The EU wants to make USB-C charging mandatory for all phones, including iPhones

USB-C Cables
USB-C Cables (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The European Commission has proposed making USB-C the standard charging port for all electronic devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • It also wants manufacturers to stop bundling a charger with new devices to "limit the number of unwanted chargers."
  • Additionally, the proposal requires manufacturers to harmonize fast charging technology.

The European Commission on September 23 proposed a revised Radio Equipment Directive that seeks to force manufacturers to make USB-C the standard charging port for all popular electronic devices — including phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, headphones, and handheld games consoles.

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The new rules also call for harmonized fast charging technology to stop different manufacturers from "unjustifiably limiting" charging speeds and ensuring that consumers can get the same charging speeds using any charger that is compatible with their device.

To "limit the number of unwanted chargers," the Commission plans to make manufacturers stop bundling chargers with new electronic devices.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said in a statement:

European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger.

Once the rules come into effect, it could help cut down the amount of electronic waste by nearly a thousand tons yearly. The Commission also claims the measures will allow consumers to "save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases."

While the rules aren't likely to have a major impact on Android OEMs, they could force Apple to finally move away from its proprietary Lightning connector. Even though Apple began adding a USB-C port to its iPad line in 2018, iPhones still use a Lightning connector for charging.

Most Android devices — including the best budget phones, use a USB-C port for charging. There are only a small number of entry-level Android phones and tablets that still use a Micro USB port.

Babu Mohan
News Writer
12 Comments
  • While USB C on everything sounds great now I wonder how this will pan out when USB C is old tech. Won't this prevent development or adoption into USB D. Laws move too slow for tech
  • No, they're mandating that they decide on a standard, not what that standard is. AFAIK.
  • No, they are attempting to mandate a standard. Expecting OEMs to decide/agree on a standard is why we aren't all stuck with micro-USB. The EU wanted to do this before, and couldn't get agreement, so they made it voluntary but encouraged. Had they prevailed, we'd all still be using micro-USB, because that was what they were pushing at the time.
  • NO...although would love it all to be USB-C, the gov't needs to keep their nose out of this subject. Hopefully, the US will not follow suit.
  • The US doesn't matter, even Apple isn't stubborn and stupid enough to split SKUs between lightning and USB-C. Probably...
  • They are stubborn enough to use MagSafe and forgo a 'charging' port at all. Don't think the EU could require a port, just that it be USB C if there is one.
  • If they add USB-C to all models it would make sense, I just don't want our gov't sticking their nose into these minor details of any manufacture. Like autos, daylight running lamps are NOT required in the USA; however, due to other countries requiring them by law, the carmaker just adds them to all vehicles it is actually cheaper in the long run than running two different types of front ends of vehicle at an assembly plant. I would be curious if the EU does this, could apple just provide a USB-C to lightening adapter or cord for all phone sold in EU?
  • Apple is already using USB C on their iPad pro models. They need it for their faster charging so once the iPhones have that same fast charging requirement they will also switch.
  • Don't forget they still use Lightning on the entry level iPad and Airpods, regular and Max. All these would likely be covered under this ruling.
  • I doubt I ever agreed with anything, ever, from the European Commission... But a charging standard makes perfect sense. Imagine if your TV, lamp, air dehumidifier, etc all had different electrical plugs... That would be insane. Even the present wide range of charging speeds and cords even among USB C devices is stupid.
  • And to be honest, this is mostly a story about Apple arrogance... They alone developed and marketed the inferior "lightning cable".
  • If this does become a hard-and-fast law, Apple will just circumvent it. They'll make their iPhone and iPad (and Lightning peripherals) all wireless charging and remove ports altogether, just to flip the bird to the EU.