As Apple plots to drop iPhone ports, Europe plans law to give all phones same charger

European lawmakers consider legislation that could be irrelevant by the time it arrives.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

European lawmakers want to require smartphone manufacturers to provide a common charger for all mobile phones.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Monday discussed the idea of introducing "binding measures" that would require chargers that fit all mobile phones and portable electronic devices. 

The EU introduced the voluntary Radio Equipment Directive in 2014, but MEPs believe the effort fell short of the objectives. 

"The voluntary agreements between different industry players have not yielded the desired results," MEPs said

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The proposed more stringent measures are aimed at reducing electronic waste, which is estimated to amount to 51,000 tonnes per year in old chargers. 

While most smartphones today use USB-C ports for charging, Apple's iPhone still uses a Lightning connector. However, Apple has adopted USB-C for the new iPad Pro and MacBooks. 

Apple last year argued that regulations to standardize chargers for phones would "freeze innovation rather than encourage it" and it claimed the proposal was "bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers".

"More than one billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers," Apple said.  

"We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adapters with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide," Apple added. 

"This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users. To be forced to disrupt this huge market of customers will have consequences far beyond the stated aims of the Commission."

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons Apple has a different idea in store: getting rid of the Lightning port and not replacing it with USB-C, which is a standard that Apple doesn't have complete control over. 

According to the analyst, Apple plans to remove the Lightning connector on a flagship iPhone to be released in 2021. Instead it would rely on wireless charging. 

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While Apple's predicted removal of the Lightning port on the iPhone could render European mobile charger requirements useless, the company was thought to have been eyeing a no-port mobile with the iPhone X from 2018. 

Earlier this year it killed its AirPower wireless charging pad before it was able to deliver it. Plus Apple will probably continue to sell older generation iPhone models that aren't affected by its war on ports.

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