220517 projet loi chargeur universel port usbc 00 - Fin du port Apple Lightning en 2024 ?

End of Apple Lightning Port 2024? – cashmere

While it debuted with the iPhone 5 in 2012, the Lightning socket may now be gone for good. We have already discussed this European Commission draft law to set up a universal charger. This affects all manufacturers, but the consequences for the Apple brand are likely to be greater. Nothing has been confirmed yet, however, but if confirmed Apple could ditch its proprietary socket in favor of the USB-C socket used by the main manufacturers.

Apple Lightning: a connector that has been used for more than ten years

I was talking about the iPhone, but Lightning jacks come with many Apple products, from the iPhone to the iPad, including iPods and AirPods. This is an 8 pin reversible connector manufactured by the Apple brand for 10 years. It superseded the 30-pin connector that was released at the same time as the 3rd generation iPod. None of this makes us younger. When it was released, this Lightning Plug probably surprised many people. In fact, other devices, whether smartphones or tablets, came out ahead by being compatible with the standard of the time, the micro USB cable.

With Apple products it has always been possible to use an adapter, but this required an additional accessory. In addition, using an adapter did not allow data exchange. This was just enough to charge the device. From the start, I’ve only talked about the Lightning jack because it’s doomed to disappear, but it’s not the only jack used by Apple products. In fact, iPads (Pro / Air / Mini) and MacBooks (Air / Pro) already have USB-C ports.

A 2021 bill to reduce e-waste

USB-C is becoming the new standard

A draft law by the European Parliament forces manufacturers to sell their batteries with a USB-C socket. In addition to reducing e-waste, there is an interest in preventing the consumer from having to buy a new cable and charger for every electronic device they buy. USB-C would thus officially become the new standard for charging various mobile devices. The draft legislative resolution reads:

…a universal charger should be developed for certain categories or classes of radio equipment, especially for the benefit of consumers. This is also in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and should therefore be implemented

It must be understood that the bill is not just about proposing a universal charger. Indeed, the will is to define the communication protocols and the charging interface of certain devices. And when we talk about the charging interface, it’s actually the jack. We are talking about the connection on the smartphone and not just about a power adapter and a cable.

If this new law is validated, Apple could bury its plug once and for all to join the other manufacturers and thus include a USB-C cable with its devices. Apple will then have to push it like everyone else until 2024. This gives manufacturers time to adapt their products. I’m talking about Apple, but that affects many other brands that make products equipped with micro USB or proprietary connectors (speakers, cameras, tablets or even cameras). According to the draft law, the only exceptions are activity trackers, smartwatches and some sports equipment. It is their small size that allows them to pass this new regulation.

I speak in the conditional because there are still a few steps to go before this law applies in the various EU countries. Now that the committee has given its opinion on this directive, Parliament must start negotiations with the various EU governments. The aim is to arrive at the “final form of legislation”.

Like a déjà vu feeling

This isn’t the first time the European Commission has issued a directive to mandate universal chargers for smartphones, tablets and other types of devices. The aim was already to harmonize what already existed on the market. In 2009, it signed an agreement with several manufacturers to promote the micro USB socket. Many people have adopted this new standard, but always with their own power supply.

You now understand why I talked about the Apple adapter. The Apple brand had managed to “circumvent” this policy to keep their plug compatible only with their devices while offering a small Micro-USB compatible accessory. The Commission acknowledges that progress has been made but the target has not yet been reached. This explains why a new bill is being voted on.

These initiatives have already achieved some success, reducing the number of charging solutions from thirty to just a few main options. However, recent voluntary initiatives do not fully meet the goals of harmonizing EU measures to reduce e-waste…

This proposal looks beyond 2024 as it mandates that the market situation must be assessed every 5 years to harmonize charging solutions for other types of devices such as robotic vacuum cleaners, hair dryers or even electric vehicles.

A clearer display

One of the other chapters of this law concerns the display of information on packaging. Manufacturers must provide clear information about the type of connectors and the presence (or absence) of a charger.

A specific pictogram, placed prominently on the product, is intended to enable consumers to identify before purchasing whether the radio is sold with a charger.

Let’s take smartphones as an example: some brands such as Apple or Samsung no longer offer a mains charger. This is a good move from an e-waste reduction perspective and helps reduce the checkout bill a bit. Other manufacturers, on the other hand, continue to integrate it into their box. I think it’s a good idea to provide information about the contents of the box. I’m not sure if that changes anything in the selling or buying decisions.

220517 USB connector universal charger Bill 01 - End of the Apple Lightning connector in 2024?
Sample image indicating the presence of an external charger

An iPhone 15 with USB-C?

The next iPhone (14?), which will most likely be officially presented in September 2022, should normally retain a Lightning socket. Since the latter is certainly about to be assembled, it would have been impossible to change the connector at the last moment. Unless Apple anticipated this European body decision or decided to launch its iPhone later in the year, I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

The following smartphone (iPhone 15), on the other hand, should have a USB-C socket if all this is confirmed. At least that will be the case if Apple decides to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple surprises us again. She will find a “trick” to stand out from the rest.

The next deadline: the harmonization of wireless charging

The European Commission has no plans to stop wired charging. She took the opportunity to announce a “deadline” for wireless charging. By December 31, 2025, the European body must have presented a strategy aimed at proposing minimum interoperability. Even laptops are integrated into this proposal. If it does not consider an initiative necessary, it must carry out a new assessment every two years.

Apple could then take the plunge by skipping the USB-C socket to switch to wireless charging only. The Lightning socket would then not be abandoned in favor of USB-C, but wireless charging. Of course, this is just a train of thought and it might be a little short to imagine an iPhone without a cable…

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