Universal portable charger: Apple overtaken by Europe

The solution will suit everyone … or almost. The European Commission on Thursday took a new step towards the establishment of a universal charger for the benefit of mobile phone users. The Union hopes that this idea, launched twelve years ago, will take effect in 2024. In addition to adapting their connectors, manufacturers could no longer supply chargers for their devices.

“On average, a consumer has about three mobile phone chargers,” the institution explains in its press release. This is too much for European legislators, especially when almost one in four would have been unable to charge their device at least once because the available chargers were incompatible. Therefore, around 2.4 billion euros a year would be spent on independent chargers not sold with their electronic devices.

To the economic nonsense comes the ecological nonsense. The measure, which was presented on Thursday, will thus reduce the amount of discarded or unused electronic waste by 1,000 tonnes each year, almost 10% of the total waste (11,000 tonnes).

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Goodbye Apple “Lightning”?

The selected connector for these universal chargers? USB-C, complete, fast – a big argument – and has already been used for a few years by many manufacturers like Samsung, Google or Huawei, replacing the outdated micro-USB. In truth, only Apple is shrinking. If the Apple brand uses it for its computers and tablets, since 2013 its smartphones have had a unique connection, which they own: “Lightning”.

In addition to phones, the measure will benefit other devices. “With today’s proposal to revise the Radio Equipment Directive, charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonized: for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and portable video game consoles”, boasts the Commission.

The question now is: will Apple comply? As BFMTV mentions, the company run by Tim Cook invests heavily in wireless charging. ANEC, an association defending consumers’ rights on issues related to technological standards, warns against any naivety in Europe on this subject. “It is important to avoid fragmentation in this niche! Since the legislation will take time to be discussed and adopted, it should also cover wireless charging,” she said in a statement.

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But at the moment, Apple is mainly focusing its defense on its ecological commitments and more specifically its plan to make its activities “100% CO2-neutral” by 2030. In this context, the company has been keeping the charger socket since the iPhone 12, already ceasing to supply in their boxes. Only the cable is present. In France, the law requires him to still wear headphones (for the hands-free set), which is no longer the case in the United States. Finally, Apple reminds that with this law, its millions of “Lightning” chargers will also one day pile up in the drawers of European consumers.

The American giant finally claims, “that a single type of connector suffocates innovation instead of encouraging it”. A feature that will ultimately “harm consumers in Europe and around the world”. An opinion shared especially by analyst Benedict Evans, a connoisseur of Silicon Valley. “What if in five years someone wants to use a better plug?” He writes. on Twitter.

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Apple could ultimately be just one sling among others. The European text intends to “help ensure that the charging speed is the same regardless of the compatible charger used with a device”. However, fast charging technologies are now at the core of smartphones’ sales policies, including USB-C. Manufacturer Oppo, for example, intends to recharge its smartphones in just 20 minutes thanks to its “Super Vooc” system. Xiaomi, with its 11T Pro model integrating its “HyperCharge” technology, boasts a 17-minute recharge. Will they be able to keep their promises and stand out from the others in Europe with these universal chargers?



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