Taking a deeper look into why the European Union made the USB-C charger the standard across the 27-nation bloc

By Allen Masi

In 2022, an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament passed a reform that will make USB-C connectors the standard charger for most electronic devices across the European Union.[1] Apple, the popular iPhone developer, will be greatly impacted by this sweeping change.[2] After the fall of 2024, mobile phones, e-readers, ear buds, tablets, cameras, and other devices like those made by Apple, Samsung and Huawei will have to be compatible with the single USB-C charger.[3] This new change also applies to all laptops sold after spring 2026.[4] So, why did the European Union decide to make this change?

The European Union’s Parliament had been pushing for this legislation for over 10 years, with the goal of having a “common charger” that will help consumers leave the plethora of different charging devices in the past.[5] Legislators within the  European Parliament also believed this would help reduce e-waste and empower consumers to make sustainable choices.[6] At the time this legislation passed in 2022, it was wildly popular amongst legislators with 602 votes in favor and 13 against.[7]

The EU’s Parliaments goal of reducing waste is a noble one that seems rooted in common sense. Last year more than 400 million mobile phones and other portable devices were sold in the EU, with the average person owning around three mobile phone chargers.[8] These numbers don’t even consider the number of different chargers used by laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices

The EU’s Parliament also wanted to help consumers by eliminating the costs of having to buy multiple chargers for different devices.[9] It is likely the change will save European consumers a substantial amount of money. Some European Union officials estimate that this could save European Consumers close to $250 million dollars a year.[10] These savings could extend further than the European Union now that Apple has begun to release its new iPhone 15 models which will only feature the USB-C charging port.[11]

In the case of Apple products, the new USB-C charger could have a plethora of unintended benefits along with those that were expected. In some instances, iPhones will now charger faster with the USB-C charger than they would have with the older lighting cable.[12] The new cable will also significantly increase the speed at which data transfers on the supported iPhone models.[13] Couple those unintended benefits with some of the intended benefits and consumers have a lot to be optimistic about. Consumers of Apple products will soon be able to use a single charging cable for their iPhones, Macs, and iPads.[14] In addition to that, those products will also be compatible with chargers used by billions of non-Apple devices.[15]

As these new products start releasing USB-C compatible products, there is no doubt that consumers should start to see the benefits and convenience of this change. While the reform package was passed by the European Union Parliament the effects will be felt across the world. With most electronic devices moving to the USB-C charger, it will much easier and more convenient to charge your devices regardless of where you are.




Image Source: https://www.batteriesplus.com/blog/tech/usb-c-standard

[1] Francesco Guarascio, Apple Forced to Change Charger in Europe as EU Approves Overhaul, REUTERS, (Oct. 4, 2022), https://www.reuters.com/technology/eu-parliament-adopts-rules-common-charger-electronic-devices-2022-10-04/

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Long-awaited common charger for mobile devices will be a reality in 2024 (Oct. 4, 2022), https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20220930IPR41928/long-awaited-common-charger-for-mobile-devices-will-be-a-reality-in-2024.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Cristina Criddle, EU rules to force USB-C chargers for all phone, BBC NEWS (Sept. 23, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58665809.

[9] Shauneen Miranda, The EU will require all cellphones to have the same type of charging port, NPR (Oct. 4, 2022), https://www.npr.org/2022/06/07/1103493025/european-union-to-require-mobile-devices-to-have-usb-c-ports.

[10] Id.

[11] Mark Gurman, Apple September 12 event: iPhone 15 charging Port Change to USB-C from lightning, BLOOMBERG (Sept. 3, 2023), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2023-09-03/apple-september-12-event-iphone-15-charging-port-change-to-usb-c-from-lightning-lm3gn2hs?embedded-checkout=true.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.