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European charger rules will force Apple to ditch Lightning jack from 2024

New rules will cover devices including cameras, tablets, headphones and laptops.

The European Union has come to an agreement on a common set of European charger rules  which will mean Apple will be forced to use a USB C charging port on its iPhones and other devices.

Under the new European charger rules, a wide range of electronic devices – including phones, cameras and eventually laptops – will all be required to provide a USB C charging port. The new legislation will also create the option to apply an EU-wide standard for wireless charging in the future.

The European charger rules will apply from autumn 2024 to devices including mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles, portable speakers, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices. Laptop manufacturers will be given an additional 16 months to introduce USB C charging.

Crucially, the new rules remove the wiggle-room which Apple has exploited up to now. Under previous European charger rules the iPhone maker could get away with bundling a small Lightning-to-USB adaptor with its devices – but this loophole has now been removed.

“In two years’ time, if Apple wants to ... sell their products within our internal market, they have to abide by our rules, and their [device charging port] has to be USB C. This is a rule which will apply to everyone – there's no more memorandum of understanding, and having all the leeway they had during the past 10 years to not abide by this MoU,” said Alex Agius Saliba MEP, who led the negotiations for the European Parliament, at a press conference today.

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The agreement on new European charger rules came on Tuesday, after a six-week negotiation process between the European Parliament and the European Commission – following a consultation process which started in 2021. The new rules still need to be approved by the Parliament and 27 member states.

By covering such a wide range of devices the new European charger rules go much further than previous EU attempts to harmonise device charging. Most non-Apple mobile phones now use USB C, and increasing numbers of other devices also use the port – but some still retain the older micro-USB port, or proprietary charging ports.

Apple has long been the most significant hold-out against USB C in its mobile phones – although it uses USB C for its laptops and high-end iPad Pro tablets. But last month Bloomberg said Apple was testing the use of USB C ports in new iPhone models, well ahead of the new European charger rules coming into force.

Along with reducing the number of chargers consumers need to use, Agius Sabila said the new rules would give “a fairer deal to our environment”.

“Ultimately we are producing between 13,000-15,000 tonnes of electronic waste of chargers, which we barely ever use. From the Commission's impact assessment, one in every three chargers which is bundled from these products is never opened from its original packaging,” he said.

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