European Lawmakers Want to Force All Smartphones to Have Same Charging Port, Apple Defends Lightning [Updated]

With goals of reducing waste and increasing convenience, European lawmakers today will debate whether all smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices should have a standardized charging port such as USB-C.

At least some members of the European Parliament want "binding measures" that ensure one type of charger is compatible with all portable devices, as the European Commission's previous approach of merely "encouraging" tech companies to develop a standardized solution has "fell short of the co-legislators' objectives," according to a briefing on the European Parliament website today.


The proposed charging ports for portable devices include Micro-USB, USB-C, and the Lightning connector.

Nearly a year ago, Apple said regulations that would force all smartphones to have the same charging port would "freeze innovation," be "bad for the environment," and be "unnecessarily disruptive for customers."
More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users. To be forced to disrupt this huge market of customers will have consequences far beyond the stated aims of the Commission.

Beginning in 2009, Apple led industry efforts to work together to promote a common charging solution. And with the emergence of USB Type-C, we have committed alongside six other companies that all new smartphone models will leverage this standard through a connector or a cable assembly. We believe this collective effort by many of the industry’s leading companies is better for innovation, better for consumers and better for the environment.
A vote on the matter will be held in a forthcoming parliament session. While some members want the policy to be regulated, forcing companies like Apple to comply, there is still a possibility that it will be implemented with a voluntary approach, which could simply be ignored, according to the European Commission.

European lawmakers have been considering similar regulations since at least 2009.

Update Jan 17: The Verge notes that additional information released in relation to this week's debate clarifies that the proposed regulations relate to power adapters rather than the devices themselves, with Apple already in line with the industry by providing USB-A and USB-C chargers.

Top Rated Comments

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2 weeks ago
The only reason Lightning even exists is because Micro USB sucks, and USB-C was not ready in time for the iPhone 5 which needed a physically smaller port.

Apple should put Lightning to rest already and move to USB-C. They already have on iPads and Macs, why is the phone the odd one out? Enough already, Apple! I won't even mind having to buy new cables because it'll probably be the last time.
Rating: 86 Votes
2 weeks ago
What a waste of law making energy. Im guessing the European Parliament has nothing better to do if they are making laws like this.
Rating: 55 Votes
2 weeks ago

We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device

That's right. Instead Apple wants to ship computers that have a (USB-C) port you can't plug your iPhone in (comes with USB-A), and instead of giving you the adapter, sell it to you.
Good for the EU to ensure this never happens again.
Imagine if every company created its own version of the power outlet...
Rating: 48 Votes
2 weeks ago
This is a VERY bad idea. How do we ever move beyond USB C if the entire industry has to move at the same time?? USB C isn't the best port that will ever be invented.
Rating: 44 Votes
2 weeks ago
Government meddling in the tech market always works out well.
Rating: 35 Votes
2 weeks ago

"unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide."

Apple didn't have this stance when it switched to the Lightening connector.
Millions of accessories were rendered useless/obsolete with that switch.

Apple, the king of the dongle.
Rating: 32 Votes
2 weeks ago
I don't like the idea of forcing any company to use specific hardware, even though I am in favor of type C ports. I rather see incentives to use type c than forcing anyone to do so.
Rating: 29 Votes
2 weeks ago
Funny how Apple wasn't so concerned for the environment when they shifted from 30-pin to Lightning. Just switch to USB-C and be done with it.
Rating: 25 Votes
2 weeks ago
Simple - just get Android to use Lightning, problem solved.
Rating: 23 Votes
2 weeks ago


This is a VERY bad idea. How do we ever move beyond USB C if the entire industry has to move at the same time?? USB C isn't the best port that will ever be invented.

No, but it's a very good port that's already in its second (or is it 3rd) generation. It's quite adaptable, and should suffice for a good long time. And when a better port comes along, all of the phone manufacturers can get together and adopt it too. Just like they all* did with USB.

*Excluding Apple, obviously.
Rating: 19 Votes

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