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Time is running out for Apple’s Lightning charger

In the European Union, USB-C has triumphed over competing charging standards (EU). Beginning on December 28, 2024, all consumer electronics sold in the region must have the ability to charge via USB-C connection. This includes smartphones, tablets, and many more gadgets. Consequently, time is running out for Apple’s Lightning, the only major corporation holding out against the USB-C conquest.

Today, The Verge noticed that the EU’s USB-C legislation has been published in the Official Journal, as notified by the European Parliament Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Official Journal of the EU’s Twitter accounts. The deadline for complying with the law is set for 2024, with enforcement beginning on December 27.

At first, the law will effect mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headsets, earbuds, portable speakers, handheld game consoles, e-readers, keyboards, mice, and portable navigation systems. As of April 2026, portable computers are included.

This regulation is “essential, in particular for the benefit of consumers and other end users,” as stated in an EU directive, because it “simplifies the use of radio equipment and avoids wasteful waste and expenses.”

It states that the EU government is concerned with “avoiding fragmentation of the market for charging devices,” despite the fact that the number of different types of charging devices has decreased over time. This is because the EU government is still dissatisfied with e-waste production and consumer convenience.

In the USB-C era

There have been efforts to pass a European universal charger law for more than a decade, and in September 2021, those efforts began to gain significant traction. Apple’s long-standing opposition to a switch to universal charging has been cemented by the bill’s publishing.

According to Engadget, Apple broke with industry standards in 2009 when Micro USB became the universally accepted charging connector for smartphones. Furthermore, Apple would prefer that no governing body regulate the prices at which its products are sold after December 28, 2024.

Apple has argued that transferring what it says is 1 billion gadgets off its Lightning wire will be disruptive to consumers and cause a significant quantity of e-waste—ironically, exactly the opposite of what advocates think the rule will permit.

“Governments get to do what they’re gonna do, and clearly we’ll have to cooperate,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, told The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in October.

“To avoid legal trouble, we must follow local regulations just as we do everywhere else. Without the government being so restrictive, however, we believe the approach would have been better for the environment and our customers.”

If we really wanted to pull this apart, we could say that compliance may mean numerous different things for the iPhone. However, all indicators point to Apple delivering an iPhone with USB-C in the near future. Earlier this year, Bloomberg claimed that a USB-C iPhone might be released as soon as next year. As of yet, it is unclear whether or not this means the Lightning port will be discontinued in regions outside of the European Union.

However, USB-continuous C’s seizure of consumer devices—including mass adoption and increased power supply capabilities and the evolution of specs like USB4—is only winning the connector greater popularity. DIY USB-C iPhone sells for $86,001, which isn’t representative of the market but does demonstrate there’s curiosity in the connector’s potential compatibility with Apple’s smartphone.

Finally, Apple may eventually face universal charging requirements in markets outside the EU.

Legislation mandating USB-C charging is being considered in Brazil, while in the United States, some legislators are calling for it to be standard.

Circumnavigating the USB-C requirement by making iPhones depend on wireless charging isn’t a final solution either. The EU seems intent on enforcing this despite the technical challenges involved, since it states in its directive that this “should in the future also be considered.”

The European Union (EU) has indicated its willingness to modify its rules in light of emerging wired charging solutions, however others remain concerned that this may stifle creativity.