EU sets date for common phone charge cable

A USB Type-C charger beside Apple's proprietary Lightning cable

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The days of hunting through cables to find the right charger may be coming to an end.

The European Union has provisionally agreed new portable electronic devices must, by autumn 2024, use a USB Type-C charger.

This includes Apple products such as iPhones and iPads, and, ultimately, laptop computers, but will not apply to existing devices.

BBC News has asked the UK government if it intends to pass similar legislation.

‘Stifles innovation’

The EU agreement will be brought before the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, after their summer recess, where it can be formally approved before it is published.

Apple argued against the proposal, when it was first introduced, in September 2021, with a representative telling BBC News:: “Strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world”.

The technology giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made Lightning connector.

The new rule will cover a range of “small and medium-sized portable electronics”, according the EU, including:

  • mobile phones
  • tablets
  • headphones and headsets
  • handheld videogame consoles
  • portable speakers

Any of these charged using a wired cable will have to have a USB Type-C port, regardless of who makes the devices.

Laptops will also have to abide by the ruling but manufacturers will have 40 months after it comes into effect to make changes.

The agreement also includes a plan to let customers choose whether or not they want a charging cable with their new electronics.

“This law is a part of a broader EU effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier,” the EU said in its announcement.

It would save consumers “up to €250m [£213m] a year on unnecessary charger purchases” and cut 11,000 tonnes of waste per year, the EU added.


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