Apple's Lightning at risk as EU votes for a common charger for all mobile devices

It's an effort to reduce e-waste, but first the European Commission would have to agree on new rules.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert

Europe wants all mobile devices to have a common charger.

Angela Lang/CNET

The European Parliament has voted to have one common charger for all mobile devices -- which could mean the end of the line for Apple's Lightning charger in the EU. The measure passed by a vote of 582 to 40, and it calls for new guidelines to be adopted by July 2020.

The next step would be for the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, to establish new rules governing common chargers.

It's an effort to reduce e-waste being generated in Europe -- but Apple last week argued that being forced to change iPhones from Lighting to USB-C connectors would cause "an unprecedented volume of electronic waste," as it would make the company's accessories obsolete.

"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," Apple said last week. Apple previously made its own accessories obsolete when it switched from its 30-pin connector to Lightning in 2012.

Micro-USB was first declared the standard in 2010, with Apple complying by supplying adapters for its proprietary ports. With the current shift to USB-C charging, Apple now has USB-C connectors in its MacBook and iPad Pro devices, but the iPhone continues to rely on Lightning.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clarification, Feb. 3: Added that the European Commission now needs to take action on the European Parliament's resolution.

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