Apple has confirmed it will ditch the Lightning port for USB-C in its iPhones, but only because it “must”.
During an interview in California, Apple CEO Greg Joswiak said the tech giant will have to “abide” by a new law recently passed by the EU.
The law, signed earlier this month, makes USB-C connectors – currently used by Android-based devices – the standard charging technology in the EU.
That means Apple will have to replace its proprietary Lightning charging technology, recognizable by its eight pins, with USB-C in EU countries.
Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, spoke Tuesday evening at WSJ Tech Live, the Wall Street Journal’s annual technical conference, in Laguna Beach, California.
He said: ‘Obviously we’ll have to stick to that; we have no choice, just as we do around the world to comply with local laws.
“But we think the approach would have been better for the environment and better for our customers if the government hadn’t been so prescriptive.”
iPhones currently use Apple’s proprietary power connector technology “Lightning” (top right). But Apple will have to comply with a new EU law that makes USB-C (bottom right) the EU standard. This means iPhones sold in EU countries must come with USB-C instead of Lightning
THE NEW EU LAW
Passed by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on October 4, the new EU law will force Apple to stop selling iPhones with its own power connector, known as “Lightning,” in EU countries.
It will instead make USB-C connectors — currently used by Android-based devices — the EU standard, forcing Apple to change the charging port on its new products.
The law, which will come into effect in 2024, only affects EU countries.
However, to make operations easier and cheaper, the company could abandon Lightning entirely by equipping every iPhone sold worldwide with USB-C.
Either way, Apple will have to abide by the law, so iPhones sold in EU countries must come with USB-C instead of Lightning.
He was joined by Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.
Joswiak, in particular, didn’t seem happy when discussing the law, saying, ‘I don’t mind governments telling us what they want to achieve, but usually we have pretty smart engineers to figure out the best ways to technically achieve them. ‘
Neither Joswiak nor Federighi confirmed on Tuesday that this will be the first iPhone with USB-C.
When asked by Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal, Joswiak replied, seemingly annoyed, “Don’t try to let me predict the future.”
He also said, “The Europeans set the timing for European customers.”
Keep in mind that the law will go into effect in the fall of 2024, around the time Apple is expected to release the iPhone 16.
However, according to Apple tipster Mark Gurman, Apple is continuing to plan to comply with the law by making the iPhone 15, which will be released in the fall of next year, the first iPhone with USB-C.
Apple also didn’t say whether USB-C would be on iPhones sold outside the EU.
Following the approval of EU law, Apple will be able to sell iPhones with Lightning ports in non-EU countries, including the UK, and the rest of the world.
Apple executives Greg Joswiak (right) and Craig Federighi (center) were interviewed by Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal (left)
In public, Apple has long argued that EU law could harm innovation and create a mountain of electronics waste
What is USB-C?
USB-C is an industry standard connector for transmitting both data and power over a single cable.
It was developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the group of companies that developed, certified and led the USB standard over the years.
Members of USB-IF include Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Samsung.
At first glance, the USB-C connector resembles the micro-USB connector used in old Android smartphones.
However, it is more oval in shape and slightly thicker.
One of the best features of the USB-C is its ‘flippability’, meaning it doesn’t have a ‘correct’ orientation and can be used either way.
But to make operations easier and cheaper, the company could ditch Lightning entirely by equipping every Apple device sold worldwide with USB-C.
The EU’s new law, signed on October 4 this year, covers not only phones but also tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, portable video game consoles and portable speakers.
Laptops are also covered, but manufacturers will be given additional time to comply (until 2026).
Of course, Apple fans in affected countries can still use their old Lightning chargers and devices with Lightning ports.
But new devices sold in affected countries from 2024 must be USB-C.
Ultimately, it should make life easier for consumers who are tired of fiddling through a tangle of cables for the right one.
But Apple has long argued that the law could harm innovation and create a mountain of electronics waste.
When the deal was reached in June, it was uncertain whether the decision could affect Apple products sold in the UK and other non-EU countries in Europe.
But a UK government spokesperson previously told MailOnline: “We are not currently considering repeating this requirement.”
Apple will have to equip its iPhones and other devices with a USB-C charger (pictured), which is already being used for Android devices
iPhones use Apple’s proprietary ‘Lightning’ power connector technology, identified by its eight pins (pictured)
However, Northern Ireland will have to abide by the rule because of the current post-Brexit regulations, namely the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Northern Ireland Protocol was struck to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland separating the north from the republic after Brexit.
But it means Northern Ireland will continue to follow some rules for the European single market. The Republic of Ireland is an EU country and will therefore also have to comply.
WHY APPLE opposes USB-C
Apple has long been a thorn in the side of EU plans to enforce a unified standard for charging cables.
Apple claims that changing its iPhone charging ports to USB-C would stifle innovation.
Last year, an Apple spokesperson said: “We believe that regulations imposing harmonization of smartphone chargers would stifle rather than encourage innovation.
“It will harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.”
It is believed that the company also prefers its proprietary cable for its higher water resistance than USB-C.
In addition, Apple is able to regulate the quality of lightning cables and accessories through the “Made for iPhone” program.
This is also a source of profit that the company is likely to be reluctant to part with.
However, Apple transitioned its iPad tablets to USB-C in 2018.