Smartphones and many other gadgets must be able to be charged with a USB-C cable in the European Union from the autumn of 2024. The European Parliament agreed to this today. What consequences does this have for manufacturers and consumers?
In the European Union, USB-C is becoming the mandatory connection for charging many gadgets. The European Parliament today approved by a large majority the new legislation that regulates this. An agreement had already been reached with the negotiators of the EU member states in June.
The new rules have been discussed within the EU for more than ten years. MEP and rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba calls the outcome a ‘future-proof law’. “Everyone will benefit from this: from frustrated consumers to the environment,” Saliba said.
What should manufacturers do?
New devices, such as smartphones, tablets, earphones and e-readers, will soon have to have a USB-C port. That obligation will come into effect 24 months after the publication of the legislation, which is in the autumn of 2024. For laptops it will only apply after 40 months. From then on, consumers should be able to choose whether they want to buy new devices with or without a charger. The EU may later enforce that devices and chargers may no longer be sold together.
Why is this necessary?
This should ensure that consumers have to buy a new cable or plug less often. Brussels estimates that this could save consumers in the EU 250 million euros annually. According to a survey, 38 percent of consumers currently complain about issues with unsupported chargers.
The measure should also reduce the amount of electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste is a growing problem: a third of chargers are not used by EU consumers. According to Brussels, the new legislation will save a thousand tons of e-waste every year.
Which devices will the rules apply to?
For all small and medium-sized portable electronic devices, such as telephones, tablets, headphones, earplugs, e-readers, portable speakers, handheld game consoles, digital cameras, mice and keyboards. Because some laptops use a different adapter because they require a lot of power, laptop manufacturers are given longer time for the transition.
For which manufacturer are the consequences greatest?
For Apple, which has resisted the new EU rules for years. Apple currently does not use USB-C in the iPhones and charging cases for the AirPods, but its own Lightning connection. That will soon no longer be possible. The question is when Apple will launch its first iPhones with USB-C. This may happen a year before the EU rules come into effect, with the iPhone 15 in the fall of 2023. Apple may choose to make iPhones only wirelessly rechargeable in the future.
Are there also consequences for other manufacturers?
Yes, the new rules also concern fast chargers and that also affects manufacturers of Android phones and tablets. The EU will harmonize fast charging so that users can charge devices at the same speed with any supported USB-C charger. Manufacturers must support the standard USB Power Delivery. Some Android smartphone manufacturers currently include special fast chargers that are only suitable for one particular phone model. Under the new rules, they can continue to use their own fast charging standards, as long as they also offer USB Power Delivery. The minimum power that the charger must supply is 25 watts.
What happens if there is a better connection than USB-C?
The European Commission says it will continue to monitor when USB-C has to make way for a newer, better standard.