The European Commission, the European Union’s (EU) industry regulator and antitrust division, has proposed a law to make all smartphones have a standard USB-C charger slot. According to the agency, the measure has a positive impact on reducing electronic waste, reducing the number of chargers available, and bringing convenience to the consumer. It’s clear that Apple must be hardest hit by the change, as iPhones still have Lightning input.
EU supports mobile phone sales without chargers
In addition to smartphones, the law proposed by the European Commission to universalize the USB-C input is also valid for cameras, tablets, portable consoles, headphones and portable microphones.
The measure also provides that the sale of chargers is uncoupled from the sale of devices, so that the consumer buys the items separately. The EU Commission says the separate sale will further reduce the expense and environmental impact on the production and disposal of portable chargers, “therefore supporting a green and digital transition,” the agency’s statement said.
“We gave the industry plenty of time to come up with its own solutions, but now is the time to implement legislative measures in favor of the common charger”, comments Margrethe Vestager, head of the European Commission for Competition. “This is an important victory for our consumers and for the environment.”
New law has bigger impact on Apple
The new law proposed by the EU should mainly target the only brand with a line of smartphones that use the Lightning connector to power the battery. Apple still has its own charger model, while competitors such as Motorola and Xiaomi have already switched to USB-C in their latest smartphone lines.
Even the company’s new line of smartphones, the iPhone 13, hasn’t made any significant changes to the charger used. In fact, the company retained the Lightining connector, which began rolling out on the iPhone 5 in 2012.
EU regulatory agency commissioner Thierry Breton points out that the legislation aims to bring convenience to consumers:
“Chargers are essential for most of our electronic devices. With more and more devices, the sale of chargers that are not needed or do not dialogue with all devices. We are putting a stop to this. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all equipment — an important step towards increasing convenience and reducing waste.”
The European Commission’s regulatory proposal requires the review of the Radio Equipment Directive, a European regulatory framework, and needs to be contemplated and approved by the EU Parliament.
If approved, however, manufacturers have up to 24 months to follow the new rule. It is worth remembering that the Parliament has already signaled the demand for a standard charger in 2020, when it voted it gave the approval precisely for the Commission to formulate a new law on the subject.
Commission wants to ensure standard at the “other end of the cable”
The Commission is also concerned about ensuring compatibility at the other end of the cable. The purpose of the universal charger could be threatened if the chargers socket input is different, and the EU knows this.
The other end of the charger will be the subject of the Ecodesign Regulation Commission, which should take place later this year, in line with the proposal sent this Thursday (23).
According to surveys by the agency itself, each European consumer has an average of three cell phone chargers, but only two are used frequently. Even so, 38% complained at least once that they could not charge their device due to the lack of compatibility between the cables.
The data also show that customers spent US$ 2.81 billion annually on the purchase of chargers. The waste bill is also high: the pile of unused cables reaches 11,000 tons per year.
With information: The Verge and European Commission