European lawmakers voted by a margin of 602 to 13 on a long-planned directive that will require makers of phones, tablets and cameras to use a common charging standard, USB-C, by the end of 2024. The news was announced Tuesday in a press release from the European Parliament.
The law also applies to headsets and headphones, navigation systems, e-readers, mice, keyboards and portable game consoles and speakers. And for laptops, by the way, although laptop manufacturers have more time to implement the change: the law for that category will only come into effect in the spring of 2026.
This has been coming for a while. Preliminary approval was announced in June, but the European Parliament called for a common charger standard back in 2014.
It’s worth noting that technically this law only applies to devices sold in the EU. But it’s highly unlikely that a phone manufacturer would choose to produce and sell two versions to offer, say, USB-C in Europe and Lightning in the US. In addition, US lawmakers themselves are working on legislation to make the same provision.
Unless it’s able to lobby to overturn the law before the end of 2024, Apple now seems confident that it will adopt USB-C for its iPhones and iPads within the next two generations. But while we can discuss cause and effect, it already seemed likely. Sources report that the iPhone will switch to USB-C in 2023, and AirPods cases will do the same. The iPad has already started the transition to USB-C, and there’s only one model left to make the switch, likely later this year.
The other option, particularly for the iPhone, would be for Apple to skip the USB-C phase entirely and switch to a portless design that relies entirely on wireless charging. It’s questionable, however, whether the company could muster a compelling argument for such a design: It could more easily guarantee water resistance, but iPhones are already highly water-resistant and any gain in internal space (possibly filled by a larger battery cell or other component ) would probably not outweigh the loss of what is still the fastest method of charging and transferring data to and from a phone in the minds of customers.