EU lawmakers might be in favor of diversity, but not when it comes to smartphone chargers. Today, these lawmakers called for the creation of one standard charger for all mobile devices. Reuters reports that by an overwhelming vote of 582-40, members of the European Parliament passed a resolution that asks the European Commission (the body that drafts laws for the EU) to make sure that buyers of mobile devices no longer are under the obligation to purchase a new charger every time they buy a new device. The resolution calls for the EC to adopt new rules by this coming July.
The idea is to reduce the amount of electronic waste that the EU is dealing with. During 2016, the last year that data was made available, such waste generated in the EU added up to 12.3 million tonnes or 36.6 pounds for each person living in the EU. The resolution noted that requiring a standard charger for mobile devices could reduce the amount of electronic waste and it also asked the Commission to pass a rule making sure that wireless chargers could be used to power up different mobile devices.
Analyst says Apple is considering a port-less iPhone as soon as 2021
The EC has actually been fighting for a standard mobile charger for over 10 years. in 2009, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia signed a "voluntary memorandum of understanding" calling for these phone manufacturers to use standard chargers for phones that were coming to the marketplace in 2011. But it is obvious to the EC after nearly 10 years that the voluntary approach has not worked and that legislation is going to be needed in order to force the phone manufacturers to take action.
The company that is on the line with this proposal is Apple. That is because most Android phones have a USB-C port which is the closest thing to a common charging platform that the mobile industry has today. However, Apple has its proprietary Lightning port which has been in use since 2012 when it replaced the 30-pin dock connector. Apple did switch to USB Type-C for the 2018 iPad Pro models and for the last couple of years there have been rumors about the same thing happening to the iPhone. Many iPhone users have been hoping that Apple switches to Type-C; that could make it easier for them to find accessories for their iPhones and at a lower price, too.
While Apple might end up not having a choice in Europe, it is hard to see the company voluntarily switching to a standard system because of the profits involved. Having a proprietary charging system means that people will have to come to Apple for an original replacement. The company already took a little hit when it introduced the 2019 iPhones by including an 18W fast charger in the box with the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. While the iPhone 8 iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR all support fast charging, owners of those models have to shell out $29 for an 18W charger.
Last month, reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo looked deeply into his crystal ball and said that the highest-end 2021 iPhone might not have a Lightning port or a USB-C port. Kuo is talking about the iPhone 13 Pro Max featuring a "completely wireless experience." If indeed Apple is looking at offering a port-free phone, it could decide that it isn't worth it to make a switch away from the Lightning port for a short period of time.
However, there is still the EU to consider. Apple said last week that the mobile industry is already moving toward the use of Type-C as a standard, but also said that forcing a standard on the industry would hurt consumers in Europe. And Apple also points out that making a quick move to a standard charging platform would create plenty of electrical waste, exactly what the EU is trying to avoid in the first place.