The lightning cable appears to be on its way out, at least in Europe. On Tuesday, the European Parliament passed a long-awaited rule requiring all phone manufacturers to be compatible with a universal charger by 2024. And USB-C has been recognized as the charging technology that will rule them all.
A universal charging rule has been in the works for eleven years, but the EU only adopted the legislation in June. Members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported the regulation in Tuesday’s vote, with 602 votes in favor, 13 against, and 8 abstentions. Not only will the ban apply to phones, but also to tablets, digital cameras, headphones, handheld consoles, and the majority of other small gadgets. The regulation will also apply to laptop computers beginning in April 2026.
The legislation’s goal is to limit the quantity of electronic trash generated by the tech industry and to assist consumers in making more sustainable choices. That means finally saying goodbye to that drawer full of mysterious, proprietary charging cables and instead trusting that no matter what device you buy, USB-C will always be supported. Buyers will be allowed to select whether their new smartphone arrives with or without a charging cable under the new rules.
Most electronics businesses have already adopted USB-C as a standard charger, with Apple being an outlier. From 2024, at least in Europe, iPhones will be forced to be USB-C compatible. Because of the complexities of producing different phones for different areas, it’s feasible that the new regulation could force Apple’s hand, implying that USB-C will become the standard on iPhones everywhere.
Apple has apparently been testing iPhones with USB-C, although some speculate that the company’s ultimate option would be to rely entirely on wireless charging, with no ports on the iPhone at all. There are arguments for and against this strategy, but it may be determined by what the law needs rather than what Apple want. Apple did not react immediately to a request for comment.
There are still other phases in the EU legislative procedure that must occur before the law becomes effective, but they are primarily formalities at this point. The 2024 deadline allows tech companies throughout the world more than a year to react to the new regulation. It is currently Apple’s move.