EU wants to force all smartphone, tablet, and headphone makers to use USB-C charging port

In a move impacting Apple more than its rivals, the EU aims to have a common USB-C charging port for mobile phones, tablets and headphones under a European Commission proposal presented on Thursday in a world first. The move has been more than 10 years in the making.

EU wants to force all smartphone, tablet, and headphone makers to use USB-C charging port
Apple’s Lightning port


Under the Commission’s proposal, a USB-C connector will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles. Chargers will also be sold separately from electronic devices.

The EU executive will revise its eco-design regulation in the near future so that the external power supply is interoperable, which is the last step for a common charge.

Apple pushed back against the proposal.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” the company said in a statement.

“I have known these companies for years. Every time we put (forward) a proposal, they start to say ‘oh, it will be against innovation’. No, it’s not against innovation, it’s not against anyone. Like everything the Commission does, it’s for consumers,” he said.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s clearly against one company, Apple. And it clearly freezes innovation: “This is what you must use and, at the speed we operate, it’ll be a decade plus before you’re allowed to change it, if we ever even get around to it.” So, this wasteful quasi-governmental dictate is par for the course for the EU which comprises a whopping 5.8 percent of the world population.

This is just needless slow-as-molasses, bureaucratic, quasi-governmental meddling in the market.

If the EU had passed such a law when this was initially proposed, we’d all be stuck with MicroUSB today.

Regardless, soon 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. If anything, this misguided and late EU move only hastens Apple’s move to port-free iPhones (with likely even better water resistance).

In January 2018, Apple provided feedback on this issue to the 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.


  1. I have enough Apple and third party USB chargers for a lifetime. If cables and adapters are readily available, and manufacturers stop including chargers with every phone automatically, what is the problem?

  2. The phone industry had 10 years to get their act together and in the end the decision was made for them. The moral of the story is you negotiate in good faith and come to an agreement or the decision is taken out of your hands. Ten years…stop whingeing. Now you can flame me.

  3. Apple already supports USB Type-C connectors in some of its mobile devices. Why not all of them? There really is no reason not to do so other than a deeply rooted “not invented here attitude”.

    I’m a proponent of going to USB Type-C connectors on all mobile devices.

    I’m not a proponent of it being legislated by governments. Even further, I might lead the charge against any government legislating what protocols must be used over that connector when on mobile devices.

    Hell, if I had my way there would only be two copper data connectors starting two years from now and running through 2030 or later: USB Type-C and RJ-45. By the end of 2023 no one would be selling USB Type-A (any variant), USB Type-B (any variant), HDMI unique, DisplayPort unique, etc.

    USB Type-C connectors support many variants of USB protocols, multiple variants of ThunderBolt, multiple variants of HDMI, multiple variants of DisplayPort, Mobile High Definition Link, and much more. Hell, there are even implementations out there that support analog audio using USB Type-C connectors. In reality with an appropriate implementation there is an extremely wide set of protocols and information rates that can be done over a USB Type-C connector.

    USB Type-C connectors are much more flexible than a Lightning connector. They just are.

    I strongly suspect that the USB Type-C connector will be used for the next generation of both USB and ThunderBolt. Assuming that does happen and TB goes to 80 Gbps or higher, what more do you need in a mobile device?

    Apple could implement a chip driving the USB Type-C connector that supports USB 2.0 and newer, TB 2 and newer, HDMI 1.4 and newer, DP 1.2 and newer, and audio to give their mobile devices the greatest connectivity of any mobile devices. They could even implement a proprietary protocol that is Apple only on top of all the rest. Why not do so? Such an implementation cannot be done over a Lightning.rn

    1. I don’t mind Apple changing their connectors in the name of innovation, but if they want to do so I want them to commit to that new connector across every new Apple device released that year and stay with that connector for at least 5 years. You want your customers to commit to your line of products, that’s the least you should be able to do.

  4. “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”

    True, like having only one App Store. But the security…

  5. Like a broken clock the EU bureaucrats are right twice a day, good move. Apple has been dragging its feet for years because of rapacious profits, not consumer benefit. MDN, portless iPhones will be horror slabs, have you tried using AirDrop lately to move files? You think that’s how multi GB videos and thousands of photos are being moved at a time? Great moment to force Apple into USB-C so its in iPhone 14, better late than never. Apple is bigger than most governments, I have no problem with bigger bullies cutting this bastard corp down to size once in a while.

  6. Light bulb sockets are a universal size.

    Electrical sockets are a universal size.

    Gasoline pumps are a universal size.

    Why not for Apple and other tech giants?

    The waste from all the varying standards for over a decade is STAGGERING. Funny, I thought Apple was going GREEN and why not embrace a global standard?

    All that said certainly understand the need for innovation, but it won’t solve a nagging problem with tech waste.

    Excellent reasons and arguments, here:

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