EU mandates common charging port for all phones, tablets and cameras by 2024

NEW DELHI : On Tuesday, the European Parliament passed a provisional agreement on a directive on charging ports on consumer gadgets. According to the proposed legislation, all “small and medium-sized portable electronic devices” – which include mobile phones, tablets, cameras and earphones, among others – must use USB-C as the charging port irrespective of the manufacturer of the respective devices, by autumn 2024.

The move gives companies – notably, Apple – a little more than two years to migrate to USB-C ports for their mobile phones. Laptops are also part of the new regulation, but laptop original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will get longer to comply with the new regulation. According to the provisional European Union (EU) agreement, laptop OEMs will get 40 months from the adoption of the proposal into formal EU law to migrate entirely to USB-C ports.

The agreement also stated that the charging speed that would be offered by OEMs should be “harmonized for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.”

Describing the full list of additions in the new EU law, Alex Agius Saliba, official rapporteur for the European Parliament, said that the list of devices, over and above the ones mentioned above, include “e-readers, keyboards, computer mice and portable navigation devices.”

“We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labeling for consumers,” Saliba said.

Regulations to impose a common charging port and standard for consumers have been ongoing for over a decade. The legislative proposal for the common standard was tabled at the Parliament on 23 September last year. EU has also clarified that the law will not be applicable to devices that enter the market before it becomes formally applicable – which is at around the end of 2024.

A statement by the EU further added that the upcoming law could potentially save up to €250 million per year for consumers from “unnecessary charger purchases” – also cutting down on 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.

Apple, which still uses Lightning ports in its iPhones, is likely to be the most impacted by this ruling, although various reports from supply chain sources have claimed that Apple is likely to shift its iPhones to USB-C ports, soon. Apple’s 2021 iPhones, the iPhone 13 lineup, was itself tipped to use USB-C – but was instead launched with Lightning only.

Apple has already migrated to USB-C ports for charging its iPad tablets and MacBook laptops, but its AirPods earphones still use Lightning. Beyond mobile phones, proprietary charging ports are still commonly used by laptop OEMs – which this new regulation may finally unify.

Apple could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.

EU’s move will likely change the general course of the overall connectors, cables and accessories industry. A report from May this year by statistics firm, Allied Market Research, had projected that the overall industry of connectors and cables would grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% to be valued at $114.7 billion.

The EU legislation stated, “Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device.” This, in turn, could see more reuse of chargers and charging cables – thereby slowing down the overall rate of shipments for them.

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