Goodbye, Lightning port? EU votes to make USB-C the charging standard by the end of 2024

midian182

Posts: 8,310   +103
Staff member
What just happened? The European Parliament has voted to pass EU legislation that will see USB-C become the universal charging format across numerous consumer electronic devices, including iPhones, by the end of 2024.

The European Commission's more than decade-long fight for a universal charging solution appeared to be almost over in June when EU lawmakers finalized legislation that would see all phones, tablets, and other small electronics sold in the region feature USB-C charging ports, thereby reducing e-waste.

The European Parliament voted on the rule earlier today, and, as expected, it passed by a landslide: 602 votes for, 13 against, and eight abstentions. It still needs final approval by the Council, but that step is considered a formality.

The directive will come into force 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal, and its requirements will apply to new devices after 24 months (40 months for laptops). Any products that went on sale before the date of the application are exempt and can continue to be sold after that point.

The entire list of electronic items covered by the law includes e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice, portable navigation devices, smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable and operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts. Laptops are also on the list, though they have until Spring 2026 to make the switch.

Products too small to feature USB-C charging ports, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, will be exempt from the rules, but the legislation may eventually be widened to cover these items.

The Commission is also looking to ensure a wireless charging standard by the end of 2024 as the adoption of the technology increases. There have been rumors that Apple is considering a port-free iPhone that can only be charged wirelessly.

The biggest company impacted by the change will, of course, be Apple. Despite Cupertino's iPad lineup making the switch to USB-C, its iPhones are still sporting Apple's propriety Lightning ports. However, the company is widely expected to launch the first iPhone with USB-C in 2023, before the EU law forces its hand.

Permalink to story.

 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,393   +2,959
The cynic in me says that Europe was already notified by Apple that they will switch to USB C and decided to feed us this line as a win by Europe for the customers.

Anyways, this is good for customers.
 

waclark

Posts: 699   +445
the fuzz of having several cables for different devices.

Fuzz? hmm, well, I hate to tell you, but you're still going to have several cables if you have several devices. They may all be USB C, but if you're like me, you'll want to charge your phone, tablet, wireless ear buds, and more over night. And, of course, what about all those other cheap Chinese knock-off products? Will they comply? They haven't so far. I have ear buds, bluetooth speakers, game controllers and other devices and they all use micro-USB.

And what happens when USB C is superseded by something better? Now we will have to get legislation passed to allow that? Seems counter-productive.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,252   +303
the fuzz of having several cables for different devices.

Fuzz? hmm, well, I hate to tell you, but you're still going to have several cables if you have several devices. They may all be USB C, but if you're like me, you'll want to charge your phone, tablet, wireless ear buds, and more over night. And, of course, what about all those other cheap Chinese knock-off products? Will they comply? They haven't so far. I have ear buds, bluetooth speakers, game controllers and other devices and they all use micro-USB.

And what happens when USB C is superseded by something better? Now we will have to get legislation passed to allow that? Seems counter-productive.

problem is the type-c connector itself hasn't become cheap, or as cheap as micro-usb. I have converted many gadgets that runs off 5V supply to use micro-usb instead of whatever crap connector they came with (I.e. small emergency light, older battery operated speakers, toys, etc) and not type-c because the base solderable female connector board costs 10x as much.

you're right though, there's too many new devices being sold that still use micro-usb and I don't think they'll be going for type-c anytime soon. I mean I can still find new android phone like samsung A03 that uses micro-usb for goodness sake.



 

m4a4

Posts: 3,088   +4,122
TechSpot Elite
The cynic in me says that Europe was already notified by Apple that they will switch to USB C and decided to feed us this line as a win by Europe for the customers.

Anyways, this is good for customers.
The cynic in me says that Apple will push their lightning port until the very last second because "they know what's best for their customers" and "it's greener to do that". Or some other BS that Apple spins...

It's a joke that Apple hasn't switched over last year already (while their other lines, including iPad, have)...
 
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Sean T

Posts: 47   +90
TechSpot Elite
I haven’t read the actual ruling, so my concern may be already addressed, but what about the development of the next connectivity that will replace USB-C? Will companies not risk innovating if a Government has given a group a monopoly on the connection? While I appreciate what they are attempting here(it is nice that one cable fits everything), it does seem wrong for a Government to force a particular group/entity (USB) upon everyone. I suspect the long term effects of such is slowed innovation and development.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,750   +6,519
IME, after about 3 years we are seeing a flood of laptops at work with worn out USB C connectors, they are not holding up to daily unplugging well at all.

Anecdotal, my 4 year old work iphone's lightning port is tighter then my 2 year old personal motorola's type c port, and the iphone gets plugged in twice a day. The moto once every 2 days. I've rarely seen lightning ports that were loose that were not do to user damage yanking off a table, ece).
 

dangh

Posts: 779   +1,303
IME, after about 3 years we are seeing a flood of laptops at work with worn out USB C connectors, they are not holding up to daily unplugging well at all.

Anecdotal, my 4 year old work iphone's lightning port is tighter then my 2 year old personal motorola's type c port, and the iphone gets plugged in twice a day. The moto once every 2 days. I've rarely seen lightning ports that were loose that were not do to user damage yanking off a table, ece).
What? I have Lenovo x1 yoge for number of years, connected daily, works like new. Same with mobile phones.

And please don't tell me about lightning quality. It's not uncommon to see cables broken after few month of use. That's a joke.
 

nodfor

Posts: 319   +570
When you get away with forcing people to use specific vaccines, forcing devices to feature a specific port seems like a misdemeanor.

The most worrying aspect is the landslide majority, very few legislators considered that they have no business legislating such BS.
 

Fulljack

Posts: 103   +95
I haven’t read the actual ruling, so my concern may be already addressed, but what about the development of the next connectivity that will replace USB-C? Will companies not risk innovating if a Government has given a group a monopoly on the connection? While I appreciate what they are attempting here(it is nice that one cable fits everything), it does seem wrong for a Government to force a particular group/entity (USB) upon everyone. I suspect the long term effects of such is slowed innovation and development.

the standard-making group, USB-IF are the one that made Type-C on the first place. it's a consortium filled with engineers from Apple, Microsoft, Intel, AMD, and more. the next interface (USB Type-D anyone?) will most likely came from them, donated or worked by it's member engineers.

according to the ruling, there will be report of review of the ruling, and will be made after that every 5 years.

- the Commission to review the operation of the Directive and report thereon 2 years
after the date of applicability of the Directive and every five years thereafter; and
- the Member States to send to the Commission a report on its application one year
after the date of applicability of the Directive and every two years thereafter.

taken directly from the PDF, Section 5 "Other Element".
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,750   +6,519
What? I have Lenovo x1 yoge for number of years, connected daily, works like new. Same with mobile phones.
We have dell 7390s and 3390s that after about 3-4 years are developing loose USB C ports, poor connectivity, and slow charging speeds caused by a failure to negotiate with their chargers.

We've seen the same thing occur on some of our older lenovo 100e chromebooks.

I didnt think it was that hard to understand.

And please don't tell me about lightning quality. It's not uncommon to see cables broken after few month of use. That's a joke.
Ports, not cables, my guy. Slow down and read.

My oldest lightning cable is 7 years old and now has some damaged insulation, but not on the connector. It still works fine being used at work and home daily.
 

dangh

Posts: 779   +1,303
We have dell 7390s and 3390s that after about 3-4 years are developing loose USB C ports, poor connectivity, and slow charging speeds caused by a failure to negotiate with their chargers.

We've seen the same thing occur on some of our older lenovo 100e chromebooks.

I didnt think it was that hard to understand.


Ports, not cables, my guy. Slow down and read.

My oldest lightning cable is 7 years old and now has some damaged insulation, but not on the connector. It still works fine being used at work and home daily.
Not much different to mac pro charging ports, my friend, and as well a reason for my iphone5 early retirement.
And I was talking about cable to highlight difference between a good and bad execution of a product - and didn't think it was so hard to understand. Cheap solution will fail faster than more expensive solution, cheap connectors will be worse than more expensive even if they follow same standard.
There is no magical weak points in either thunderbolt, usb x, or lightning - it all depends to what standards those connectors has been produced.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,368   +3,029
Shoot, knowing apple, they will make a lightning to USB adapter, and charge for it, AND it will have some sort of chip, that detects if it is a genuine apple adapter, so they can charge a premium for the thing.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,295   +8,465
I'll reserve judgement on this one to see how those "comparability" plugs work out and if there will be a high availability of them .....
 

rmcrys

Posts: 291   +236
IME, after about 3 years we are seeing a flood of laptops at work with worn out USB C connectors, [...]
Anecdotal, my 4 year old work iphone's lightning port is tighter

I had a Surface Go with USB-C and several "old" Samsung phones with USB-C like an S8 for example, after almost daily charges my father has it and it holds perfect as since day one.


We have dell 7390s and 3390s that after about 3-4 years are developing loose USB C ports

No idea what experience you have but it's the other way around: USB-C is not only more compatible but holds extremely well and I have A LOT of devices (xiaomi vacuum cleaner, headsets, Smartphones, surface devices, etc....) that prove that; lightning ports are known to get damaged easier, much much smaller compatibility and even Apple laptops and iPad got USB-C.

USB-C is the way to go and when USB-E or another connector comes up, as long as it is widely adopted, in fine with it.
 

azicat

Posts: 170   +219
As much as this sounds great in concept, in practice the real-world implementation of USB-PD is a dog's breakfast. The actual delivered power of USB-C cables varies wildly. There's also the new PD spec of 240W which greatly exceeds the current 100W-rated maximum convention. So, we'll still have to replace any existing cables that can't handle this output for new devices that demand it.

Gordon somewhat explored this concern over at PC World.
 
the standard-making group, USB-IF are the one that made Type-C on the first place. it's a consortium filled with engineers from Apple, Microsoft, Intel, AMD, and more. the next interface (USB Type-D anyone?) will most likely came from them, donated or worked by it's member engineers.

according to the ruling, there will be report of review of the ruling, and will be made after that every 5 years.

- the Commission to review the operation of the Directive and report thereon 2 years
after the date of applicability of the Directive and every five years thereafter; and
- the Member States to send to the Commission a report on its application one year
after the date of applicability of the Directive and every two years thereafter.

taken directly from the PDF, Section 5 "Other Element".
I haven’t read the actual ruling, so my concern may be already addressed, but what about the development of the next connectivity that will replace USB-C? Will companies not risk innovating if a Government has given a group a monopoly on the connection? While I appreciate what they are attempting here(it is nice that one cable fits everything), it does seem wrong for a Government to force a particular group/entity (USB) upon everyone. I suspect the long term effects of such is slowed innovation and development.

That's covered as they will keep evaluating the standard.

Not sure in what grounds they are gonna do that but I suppose if either bandwidth or power requirements of a new device aren't covered with usb-c, a manufacturer may use something else.

Chances are we won't see that kind of device anytime soon, except for ones that are for professional super high end users.

Honestly, this seems like the regular power plugs we use now. Which seems fine by me. They are all standardized by law and we haven't needed new plugs for the past 50 years.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 812   +743
Lightning ports already work with USB C chargers

I'd tell the EU to go kick rocks if I ran Apple

No new phones would be sold there if they tried to dictate what charging port I was required to use

If the goal is to reduce e-waste, then I would only sell them older used iphones with lightning ports and stop selling new phones over there

Problem solved / no more e-waste

Each used iphone would come with a "FREE APPLE CERTIFIED" USB C to Lightning charging cable
 
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waclark

Posts: 699   +445
That's covered as they will keep evaluating the standard.

Not sure in what grounds they are gonna do that but I suppose if either bandwidth or power requirements of a new device aren't covered with usb-c, a manufacturer may use something else.

Chances are we won't see that kind of device anytime soon, except for ones that are for professional super high end users.

Honestly, this seems like the regular power plugs we use now. Which seems fine by me. They are all standardized by law and we haven't needed new plugs for the past 50 years.
Actually, when you think about it, we have not standardized on power plugs. We have standardized the wall socket and the plug that goes into the wall, at least at a country level. And, by the way, Apple lightning cables use a wall plug that is compatible.

But, look at your appliances that have detachable power cords. They are not standardized. Computer power supplies, for the most part, do use compatible power cords, but that cord will not work with my hand mixer, or my rechargeable electric shaver, or my TV. And, to make it worse, World standards for wall outlets are different across countries and certainly different than the US. So, no, we really haven't standardized power plugs across the world. This picture illustrates that point.

world-plug-type-map.jpg
 

Greggs

Posts: 17   +13
Actually, when you think about it, we have not standardized on power plugs. We have standardized the wall socket and the plug that goes into the wall, at least at a country level. And, by the way, Apple lightning cables use a wall plug that is compatible.

But, look at your appliances that have detachable power cords. They are not standardized. Computer power supplies, for the most part, do use compatible power cords, but that cord will not work with my hand mixer, or my rechargeable electric shaver, or my TV. And, to make it worse, World standards for wall outlets are different across countries and certainly different than the US. So, no, we really haven't standardized power plugs across the world.
Certainly true wall plugs not standardized around the world nor will they likely ever be given the huge cost and little benefit for most countries. Electronics are quite different as many have standardized to the 5V USB standards as most don't require much power and it's cheaper than using proprietary connectors and adapters like the old days. I'd argue electronics vs everything else isn't comparable for this reason.

The world chart of plugs was very interesting. Gotta feel for the counties that have more than one standard!
 

waclark

Posts: 699   +445
Certainly true wall plugs not standardized around the world nor will they likely ever be given the huge cost and little benefit for most countries. Electronics are quite different as many have standardized to the 5V USB standards as most don't require much power and it's cheaper than using proprietary connectors and adapters like the old days. I'd argue electronics vs everything else isn't comparable for this reason.

The world chart of plugs was very interesting. Gotta feel for the counties that have more than one standard!
Well, I would argue the opposite. First, the USB port on many devices isn't just for charging. It also includes some data transfer and optionally device control capabilities. As such, devices from different manufacturers may have different requirements for those connections. I am under the impression, having read a couple of posts about this, that USB C can cost more to implement.

But assuming cable costs are the same, what's the real value here? Well, they say there will be less e-waste, but will there be? I recall that Apple got sued by one country because they didn't include a charging cable. So, even if the standard is universal, if you have to include the charging cable in every product that needs one, how have you eliminated any e-waste?

It will provide a minor convenience in not having to have multiple cable types, but you're still likely to have 2 or more cables if you have multiple devices that need to be charged. And, I wonder, if they will mandate that the wall charger has to be USB C as well? Meaning that your charging cables will be USB C to USB C and your old cables won't be useful once your existing wall warts die off.

Overall, I feel it's a net-neutral proposition. It's not going to help, since everything doesn't use USB C today and likely won't for at least a couple more years. It's not going to hurt too much because people already have the cables they need for their charging needs. Why not just mandate wireless charging and get rid of cables altogether? The downside is now you have government bureaucracy in the middle of engineering innovation. That doesn't see like the best idea.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 812   +743
I have nothing against USB-C

I simply would not allow the EU to dictate how I make a phone or what ports I choose to use

You may ask me politely if I would consider using a USB-C port
But if you dictate what I must do, then no new phones for you!

Enjoy your refurbished iphone with it's lightning port
It solves the e-waste problem you keep complaining about

A USB-C to Lightning charging cable is all you need
 

Slappy McPhee

Posts: 247   +158
Apple will just accelerate they mass move to wireless charging instead of messing with new charging powers on their devices.
 
I have nothing against USB-C

I simply would not allow the EU to dictate how I make a phone or what ports I choose to use

You may ask me politely if I would consider using a USB-C port
But if you dictate what I must do, then no new phones for you!

Enjoy your refurbished iphone with it's lightning port
It solves the e-waste problem you keep complaining about

A USB-C to Lightning charging cable is all you need

Of course Apple will comply. For starters they'll have a really hard time to argue the standard is not a good thing for consumers and the environment, but more importantly they will wanna stay selling to EU consumers.

From your comment it seems your grasp of what the EU is isn't exactly stellar. The EU is 447 million people, so as a market it matters and Apple will do as told.

The EU actually does a lot when it comes to the environment, consumer protection and more. Like for example there is a 2 year warranty as a minimum, when you buy something online you have to week full return right... and the EU also comes down hard on companies abusing their market control to limit consumer choice and/or jack up prices.