IPhones in Australia may end up with different chargers after the EU’s universal push

Dogs have been chewed, displaced, stolen, repaired, tripped over, tangled, runny and sworn.

Your iPhone charger may now be about to disconnect permanently.

Key points:

  • The EU imposes a single type of charger for smartphones and similar electronic devices
  • This will likely force Apple to change the design of iPhones sold worldwide
  • This is bad news if you just bought a wired headset for your iPhone

Last week, the European Commission reached an interim agreement requiring smartphones and other similar devices sold within EU borders to use the same USB-C charging port.

While the rules do not highlight the iPhone, Apple is hardest hit by the change and has pushed hard against a mandate that would effectively ban its proprietary Lightning connector, which has been standard on new iPhones since 2012.

This is what the proposed changes to EU regulations mean for Australians.

What does the EU propose?

Hardware manufacturers and technology companies will have until the end of 2024 to make sure that the specified products sold in the EU have USB-C ports.

USB-C is fast becoming the standard charger for electronic devices. (Getty: Dmytro Skrypnykov)

These products include smartphones, tablets, headphones, cameras, e-readers, portable game consoles, keyboards, and computer mice.

Laptop manufacturers have a little more time: 40 months from the time European lawmakers approve the deal, which should be soon.

Why is the EU doing this?

According to the European Commission, a universal charger for smartphones and other devices will save people money, drive innovation in wireless charging, and reduce e-waste, or e-waste.


He says European consumers spend about 2.4 billion euros ($ 3.58 billion) a year on stand-alone chargers they bought separately, and the deal would save about 240 million euros ($ 358 million).

What does Apple say?

Almost the opposite.

According to Apple, the mandate will increase e-waste and slow innovation.

“We are concerned that strict regulation that requires only one type of connector will stifle innovation, rather than encourage it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” Apple said last year.

In response, the commission said smartphone makers would have a 24-month transition period and “enough time” to go online.

What does this mean for Australians?

Apple could make USB-C standard on all new iPhones or only on those sold in the EU.

The first option was the most likely, said Michael Cowling, a computer science expert at Central University of Queensland.

“It’s the end of Lightning’s life.”

Unused cables can be recycled for copper and plastic. (Getty: mikroman6)

The situation is comparable to that of 5G a couple of years ago, when several countries had different standards, Dr. Cowling said.

“At first, they had slightly different phones for different markets, but as soon as they were able to have universal 5G phone chargers, they did.”

For Apple, a global standard means more streamlined supply chains.

So the change in rules in Europe means that iPhones sold in Australia will probably also have USB-C.

“It will be cheaper to make USB-C everywhere,” Dr. Cowling said.

This could affect the resale value of iPhones, he added.

“And it probably bothers people too.”

What is USB-C?

It is fast becoming the standard charger for electronic devices.

Almost all Android smartphones now use USB-C charging, as do Apple MacBooks and iPads, and many other new laptops.

Computer professional Peter Saville said USB-C ports were less likely to “run out” than Lightning.

“Many iPhone repairmen would tell you that plugged-in ports are the highest failure rate apart from cracked screens,” he said.

“USB-C can be cleaned quite easily.”

What about my Lightning accessories?

If you want your Lightning Connector headset or other wired iPhone accessory to work with USB-C once you upgrade your phone, you’ll have to pay an additional $ 20 for an adapter.

The same thing happened in 2012, when Apple introduced Lightning to its new iPhones, replacing the thicker Dock connector.

“Everyone who had accessories for a Dock connector had to switch to Lightning,” Dr. Cowling said.

This is especially bad news for third-party iPhone accessories makers.

“Unfortunately, manufacturers of these accessories will have to sell their old accessories to get a discount.”

What can I do with my old cables?

Once it’s time to put the Lightning cable back on track, send it to Mobile Muster or drop it off at one of the nonprofit’s recycling bins located in electronics stores and phone repair shops. mobile phones.

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“There is a lot of valuable material to use,” said Warren Overton, executive director of the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP).

“We save more than a ton of carbon dioxide per ton of e-waste we recycle.”

He said a common charger should “theoretically” reduce e-waste.

“Surely having a universal charger will make everyone’s job easier.”

Dr. Cowling predicts that Apple could soon abandon charging ports altogether.

“It will tell us all that we are going to wireless charging,” he said.

That would mean even more cables to recycle.

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