Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said Apple will “comply” with European Union regulations requiring electronic devices to be equipped with USB-C charging. This means that Apple’s iPhones, which currently use the proprietary Lightning charging standard, will need to be modified to support USB-C.
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As always, the next iPhones, expected in September, may have a feature that no other iPhone has: a common charging port.
Newer iPhone models may include a USB Type-C charging port on the bottom of the phone analysts and media reports. It’s the same charging port used in nearly every laptop sold in the past few years, as well as Android phones, iPads, and other devices from Kindles to headphones, drones, and heated blankets.
The USB-C connector will replace Apple’s proprietary Lightning port, which has graced the bottom of every iPhone model released since 2012.
The change would be one of the biggest improvements to the iPhone in recent years for consumers.
iPhone users will no longer need to bring two different cables for their phones and other gadgets when traveling. Android users can borrow chargers from iPhone owners. iPhone users can borrow chargers from anyone using a newer laptop. Schools and businesses can standardize on one type of charger for their entire device fleet. USB-C can even allow iPhones to access faster charging speeds.
while apple has not confirmed that its new iPhones will have a USB-C charging port and did not respond to a request for comment, the change is sure to come.
A new regulation passed by the European Union last year requires USB-C ports on new smartphones by 2024. Apple is unlikely to produce the iPhone model only for the European market. “Obviously, we have to follow through,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s chief marketing officer. he said last year.
Consumer preferences, such as being “locked in” to a single manufacturer, helped shape the basis of the new regulations. The EU estimates that this rule could save Europeans 250 million euros a year. The EU also said that old chargers make up around 11,000 tons of e-waste in the region every year.
Apple opposed the law. In a 2021 letter, Apple said the regulation would hinder future charging innovation, could require devices to be pulled from the market early and could confuse consumers with additional information.
“We are concerned that regulation requiring only one type of connector for all devices on the market will harm European consumers by slowing the adoption of useful innovations in charging standards, including those related to safety and energy efficiency,” Apple said in the letter.
USB Type-C hub connected to laptop with attached cables for peripheral computer equipment
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Every time Apple changes ports on its devices, skeptics believe it’s an attempt to make more money than just high-priced cables. Apple’s most capable USB-C cable retails for $39.
For example, when Apple added USB-C chargers to MacBook laptops starting in 2015, it joked about the dongles needed to connect older accessories to new laptops.
When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone in 2016, it prompted months of commentary both for and against the “bold” change over whether Apple was pushing people toward the more expensive wireless AirPods. It still inspires people today as to whether it was the right decision; most Android phones followed suit.
But while Apple makes money from its cables and has a program called “MFi” for accessory makers to access and official Apple parts, Apple’s strategic focus is making sure its products work together without major glitches, so users keep buying new iPhones. . It’s not nickel and diming dongles and accessories.
Cable sales are reported in the Wearables, Home, and Accessories product line, which Apple says will generate $41 billion in 2022 revenue, although Apple watches and headphones account for the majority of sales. That’s far less than the $205 billion in iPhone sales Apple reported for the year.
Apple’s argument that the new charger will cause confusion holds more water. Companies that want to make officially certified accessories with a Lightning port must apply for the Apple program and pay for access to specifications and official Apple parts. For consumers, this meant that while there were a few lightning devices to avoid, most store-bought docks or watches or cable users would just work.
USB-C is a different beast. This ““standards”, i.e. exact specifications, are published by a group of companies and individuals working together. Anyone can use those specifications to build cables, and you don’t need to sign up for an Apple-run program.
It also means that many iPhone users will learn that not all cables with USB-C connectors are created equal. Some cables can transfer data quickly, while others cannot. Back when the standard was first introduced, some cables could even damage devices due to misconfiguration, although this has become less common in recent years. Some cables even support Thunderbolt, a modern data transfer standard for powerful accessories such as monitors or docks, albeit at a higher cost. There are websites that test and certify cables that are “compliant” with the USB-C standard.
Apple will likely let users know whether the cable is suitable for charging the iPhone, through app alerts, what it carries at retail, and through the MFi app.
But it’s clear that the charger port switch raises the possibilities for frustrating situations that wouldn’t exist when Apple stuck with its own dedicated charger. Apple’s current troubleshooting document for USB-C charging issues on Macs tells users to test with Apple’s official cables and power adapters.
The world won’t change overnight when Apple’s iPhones have USB-C ports. Apple is still developing some of its own charging standards, such as MagSafe, which uses magnets to attach a charging disc to the back of the iPhone. Its Apple Watch also uses a unique magnetic charger. Even after years of using USB-C as the only charging port on MacBook laptops, Apple recently introduced a special magnetic charger on the latest models.
Eventually, Apple watchers predict that the company will likely try to remove ports from the iPhone altogether, but until then, Apple fans with multiple products will still have to carry around several different charging cables.
Still, the USB-C port is a step in the right direction for iPhone users, even if Apple grumbles along the way. Apple opted for an approach that standardized charging bricks but allowed cables to be specific to a device type.
“It allows you to have over a billion people—that’s a small number of people have that connector on the left (pointing to the Lightning cable)—to be able to use what’s already there and not have to be. Apple’s worldwide marketing in 2022, senior vice president Greg Jozwiak said.