Update (June 17): The U.S. may follow the EU's example if a new Senate request for an American common charger gains support.
Apple may finally be forced to make an iPhone with USB-C connectivity come 2024, as the European Parliament has reached an agreement that USB-C will become the common charging port across Europe by the fall of that year.
This provisional agreement (opens in new tab), which is to be formally approved when the European Parliament comes back from recess, will force electronics and phone makers who want to operate in European Union nations to adopt USB-C as their charging standard. The idea is a common standard will cut down on electronic waste by preventing disparate charging standards and connections that often require devices to have their own chargers and cables.
As such, if Apple wants to continue to sell the likes of iPhones and iPads in Europe, of which there's a population of some 447 million people in the EU, it will need to fully adopt USB-C. That’s not a huge deal, as most of its products, other than the current iPhones, AirPods and the entry-level iPad, can be charged with USB-C.
But this all means that the iPhone will finally need to lose the Lightning connector that’s been a staple of Apple’s phones for years. We say this, as Apple is almost certainly not going to make a separate version of future iPhones for just Europe. And we doubt Cupertino will want to abandon that lucrative market either.
Given that most of Apple's other products have adopted USB-C, it makes sense for Apple to do the same for iPhones. The iPhone 14 was tipped to go the USB-C route, but that smouldering rumor has had water poured on it of late. But come the iPhone 15, or iPhone 16 at the latest, we can expect Apple’s phones to have USB-C charging.
The iPhone 15 would seem to be the most likely candidate to make the swap from Lighting to USB-C as that phone would likely launch early fall of next year. And Apple would likely want to be ahead of legislation rather than drag behind it. That same logic means there's still an outside chance of a USB-C iPhone 14, but we’re not going to hold our breath.
Nevertheless, we feel an USB-C iPhone is a great idea, as it can be frustrating needing to carry around different chargers and cables, even within Apple’s own ecosystem, let alone a mixed one of iOS, Android and Windows devices.