European Union member states and legislators have agreed to mandate a single mobile charging port for mobile phones, tablets and cameras in a blow to technology giant Apple.
Tuesday’s agreement, a world first, means that from late 2024 most portable devices will be required to have a USB Type-C charging port. It will not apply to products released before the new rules come into force.
The EU believes a standard cable for all devices will substantially cut back on thousands of tonnes of electronic waste.
The bloc is home to 450 million people, some of the world’s richest consumers, and the imposition of the USB-C as a cable standard could also affect the entire global smartphone market.
Users of iPhones and Android phones have long complained about having to use different chargers for their devices. The former is charged from a Lightning cable while Android-based devices are powered using USB-C connectors.
Half the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29 percent had a USB-C connector and 21 percent a Lightning connector, according to a 2019 study by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.
Huge savings to consumers
“The deal we struck this morning will bring around 250 million euros ($267m) of savings to consumers,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said in a statement.
“It will also allow new technologies such as wireless charging to emerge and to mature without letting innovation to become source of market fragmentation and consumer inconvenience,” he added.
The European Commission had initially pushed for a single mobile charging port more than a decade ago, but companies failed to agree on a common solution.
Apple, which already uses USB-C connectors on some of its iPads and laptop computers, has insisted any legislation to force a universal charger for all mobiles in the bloc is unwarranted.
The United States-headquartered iPhone juggernaut argues such a move would slow innovation and create more pollution.
But EU legislators said the shift, which will need to be formally approved by its parliament before it can enter into force, will save both the “resources” and the “nerves” of those living in the bloc.
“After a decade, finally one standard (USB-C) will charge them all,” Anna Cavazzini, a German member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, tweeted.
Laptops will have to comply with the legislation within 40 months of it taking effect. The fact the deal also covers e-readers, ear buds and other technologies will mean Samsung, Huawei and other device makers are also affected.