Brussels: Apple will have to change the charger for its iPhones in the European Union from autumn 2024 to follow new guidelines introducing a single charging port for most electronic gadgets.
The reform passed by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament on Tuesday, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, possibly fortifies the EU’s role as a global standard-setter on smartphone technology. The vote affirmed an earlier agreement among EU institutions.
The new guidelines will make USB-C connectors used by Android-based devices the norm across the 27-nation bloc, forcing Apple to change its charging port for iPhones and other gadgets. It will also apply to laptops from 2026, giving manufacturers longer to adapt, although many as of now use USB-C.
Apple is supposed to be the most affected of the big suppliers of electronic devices to European customers, although experts say the impact could be positive if it encourages customers to buy the U.S. company’s new devices instead of ones without USB-C. Shares in European semiconductor manufacturers rose on Tuesday after the vote, including those of Apple suppliers STMicro and Infineon.
The deal likewise covers tablets, e-readers, earbuds, and other technologies, meaning it may also have an impact on Samsung, Huawei, and other gadget manufacturers, analysts said.
Under the new changes, mobile phones and other devices sold after autumn 2024 will have to be compatible with the single charger, said Alex Agius Saliba, the EU lawmaker who steered the reform through the EU assembly. Old chargers will not be outlawed, however, so that customers can continue to use older models.
Saliba told a news conference that banning old chargers would lopsidedly affect purchasers and the environment but noted that the change is expected to lead to a gradual phase-out of older products. In total 13 categories of electronic devices will have to adapt by autumn 2024.
The Parliament broadened the original proposal from the EU’s executive Commission which covered only seven types of devices. Lawmakers also added laptops from 2026. Apple has previously cautioned that the proposal would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronics waste.
The change had been discussed for years and was prompted by complaints from iPhone and Android users about having to switch to different chargers for their gadgets. The European Commission has assessed that a single charger would save about 250 million euros ($247.3 million) for consumers.
A portion of the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29% had a USB-C connector, and 21% had a Lightning connector, which is used by Apple, a 2019 Commission study showed. Apple is working on an iPhone with a USB-C charging port that could debut next year.
The Commission has additionally been mandated by legislators to assess the conceivable regulation of wireless charging; however, an EU official said no decision has been made yet, noting that the technology is not yet mature.