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European Union to enforce the use of USB-C chargers for all phones

BBC

Manufacturers will be forced to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices, under a new rule proposed by the European Commission (EC).

The aim is to reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device. All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, the proposal said. Apple has warned such a move would harm innovation.

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

“We remain concerned that 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 firm told the BBC.

New models of the iPad and MacBook use USB-C charging ports, as do high-end phone models from popular Android manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei.

The changes would apply to the charging port on the device body, whereas the end of the cable connecting to a plug could be USB-C or USB-A.

Around half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the European Union in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29% had a USB C connector and 21% a Lightning connector, a Commission impact assessment study in 2019 found.

The proposed rules will apply to:

smartphones

tablets

cameras

headphones

portable speakers

handheld video game consoles

Other products including earbuds, smart-watches and fitness trackers were not considered for technical reasons linked to size and use conditions.

The proposal also standardises fast charging speeds – meaning devices capable of fast charging will be charged at the same speeds.

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