15 October 2020

MacRumors: “The EU wants All Phones to Work with Interoperable Chargers, Here’s what that means for Apple’s Lightning Port”

According to a 2019 impact assessment study on common chargers of portable devices conducted by the EU, almost a fifth of people surveyed reported having faced “significant issues” because of non-standard chargers. Such issues included incompatible chargers between devices, variable charging speeds between different chargers, and having to have several chargers available to cover all needs.

In addition, the EU claims that by agreeing on a common charger standard, it will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tons of electronic waste annually.

The recent 582-40 parliamentary vote in favor of a common charging standard came about because the European Commission’s previous approach of merely “encouraging” tech companies to develop a standardized solution “fell short of the co-legislators’ objectives”, according to a briefing on the European Parliament website.

We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly, said Apple following the recent parliamentary vote. This includes Apple’s USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices. This approach is more affordable and convenient for consumers, enables charging for a wide range of portable electronic products, encourages people to re-use their charger and allows for innovation.

Tim Hardwick

Fast-forward ten months, Apple just launched a new iPhone lineup with the same proprietary Lightning charging port. The only apparent concession – if you can call it that – to this European Union regulation is that Apple straight up removed wall chargers from the packaging, providing only a USB-C to Lightning cable. Technically, Apple is complying with Option 2 outlined in the article above (any manufacturers that wish to use a proprietary port on their device must include an adapter from USB-C to the proprietary connector), but without providing an USB-C AC power plug.

Meanwhile, the iPad is gradually migrating to USB-C, which is now used in three (two iPad Pros and the new iPad Air) of the five current models. This sort of contradicts Apple’s statement above that their power adapter is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices – not to mention the point of this regulation was not to have interoperable charging between devices from the same manufacturer, but across all manufacturers. In typical fashion, Apple acts as if the world outside their own ecosystem does not exist.

Apple iPhone 12 with MagSafe charging

I found the introduction of MagSafe charging on the new iPhone models interesting though – basically wireless charging where the charger stays magnetically attached to the phone. This could open up the possibility of a port-less iPhone in the near future – if wireless charging becomes more efficient, comparable to wired charging. Apple would certainly love to charge people monthly subscriptions for more iCloud storage after they remove the option to physically connect iPhones to a computer for manual backups.

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