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When will the iPhone be forced to use USB-C?

When will the iPhone be forced to use USB-C?

Today, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of new legislation that would eventually require all mobile phones sold in the EU to use USB-C ports for wired charging. The proposed rule, for which lawmakers reached a preliminary agreement in June, means Apple could remove the decade-old Lightning connector from its phones and switch to USB-C if it wants to continue selling them in one of its phones. Is. , Most lucrative global market.

The European Union aims to reduce e-waste. If more devices are interoperable with the same cable, the EU thinks fewer electronic devices and chargers will be thrown away. It is estimated that every year 11,000 tons of disposed and unused chargers end up in landfills, which he hopes will ease these regulations. It also seeks to save money by allowing consumers to reuse the charger (up to €250 million by its estimate) and by reducing the lock-in effect of proprietary accessories.

Now the question is, how soon will Apple be forced to make the switch?
The EU's new rules – which are technically amendments to its Radio Equipment Directive – have yet to be formally approved. Although they have been given the thumbs up by the bloc's parliament, the Common Charger Law still needs to be signed by the Council of the European Union and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. After this, it will come into force after 20 days.

But even after that happens, companies like Apple will still have an effectively two-year grace period designed to ease the transition to a USB-C future. According to a press release from the European Parliament, this means the rule is likely to come into force by the end of 2024. They will be applicable throughout the industry, regardless of manufacturer. But, as the only major smartphone maker yet to switch to USB-C (since 2012, every iPhone has used a Lightning connector), Apple is likely to see the company the biggest impact. ,

Apple releases a new flagship smartphone like clockwork at the end of every year, so it's safe to assume that we'll be releasing a new iPhone (which could be called the iPhone 16) with the rules up front. will apply. at the end of 2024. But while iPhones usually launch in September and EU law won't go into effect for 24 months after it's formally approved by the European Council, the iPhone 16 could launch just before the new rules go into effect. This will make the 2025 iPhone 17 (if Apple continues with its current naming convention) the first model to be forced to use USB-C for wired charging.

It's possible that Apple could make the change soon, but current regulations suggest that it technically won't. Today's press release from the European Parliament explicitly states that devices already on the market will not need to be recalled — so if Apple launches a Lightning-port iPhone before the deadline, it will continue to sell the phone. Will keep You can keep "The new rules will not apply to products placed on the market prior to the date of application," the press release said. This is a change from how the European Parliament was making rules back in June, when a spokesperson told The Verge that "there should not be products in the market that do not comply" when the rules are in place, indicating that USB Devices without -C port will have to be removed from sale.

This more forgiving phase makes it more possible for Apple to announce and launch the Lightning port-equipped iPhone 16 in 2024, before new EU rules go into effect. But reports suggest that it may be preparing to switch to USB-C much earlier. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently suggested that Apple may be ready to make changes in 2023 (when it is likely to release the iPhone 15). However, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is more cautious about the company's deadline, and recently reported that 2023 is the "oldest" that the company could make changes.
Beyond smartphones, the rules will apply to all kinds of electronic devices, including tablets, headphones, keyboards and mice, which means Apple will need to start offering everything from AirPods to Magic Mouse with USB-C ports for wired charging. , Laptops are also covered by law, but given a slightly longer implementation period, meaning they won't have to use USB-C for wired charging until early 2026. The EU regulations also note that small devices such as smartwatches or health trackers are exempt "when the small size of the product does not allow [them] to be equipped with [a] USB Type-C receptacle." "

EU product law only applies to goods sold in its member states, so it cannot force Apple to switch to USB-C for iPhones sold elsewhere in the world. That means Apple could limit its USB-C iPhones to EU markets or even exit the region entirely if it wants the iPhone to remain Lightning-exclusive. But given the size of the European market as a whole (it accounted for nearly a quarter of Apple's net sales in its last fiscal year) and Apple's insistence on offering as few versions of its products as possible, it seems That we'll see USB-C iPhones sold around the world as a result of EU law (the company did not respond to questions about how it plans to comply with the new rules).

If Apple really wants to avoid adding a Type-C port to its phones, it may ditch the wired charging port altogether. The rules state that phones must use USB-C for charging "as far as they are capable of being recharged via wired charging," leading to Apple removing the wired charging port entirely and charging. It becomes difficult to use some form of . Leaves the door open for the imaginary portless iPhone to be introduced. This is something that Bloomberg reports that employees of the company have discussed internally in the past, although it is unclear whether these discussions have moved out of the planning stages. The European Union is later planning similar standardization rules for wireless charging.

But a simple solution to the rules is not possible. The wording of the law means that Apple can't try to get around them by offering USB-C charging via a detachable adapter (remember?) while continuing to equip each iPhone with a Lightning port. EU law specifically notes that a USB Type-C port "must remain accessible and operational at all times." A detachable adapter isn't going to cut it.

Although it's been resistant so far, there's a lot more to be gained from Apple's switching to USB-C. Over the years, the Universal Connector has been upgraded to support higher and higher data transfer and charging speeds, with the latest specifications released by USB-IF allowing 240W charging and 80Gbps data transfer. In contrast, recent iPhones reportedly top out at 27W for charging and just 480Mbps for data transfer. No wonder Apple already uses USB-C a lot in its Mac and iPad lineup.

As a proprietary standard, Lightning has given Apple unprecedented control over the accessory market for its phones, but it hasn't kept pace with the specs of modern cables. When Apple introduced the Lightning port with the iPhone 5 in September 2012, Phil Schiller called it "a modern connector for the next decade". Well, the decade is just over, and the EU thinks it's time for Apple to move on.

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