different connectors for the European market than they sell here in the U.S.
Europe already requires all phones to be able to be charged with a USB-micro connector, but there’s a loophole in the rule that enables Apple to comply by including a USB-micro to lightning adapter with each iPhone sold to customers in Europe. The new rule appears written to foreclose that possibility.
EU studies show that EU residents currently dispose of 11,000 metric tons of charging cables each year and the rule is expected to dramatically reduce that number. Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president for a Digital Europe, said in a press release, “European consumers have been annoyed for long enough by the accumulation of incompatible chargers in their drawers. We have given the industry plenty of time to come up with its own solutions, but now the time has come for legislative action in favor of a universal charger. This is a significant gain for our consumers and our environment, in line with our ecological and digital ambitions.”
But there may be a loophole Apple can slip through in the new rule too. The rule only seems to apply to devices with charging connectors. If Apple switches to wireless charging as used on the Apple Watch then they can build a phone with no connectors at all.