Almost a year ago there was talk of how Europe was pushing towards the adoption of a single standard for charging mobile devices. Today, finally, the institutions of the European Union have reached an agreement on the directive that will oblige all future devices sold in the EU to be equipped with a USB-C port for charging via cable. This obligation applies to everyone, including Apple.
Not only smartphones, but also other electrical devices such as tablets, e-readers and cameras will have to adhere to the new legislation, with a maximum limit for autumn 2024. Laptops also fall within this, but with a limit to the passage of 40 months from adoption , due to the difficulty for laptops to create a standard charger as the power requirements are different here.
Apple will have to adapt to the USB-C standard
The Internal Market Committee has been working on this legislation for many years, slowed down above all by a series of oppositions they have received. The biggest complaints obviously came from Apple , which pushed to the end to be able to use its Lighting connector. The position of the Cupertino group on the issue has always been clear: an obligation of this type would entail putting a brake on innovation , affecting consumers in a negative way.
“Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe! European consumers have long been frustrated that more chargers piled up with each new device. They will now be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics. We are proud that laptops, e-readers, headsets, keyboards, computer mice and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and earphones, portable video game consoles and portable speakers. We have also added provisions on wireless charging which represents the next evolution in charging technology and better information and labeling for consumers ”.
The main objectives of the European Union are two:
- foster standardized technology for all , thus allowing users, regardless of the device they own, to charge at the same rate with any charger.
- reduce waste by avoiding that in each package there is a new and different charger (therefore not interchangeable with other devices), and therefore avoid the increase of electronic waste.
With these two objectives in mind, the EU has estimated that the legislation should save consumers a total of € 250 million per year on purchases of unnecessary chargers and reduce electronic waste generated annually by around 11,000 tonnes .
Now we are all curious to see how Apple will move . In the smartphone market, almost all Android device manufacturers have adopted the USB-C standard. Will Apple be able to adapt or will it work around the problem in any way? Taking into account the fact that the Cupertino company itself already has some products in its catalog with this standard instead of Lighting, such as the iPad Mini 2021.
Among the practical advantages of USB-C we certainly find the fact of having a symmetrical connector, therefore not having a mandatory physical connection direction , thus facilitating the connection operation.
A little background on Apple's Lighting Connector
Lightning is a connector produced and adopted for its devices by Apple since 2012. The interface is compatible with iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7G and later, replacing the previous Dock connector 30-pin. Lightning is a fully digital 8-pin connector where the metal shell functions as the ninth ground connector. Unlike its predecessor, the plug can be inserted into the device in both directions.
While it is possible to insert the connector in one orientation, it is not electrically equivalent to inserting it in the opposite one. To remedy this, the connector has a chip that determines which direction the plug has been inserted into the device each time and passes the electrical signals to the correct pins.
Genuine Lightning cables also contain an authentication chip that makes it difficult for third parties to produce compatible accessories without Apple's approval. However, a Chinese company managed to bypass this protocol and started producing charging stations starting in October 2012.
The article USB-C charger for everyone in Europe: Apple will have to adapt was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .