EU may force Apple to add USB-C ports to iPhones

A proposal would require a universal charging solution for phones and other devices, but Apple said it could stifle innovation.

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The European Commission on Thursday revealed a proposal that would require phones and other electronic devices to include a common USB-C charging port, to reduce waste by letting people reuse their old chargers on new devices. This move would mainly impact Apple, which uses its own Lightning connector on its iPhones instead of USB-C.

In addition to phones, the rules would apply to tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video game consoles.

The revised Radio Equipment Directive proposal would also require unification of fast-charging standards and that customers be able to buy new devices without a charger and be given clear guidelines about the charging standards their device supports.

The proposal will require a European Parliament vote to become law, but that parliament voted in favor of common charger rules last year. Device manufacturers would have 24 months to adapt to the new rules.

Watch this: USB-C gets big power boost

"European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers," Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's executive vice president, said in a release. "We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger."

In a statement emailed to CNET, Apple noted that it shared the European Commission's commitment to protecting the environment and highlighted its goal of making all its devices carbon neutral by 2030.

"We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world," an Apple spokesperson said.

But Apple, whose new iPhone 13 goes on sale Friday, has been gradually shifting over to USB-C on many of its products. The connector technology came to MacBooks in 2015, the iPad Pro in 2018 and the iPad Air in 2020. Last week, the company announced that the latest iPad Mini is also equipped with USB-C.

See also: Should you upgrade to iPhone 13? We compare it to the iPhone 12, 11, XS, X, 8 and 7 to find out