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EU forces Apple iPhone to adopt USB-C by 2024

The European Parliament has officially voted to force gadgets, including the Apple iPhone, to adopt USB-C by 2024. The move will kill Apple’s Lightning connector and likely lead to standardized power and data connectors worldwide.

The new rules are part of the EU’s drive to reduce e-waste and consumer concerns. The change is estimated to save European consumers 250 million euros ($384 million) a year. End-of-life and unused chargers account for approximately 11,000 tonnes of e-waste in the EU per year.

The new rules, which will take effect in 2024, will not only apply to smartphones, but also to “all small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.”

This includes tablets, cameras, e-readers, handheld video game consoles, and many other devices. Hardware manufacturers then have another 40 months before the rules apply to laptops as well.

On Tuesday, the European Parliament voted to adopt USB-C with 602 votes in favor, 13 against and 8 abstentions. The use of old chargers will not be banned, allowing consumers to continue using existing older devices.

While most gadget makers have already embraced USB-C, Apple has been the main holdout. The 2015 model 12-inch MacBook was the first Apple device to include USB-C, and the connector has since come to several iPad models. Now, Apple is ready to introduce USB-C for the iPhone.

USB-C is an open standard designed to carry more data and power than Apple’s proprietary Lightning standard, for which Apple collects licensing fees from accessory manufacturers. The benefits of USB-C allow for faster charging and data transfer, as well as high-resolution video for connecting to monitors.

Apple introduced the Lightning connector in 2012 when it abandoned the 30-pin dock connector that was introduced with the 3rd generation iPod classic in 2003 and was also used by previous iPhone models.

Instead of adopting USB-C on the iPhone going forward, Apple may deviate from the EU ruling by removing the charging/data port entirely. iPhones already support wireless charging using Apple’s MagSafe and the Qi open standard with wireless data transfer.

The European Parliament statement added: “As wireless charging becomes more common, the European Commission must harmonize interoperability requirements by the end of 2024 to avoid negative impacts on consumers and the environment.”

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