The European Union (EU) has passed legislation that will require device manufacturers to standardize on USB-C charging cables by autumn 2024.
The EU has been working for some time to standardize charging cables in an effort to cut down on electronic waste and save consumers money. The latest bill initially targets small and medium-sized devices, including phones, tablets, earbuds, headphones, headsets, e-readers, digital cameras, portable speakers, and handheld gaming consoles that are rechargeable. All will be required to use USB-C for charging.
While the law goes into effect for the small to medium-sized devices in autumn 2024, laptop makers will have an additional 40 months to make changes, after which they will be required to standard on USB-C as well.
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Parliament’s rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) said: “Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe! European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics. We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers”.
The move, at least initially, primarily impacts Apple. The company still manufactures a number of iPhones and iPads that use its Lightning port. In contrast, much of the Android ecosystem already runs on USB-C.
The issue becomes more complicated once the law begins to apply to laptops. While many manufacturers, including Apple, have begun adopting USB-C for their laptop chargers, many still use the traditional barrel charger.
While the law only applies to the EU, it’s a safe bet many manufacturers will make the switch worldwide, rather than support different designs for inside and outside the EU. As a result, incompatible chargers may soon be a thing of the past for all consumers.