European lawmakers voted by a margin of 602 to 13 in favor of a long-planned directive that will force phone, tablet and camera makers to use a common charging standard, USB-C, by the end of 2024. The news has been announced. Tuesday in a press release from the European Parliament.
The law also applies to headphones and earphones, satellite navigation systems, e-readers, mice, keyboards, portable game consoles and speakers. And for laptops, by the way, although laptop manufacturers have more time to implement the change: for this category, the law does not come into force until spring 2026.
It’s been happening for a while. Provisional approval was announced in June, but the European Parliament was pushing for a common charger standard as early as 2014.
It should be noted that this law technically only applies to devices sold in the EU. But it’s highly unlikely that a phone maker would choose to make and sell two versions in order to offer USB-C in Europe and Lightning in the US, for example. Additionally, U.S. lawmakers are themselves working on legislation to make the same stipulation.
Unless it’s able to push to overturn the law before the end of 2024, Apple now seems sure to adopt USB-C for its iPhones and iPads within the next two generations. But while we can debate cause and effect, it already seemed likely. Sources report that iPhone will switch to USB-C in 2023 and AirPods cases will do the same. The iPad has already begun the transition to USB-C, and there’s only one model left to make the switch, likely later this year.
The other option, particularly for the iPhone, would be for Apple to skip the USB-C stage altogether and move to a portless design that relies entirely on wireless charging. One wonders, however, if the company would be able to muster a convincing argument in favor of such a design: it would make the waterproofing easier to guarantee, but the iPhones are already very resistant to water, and any gain of internal space (potentially filled by a larger battery cell or other components) would likely be outweighed in customers’ minds by the loss of what remains the fastest method of charging and transferring data to and from from a phone.