Why Apple Is Changing iPhone Chargers Again

Apple's next generation of iPhone devices will come with a USB-C port to charge and connect to devices rather than the proprietary Lightning connector the company has used for years, but not for any technological reason. Last month, the European Union approved a new "common charging standard" that mandates that tech manufacturers must use the same attachments whenever possible to reduce waste. The next generation of iPhones will use a USB-C port, though the one after that may not have any port at all.

The EU's common charging standard applies to virtually all portable electronics including phones, tablets, video game accessories and more. It is meant to cut back on unnecessary electronic waste and prevent tech companies from overcharging for unnecessary accessories. Many industry insiders wondered how Apple would respond to this new rule, and last month the company confirmed that the iPhones would switch to USB-C during The Wall Street Journal's Tech Live event. Apple's marketing chief Greg Joswiak did not seem happy about the change.

The EU's new rule will go into effect in late 2024, so Apple has until then to comply with this order. Joswiak could not say what his company's timeline would be exactly, though a report by Bloomberg claims that the iPhone 15 in 2023 is being designed with a USB-C port. However, the 2023 AirPods will reportedly still use a lightning cable, and Apple will continue pushing toward a "portless" iPhone within the next few years.

The last couple of iPhone iterations have included a magnetic "MagSafe" interface so that phones can be charged wirelessly. Rumors have long held that Apple intends to create an iPhone with no ports whatsoever, making it more waterproof while forcing users to buy the more expensive chargers if they want to have more than one. According to a report by Forbes, the EU's new rule won't stall Apple's MagSafe plans for long because their devices are already interoperable with other "Qi charging devices."

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Even before enacting this charging standard, the EU has been more aggressive than the U.S. government in trying to reign in the tech industry and force some standardization on manufacturers. For the last couple of years, it has been easier to get a smartphone fixed in the EU than the U.S. because laws there force companies like Apple to meet compatibility standards and license third-party repair shops to do work on their devices. These kinds of practices can make a smartphone last much longer, which in turn cuts down on waste and saves the user money. Today, a growing number of advocates are calling for more regulation like this in the tech industry.