Europe has decided: USB charger also for iPhones

After many indiscretions the European Commission has formalized its position on the charger issue: they should all be USB-C, no one excluded

The European Commission has published its proposal to reform the Radio Equipment Directive that, among other things, includes a clear indication to all consumer electronics manufacturers, including Apple: the USB-C charging port must become the standard for most devices. If it doesn't change anything on Android, it's a blow to Apple's heart.

Cupertino has always preferred the Lightning port to USB, and this standard is still the one used on the latest arrivals, the iPhone 13. For users this means one thing: if you switch from iPhone to Android, or vice versa, you can throw away the charger. If you have both Android and iPhone, however, you have to have two chargers. In both cases it is the environment that loses out, because end-of-career chargers are e-waste in their own right and the more modern and powerful ones, e.g. GaN chargers, are even more difficult to dispose of. The European Commission's proposal now goes to the European Parliament. Then there will be a transition period and, finally, if there are no changes, Apple will have to comply.

Single EU charger: what changes

At the end of the legislative path, net of any changes now unlikely, USB-C will become the standard for charging smartphones, tablets, cameras and camcorders, headphones, portable speakers and portable battery-powered game consoles.

But not only that: manufacturers will have to guarantee the same charging speed with all chargers, from all competing manufacturers. Today's ultra fast charging smartphones charge at low power when powered by non-original or other manufacturers' chargers, even if those chargers have the same power as the original ones.

Consumers should also be given the opportunity to buy a device without a charger, which will probably result in the removal of all chargers from all smartphone and tablet sales packages on the market.

Single EU charger: when will it arrive

This will not come soon enough, but perhaps too late. The Commission's proposal will in fact be discussed, and possibly modified, by the European Parliament. After the final approval there will be a transition period of two years to give hardware manufacturers time to adapt their products.

But that's not all: in order to achieve the single charger it will be necessary to change another European directive, the so-called "Ecodesign", which does not concern the devices to be charged but the chargers themselves. The amendment of the Ecodesign Directive will start by the end of the year and the Commission wants it to go hand in hand with the new Radio Equipment Directive.

If all goes well, it will take about three years before we see the single charger in the consumer electronics market. It will be USB-C, assuming USB-C still exists three years from now.