EU wants to force all smartphone makers to use the same charging port

Apple's Lightning port
Apple’s Lightning port

European Parliament:

To reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ life easier, MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] want binding measures for chargers to fit all mobile phones and other portable devices.

In the 2014 Radio Equipment Directive, EU lawmakers called for a common charger to be developed and gave the Commission powers to pursue this via a delegated act.

The Commission’s approach of “encouraging” industry to develop common chargers fell short of the co-legislators’ objectives. The voluntary agreements between different industry players have not yielded the desired results.

A common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices, MEPs will insist.

Last January, Apple provided feedback on this issue.

European Commission:

Apple stands for innovation. Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.

More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users. To be forced to disrupt this huge market of customers will have consequences far beyond the stated aims of the Commission.

Beginning in 2009, Apple led industry efforts to work together to promote a common charging solution. And with the emergence of USB Type-C, we have committed alongside six other companies that all new smartphone models will leverage this standard through a connector or a cable assembly. We believe this collective effort by many of the industry’s leading companies is better for innovation, better for consumers and better for the environment.

MacDailyNews Take: By the time the EU gets around to making this law (it was proposed back in 2014 and it’ll still take many more years, if they ever even get there), Apple’s iPhones and iPads won’t have any ports at all. As it stands even today, the Lightning port on our iPhones is largely superfluous.

22 Comments

  1. This is why Europe sometimes gets stuck in its own malaise. Force everyone to use the same port but then how does innovation happen? I wouldn’t want Europe to mandate the Lightning port even though I’m an Apple fan. Devices will change over time and what we don’t need to unimaginative legislating killing new advances and the entrepreneurial spirit.

  2. I’ve been wanting a USB-C port instead of Lightning on an iPhone in order to have consistency with the MacBook Pro. But even a stubborn guy like me can see the folly of mandating the same charging port for all smartphones. If they mandated that a few years ago, we could possibly have been stuck with Micro USB forever and would never have gotten USB-C or whatever will come after it.

  3. ‘Scuse me but “chargers” are not ports, they are at the plug end with the requisite voltage/amps output pre-set. If they’re referring to ports then how about clearing that confusion and maybe propose a future proof standard?
    Otherwise, stick the port in the wall…oh wait, all my wall sockets already have usb built in.
    This is going nowhere.

    1. What specific downside would there be for Apple to replace Lightning with USB-C? There isn’t a downside people. Apple was on the committee that developed USB-C and they use it for Macs. The only reason Lightning exists is to extort more money from customers. End of story.

      It is ludicrous for individual companies to dictate proprietary solutions for everything. If it wasn’t for standards backed up by law, you could realistically have incompatible plugs on everything in your home today. Admittedly old laws/standards persist (some of us would prefer MORE international cooperation so our silly massive old UK plugs can be replaced with continental wall plugs — but that would rely on coordinated regulatory reform, apparently that is too hard now) however total lack of government coordination is absurd. Are you pro-democracy or are you a corporate stooge trying to screw consumers and top off landfills with unnecessary electronic waste?

      Complete deregulation is never the answer. Nor is corporate dominance of law creation. Wise and appropriate regulation responsible to the citizenry en large is always best. Adopting USB-C for all mobile charging interfaces wouldn’t cause any real harm to Apple, but it would go to great lengths to keep unsafe and unreliable Chinese junk connectors from entering the market. Is this bad?

        1. Best compromise would be for North America to get with the times and upgrade its AC to 240 volts (already provided to most US houses for heating and large appliances), and for both the UK and NA to adopt the most common EU standard wall outlet. Efficiency gained, travel adapters could go away, and UK citizens would save tons of money. It would also usher in faster home recharging for electric vehicles, which are coming to urban areas like it or not.

          Too bad some people think incompatibility is a feature to be exploited for profit, and worse, think that proud political gridlock should stand in the way of technological sanity.

          1. The UK had a chance to get rid of it’s huge, pointless AC outlet by using the UK folding plug, but you blew it by obsessing about a rare fringe condition that would rarely happen, at the expense of every benefit. No other country has the problem that the UK plug is the solution too.

        2. You do know that UK plugs are fused because of the crappy wiring scheme used in UK buildings after WWII meant that wires would catch fire if a single device short-circuited? Ostensibly the logic was to reduce the wire diameter and conserve copper, but in practice very little was saved.

          No other country in the world followed the UK’s circular wiring scheme and instead used radial wiring with fuses/safety switches in a centralised location. Now most modern UK houses are wired radially, but you still have huge, enormous, chunky, anachronistic plugs that must stay fused because so much of your building stock will burn down from a short-circuit.

      1. Mike, if you think you are being “extorted” and gypped then do 2 things: Don’t buy Apple products, and get the hell out of this discussion forum for Apple products. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

  4. That would be great to have a standard to open markets up for 3rd parties for competition, competition always benefits the consumer. Apple since the Mac has been about handcuffing their customers thru so-called innovation and status symbol marketing. Apple does things different not because it better but to lock you in, to make you buy accessories from them. They were one of the firsts to fingerprint parts so you had to buy parts from them, they are against right to repair to force you back to them. It’s all about marketing and locking you in.

  5. This act inherently implies we’re at the ultimate state of technoloical development and would make it impossible to create a better port, unless it were completely 100% backwards compatible… which would be astronomically unlikely. This would therefore require that any new developments would need a second port be added to whatever device.

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