Apple will ditch the Lightning connector on its iPhones, the company has confirmed, after European regulators decided all smartphones should have USB charging as standard in two years' time.
New EU rules require all phones sold after autumn 2024 to use the USB-C connector for their charging ports. The oval-shaped plugs are already standard on other consumer electronics such as e-readers, games consoles, laptops and the vast majority of new Android phones.
[...] Now, Apple's head of marketing, Greg "Joz" Joswiak, says the company is conceding defeat. "Obviously we'll have to comply, we have no choice," he told a technology conference in California.
But, he argued, it "would have been better environmentally and better for our customers to not have a government be that prescriptive".
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Every iPhone user likely has had one Lighting cable fray [on] them. It's been an annoying issue, and one that's driven third-party sellers to create braided cables that can withstand more abuse.
It seems that Apple is at the very least researching ways to make its cables more resilient. According to a patent filing first noticed by AppleInsider, Apple has been working on a "cable with variable stiffness" that gets thicker toward the ports.
Lightning cables are known for having thick connector points. It's what Apple internally refers to as the strain relief sleeve. While the ends of Apple cables are meant to keep the cable from fraying, often those areas become pressure and kink points. Apple acknowledged as much in its patent filing.
"In addition to making the cable locally stiffer, the strain relief sleeve also makes the cable thicker at the ends. In some instances, the added thickness may not be desired," the patent filing reads.
To get around this, Apple is essentially designing a cable that has denser material toward the ends that tapers off. [...]
USB-C to be mandatory for phones sold in the EU by autumn 2024
The EU have agreed legislation, alternate link, forcing all future smartphones sold in the EU — including Apple's iPhone — be equipped with USB-C port for wired charging by autumn 2024. The rule will also apply to other electronic devices including tablets, digital cameras, headphones, handheld video game consoles, and e-readers. Laptops will have to comply with the rule at a later date.
The legislation still needs to be approved by the EU Parliament and Council later this year, but this appears to be a formality. In a press release, the European Parliament stated clearly that the law will be in place "by autumn 2024." By this date, all devices covered by the law and sold in the EU will have to use USB-C for wired charging.
EU Agrees Single Mobile Charging Port in Blow to Apple
Apple (AAPL.O) will have to change the connector on iPhones sold in Europe by 2024 after EU countries and lawmakers agreed on Tuesday to a single mobile charging port for mobile phones, tablets and cameras in a world first.
The political intervention, which the European Commission said would make life easier for consumers and save them money, came after companies failed to reach a common solution.
Brussels has been pushing for a single mobile charging port for more than a decade, prompted by complaints from iPhone and Android users about having to switch to different chargers for their devices.
The UK government says it is not "currently considering" copying European Union plans for a common charging cable.
The EU has provisionally agreed all new portable electronic devices must, by autumn 2024, use a USB Type-C charger, a move it says will benefit consumers.
[....] Under the current post-Brexit arrangements, the regulation would apply to Northern Ireland, according to EU and UK officials.
[....] Since the EU's announcement, it had been uncertain if the decision could affect Apple products sold in the UK and other non-EU countries in Europe.
But a UK government spokesperson has told MailOnline: 'We are not currently considering replicating this requirement.'
[....] This complicates things for Apple; the firm might have to make devices with USB-C ports to sell in EU countries and Northern Ireland, as well as making devices with a Lightning ports to sell in the UK and other non-EU countries.
To simplify things, Apple could just opt to make devices with USB-C ports in the whole of Europe.
India is on a path to require USB-C charging ports in almost all smart devices following actions taken by an inter-ministerial task force.
Rohit Kumar Sing, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said the move is "in the interest of consumer welfare and prevention of avoidable e-waste."
The broad consensus in the meeting was that USB-C would be required for electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops – but "feature phones" could end up with a different charging option. A sub-committee was formed to determine the fate of wearable devices.
But things won't change overnight. The move toward USB-C will be done in phases to ensure industry and consumers alike have time to adapt.