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Sunday, July 10, 2022

The European Union makes a USB-C slot mandatory on smaller electronic devices

Starting in the autumn of 2024, all gadgets that can be charged with a wire must use a common standard.

USB-C laadija

The politicians of the European Union reached an agreement on a new law that obliges all phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable game consoles, and e-readers to use the USB-C socket and the USB PD standard for charging from the autumn of 2024. It is planned to impose the same obligation on laptops later.

In addition to the common socket, the new legislation also tries to standardise the charging speeds of fast chargers. Currently, several Asian phone manufacturers use non-standard solutions to achieve very high charging speeds. However, using USB PD on all devices would mean that fast charging is based on the same fundamentals and all chargers are compatible with a wide range of devices. Several major manufacturers such as Google, Apple, and Samsung already use USB-C PD standard chargers.

This change most directly concerns Apple's future, as the iPhone has until now used Apple's own Lightning socket. At the same time, it is obvious that the new guidelines have been adopted by the European Union just when this is changing. Namely, several sources claim that Apple plans to use a USB-C socket instead of Lightning on the 2023 iPhone models. Other Apple products, such as most iPads, MacBooks, and even the newer Beats headphones, already use the USB-C socket. Most other manufacturers have moved to the USB-C standard by now. The exception is only a few very cheap products, in the manufacture of which the price of the USB-C socket makes up a significantly higher percentage of the total cost than using the older and cheaper Micro-USB. But, since this price difference is also quickly disappearing, we will soon see the movement of products in the lower price range to fully use the USB-C standard.

The law still needs to be approved by the EU Parliament and the Council, but, since the agreement is in place, it is now considered a mere formality. The law also obliges manufacturers not to bundle devices with chargers, and to sell them separately. The goal is to reduce e-waste. Since different devices can be charged with a single charger in the case of a common charging standard, this could, at least in theory, reduce the generation of e-waste really significantly.

The new law does not regulate wireless charging standards. While there have been mergers and some clarity achieved on the various standards for wireless charging in recent years, there are still quite a few different approaches that affect speeds and compatibility. However, this means that we will have to wait a while for widespread and fast wireless charging. Until then, we use one charger that powers all of our tech gadgets.