APPLE will officially be forced to change the charging ports on iPhones from 2024.
A new EU law has met final approval, requiring all phones, tablets and electronic devices to feature USB-C charging ports.
All recent iPhone models have shipped with Apple’s own proprietary power connector: Lightning.
But that’s all about to change as the European Parliament recently voted overwhelmingly to enforce UCB-C by the end of 2024 – a decision that has now been enshrined into EU law.
That means several Apple gadgets will be forced to make the switch, including the iPhone and the popular AirPods wireless earbuds.
“By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops,” the European Parliament said.
“Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.”
The EU’s favoured charging connection is called USB-C.
It’s now a widely popular type of charging and data transfer port that was launched in the middle of 2014.
The male end of the cable is a little thicker and much wider than Apple’s Lightning cables, but they largely perform the same job.
However, while Lightning ports are exclusively used on Apple devices, USB-C ports are now very common.
Most flagship Android phones now feature USB-C ports.
And several Apple products already include USB-C too, including MacBooks and the iPad Pro.
Apple also introduced a USB-C tip to one end of the charger with the iPhone 11 – but the phone port remained Lightning.
The new decision is an EU directive, which means it only affects products that are being sold in Europe.
But it’s possible that Apple may simply adopt USB-C more widely for manufacturing ease – including in the UK and US.
“It is now inevitable that Apple will have to capitulate and transition to USB-C on the iPhone 15 when it arrives in 2023,” said industry analyst Ben Wood, of CCS Insight.
“This is a victory for common sense. Although Apple has a huge installed base of lighting cable powered devices, the ubiquity of USB-C across all consumer electronics products means that harmonising on USB-C makes perfect sense.
“Irrespective of whether the UK government mandates the move to USB-C or not, UK consumers will get the technology by default. It will make no sense for consumer electronics manufacturers to offer devices with anything else.”
The switch will render current iPhone cables useless with the new model, and force fans to buy new spare leads if they upgrade their handset.
It would also mean replacing any Lightning connector accessory, or buying an adaptor.
The new iPhone cable would be Apple’s third in just over 15 years.
Apple’s first iPhones used the massive 30-pin dock connector, before the firm abruptly switched to lightning connectors in 2012.
The move made everybody’s old charging cables useless, and the same could happen again.
The new EU directive is a blow to Apple, which had previously spoken out against the proposals.
“Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it,” Apple’s Claire Darmon told the EU in 2019.
“Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.
Analysts expect Apple to switch the iPhone to USB-C as soon as 2023, with the rumoured iPhone 15.
However Apple has not confirmed when USB-C will arrive on the iPhone.
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