Electronic devices sold in the EU must have USB-C charging ports by 2024

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,721   +1,171
Staff member
TL;DR: The European Council has affirmed its "common charger directive" after overwhelming EU parliamentary approval. The regulation only needs to be formally signed by the presidents of the EU and EC. It will mandate that small chargeable electronics, including laptops, adapted the USB-C charging standard. It kicks in in 2024 for most equipment and in 2026 for laptops.

The European Council (EC) officially approved its USB-C mandate on Monday. The President of the European Parliament and the President of the European Council only need to sign off on the rule. Earlier this month, the European Parliament passed the common charger directive in a landslide vote of 602-13. Electronic manufacturers will have to design devices sold in the European Union with USB-C charging by the fall of 2024. Laptop makers have until the spring of 2026 to comply with the EC's directive.

"We all have at least three mobile phone chargers at home. Looking for the right charger, either at home or at work, can be quite annoying," said Czech Minister for Industry and Trade. "On top of this, these chargers amount to 11,000 tons of e-waste every year. Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste."

The regulation also requires manufacturers to allow customers the choice of purchasing devices with or without chargers included. Apple and others have already begun shipping phones without chargers. This stipulation of the rule does not force them to include chargers. Instead, it wants products that currently bundle in a charger by default to offer an "unbundled" option. The Council will evaluate this part of the directive for four years. After that, it may make unbundling mandatory.

The Brazilian government is looking to pass similar legislation, but it might be a moot point. The EC has been arguing for roping OEMs into a unifying charging standard for over a decade. Since most manufacturers have already adopted USB-C on their own, Apple seems to be one of the last holdouts, preferring its Lightning port over the more common connection.

However, the Cupertino giant has already moved several devices to USB-C. Furthermore, recent reliable rumors confirm that it is planning to phase out the Lightning port on its remaining devices --- primarily the iPhone. According to the directive, it will also have to shift its AirPods, Magic Mouse, and Magic Keyboard to USB-C within 24 months. So by the time Brazil adopts anything official, the world may have already made the transition.

Additionally, the Brazilian government recently demanded Apple to revert back to bundling chargers in with iPhones. So its copycat move toward forcing a USB-C standard seems counter intuitive to its stance on unbundling.

The UC went far from naming names. Even though Apple and its Lightning port seem like apparent targets, the mandate should apply to other small electronic devices like vapes, portable GPS units, cameras, and similar products using micro USB and Firewire chargers.

Image credit: Tony Webster

Permalink to story.

 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 892   +1,421
"We all have at least three mobile phone chargers at home. Looking for the right charger, either at home or at work, can be quite annoying," said Czech Minister for Industry and Trade. "On top of this, these chargers amount to 11,000 tons of e-waste every year. Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste."
Every iPhone for quite some time has come with a charging cable that only plugs into a USB-C charger. I'm not sure what's being solved here, unless the EU believes that the cables themselves are creating that much waste (which are a fraction of the weight of the chargers). Besides, these cables tend to work for a few years at the most before the wire covering is torn, and often stop working after just one year. So the cables are going to end up in the trash regardless of the consolidation of phone ports. The Czech minister is completely misrepresenting any benefit of this regulation.
 

Ultraman1966

Posts: 188   +111
I don't really understand laptops. Smartphones, small electronics and what not are fine, but some gaming laptops need A LOT of power. This just isn't suitable for everything.
The cables may need clear labelling but the new USB C spec will allow power draw of up 240W. Surely that is enough for a hungry gaming laptop?
Are we really against the war against countless proprietary chargers???
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 892   +1,421
The cables may need clear labelling but the new USB C spec will allow power draw of up 240W. Surely that is enough for a hungry gaming laptop?
Are we really against the war against countless proprietary chargers???
What a ridiculous thought process. Just because a spec has limits defined doesn't mean the spec is sufficient. This is exactly why Tesla has a proprietary port design in the US, even though they're now required by law to obey the inferior spec in Europe. You have to remember that a gaming laptop needs to be able to charge its battery while running the system that has the best in class GPU and other high powered components. It's basically a compact PC with a UPS built in.

I just checked Razer's website, and they provide a charger that a continuous charging rate of 280W (see here). I look forward to the day when people have to plug in their laptops to two chargers just so they can game while charging the battery, all thanks to the EU making any other option illegal.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,399   +1,040
A good thing - still must be an exception for some micro devices - else will need to unplug battery to charge - I mean tiny things - may not apply - what about shavers, toothbrushes etc . torches
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,979   +6,446
The cables may need clear labelling but the new USB C spec will allow power draw of up 240W. Surely that is enough for a hungry gaming laptop?
Are we really against the war against countless proprietary chargers???
I honestly don't trust power USC power bricks or cables to provide 240 watts of power. All it takes is a cheap gas station cable to start a fire. And sure, there are 'safe guards' in place, but those only go so far.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,594   +2,951
E-waste IS a massive problem, not sure this goes very far to addressing that. It's a small step I suppose.

We're still going to be in a WALL-E situation anyways by the end of this century even if Apple bow to the EU's bored legislators. At least Europe's trash robots will all charge via USB-C.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 892   +1,421
All iPhones, including the recently released iPhone 14, come equipped with a lightning port, not USB-C.
The cable that plugs into an iPhone is not a charger, which is what the quote I replied to is talking about (waste due to the charger). Yet every new iPhone cable plugs into a USB-C charger, not any other kind. This has been the case since 2018: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_XR#Power_adapter_and_EarPods

If you had an iPhone and an Android phone in the same house, you'll need a different cable right now, but not a different charger. My point is this politician used a statistics that doesn't apply to a majority of situations encountered everyday, and the amount of waste from chargers is going to be pretty different from waste from charging cables. I bet that a majority of the waste from chargers are from laptop chargers and old chargers (some proprietary, but many just old/unused). I'd guess the 11,000 tons of waste of chargers each year will continue to increase long after this change becomes law.
 

Biostud

Posts: 115   +79
I use a magnetic plug/adapter wire on all my devices at home so I don't have to plug and pull out all the time, much easier.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,699   +3,064
What a ridiculous thought process. Just because a spec has limits defined doesn't mean the spec is sufficient. This is exactly why Tesla has a proprietary port design in the US, even though they're now required by law to obey the inferior spec in Europe. You have to remember that a gaming laptop needs to be able to charge its battery while running the system that has the best in class GPU and other high powered components. It's basically a compact PC with a UPS built in.

I just checked Razer's website, and they provide a charger that a continuous charging rate of 280W (see here). I look forward to the day when people have to plug in their laptops to two chargers just so they can game while charging the battery, all thanks to the EU making any other option illegal.
High end laptops already require two power supplies though. It would change nothing other than you could use a 240 watt USB-C charger from Alienware on your MSI laptop (for example) or vice-versa. Right now, you'd need two chargers from that specific supplier for that specific laptop, making it more expensive for you and making them useless once you're done with the laptop.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 892   +1,421
High end laptops already require two power supplies though. It would change nothing other than you could use a 240 watt USB-C charger from Alienware on your MSI laptop (for example) or vice-versa. Right now, you'd need two chargers from that specific supplier for that specific laptop, making it more expensive for you and making them useless once you're done with the laptop.
This applies to dual GPU laptops only afaik, which is uncommon. Here’s an example: https://www.gamersnexus.net/news-pc/2612-why-2-power-adapters-for-the-msi-dual-gtx-1080-laptop
In this case they could require as many as three USB-C power supplies because these laptops sometimes require to be powered by 330W power supplies. Again, the spec isn’t sufficient right now. As you see in the linked review, the use of two power adapters isn’t a limitation of the port (there’s only one charging port) but of mobile power supplies. Requiring USB-C would change that too.
 
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dangh

Posts: 853   +1,446
I honestly don't trust power USC power bricks or cables to provide 240 watts of power. All it takes is a cheap gas station cable to start a fire. And sure, there are 'safe guards' in place, but those only go so far.
USB cables, and Thunderbolt cables, can determine their own capacity. If you are using fast charging on your usb phone, depending on cable quality you will get different results. A cable which meets power requirements will charge at high speed, and cable who does not will charge the same device at lower speed. This technology already exists and there is no fear of misuse or a fire (not larger anyway that with the standard, existing chargers).

More useless regulation
They just love making more of it, with the word mandatory in it.
Nothing useless in standardised approach especially, when mega corporations are doing their best to limit competition and pretend they are above the law.
Any public interface should be standardised.
 

Bl00dyMinded

Posts: 512   +794
I don't really understand laptops. Smartphones, small electronics and what not are fine, but some gaming laptops need A LOT of power. This just isn't suitable for everything.
The type of connection has nothing to do with how much power it can send... USB C can easily power and charge a gaming laptop.... People really just talk without researching.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,979   +6,446
The type of connection has nothing to do with how much power it can send... USB C can easily power and charge a gaming laptop.... People really just talk without researching.
I'm more worried about counterfeit cables. Even companies with the highest level of quality control release defective products. 240watts is just too much power. They raise the voltage because it can't handle the amps. Higher voltage means increase chance of sparks. All you need is for some ***** to use a gas station cable to power a laptop. Also, what's wrong with barrel connectors? I use barrel connectors on all my home electronics projects.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,284   +2,037
TechSpot Elite
Great idea for phones & other mobile devices.

Now, my wife and I can actually share the same cable... instead of her always having to worry about her proprietary BS connection. Before we started carrying a cable for her around, I can't tell you how many times her phone died without my Galaxy cabling being able to do anything about it.

This just makes sense, especially long term.
 

m3tavision

Posts: 1,110   +941
This isn't news to anyone other than Apple, who has been trying to fleece their Customers w/proprietary plugs.
 

Greggs

Posts: 22   +15
I honestly don't trust power USC power bricks or cables to provide 240 watts of power. All it takes is a cheap gas station cable to start a fire. And sure, there are 'safe guards' in place, but those only go so far.
The same issue exists for extension cords, taps, and proper wire gauge for home electrical repairs. Perhaps we need to spend more time teaching electric safety as it has become such a huge part of our lives. Given the scary things I've seen people do it's amazing we don't have more electrical fires than already exist.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,721   +1,171
Staff member
The same issue exists for extension cords, taps, and proper wire gauge for home electrical repairs. Perhaps we need to spend more time teaching electric safety as it has become such a huge part of our lives. Given the scary things I've seen people do it's amazing we don't have more electrical fires than already exist.
That reminds me of this guy's videos:

 

quadibloc

Posts: 383   +253
The cables may need clear labelling but the new USB C spec will allow power draw of up 240W.
In that case, I suppose that a USB-C plug would be able to charge a laptop. Initially, I found that hard to believe. After all, most laptops are charged by 19 volts DC or thereabouts, not 5 volts, so a switch to USB would mean more current, and a need for thicker wires.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,721   +1,171
Staff member
In that case, I suppose that a USB-C plug would be able to charge a laptop. Initially, I found that hard to believe. After all, most laptops are charged by 19 volts DC or thereabouts, not 5 volts, so a switch to USB would mean more current, and a need for thicker wires.
Current MacBooks charge fine through their USB-C port.