Apple may soon be forced to kill Lightning jack for USB-C

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The days of the Lightning port could be numbered. Earlier this week, European lawmakers discussed the possibility of all mobile devices having a common charger, which could lead to an all USB-C future for all smartphones -- even the iPhone.

A newsletter posted on the European Parliament website (via ZDNet) states that members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will insist that "a common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices."

Part of the EU's desire for a common charger seems to be rooted in sustainability. The newsletter notes that older chargers generate "more than 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year." If all phones adapted USB-C, it's likely that less chargers would end up in the trash.

USB-C has already become the standard for most Android phones, including the Google Pixel 4, Samsung Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7T. But Apple has stuck with its proprietary Lightning connector that debuted in 2012 for all of its iPhones and several of its iPads.

The iPhone moving to USB-C would be a significant shift for Apple's handsets, but not an entirely surprising one. Rumors of a USB-C iPhone have been floating for years, with reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo most recently predicting that Apple will ditch the Lightning jack by 2021. The most recent iPad Pro models also feature USB-C ports, allowing the high-end tablets to connect to external monitors, audio interfaces and docks.

Apple spoke against an all-USB-C standard in a 2019 note to the European Commission, stating that "regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it." The company noted that the move would "result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users."

It's too early to tell if the EU's proposed common charger regulation will become law, but it would lead to one of the biggest changes for the iPhone in years. Some hoping for a USB-C standard may be thrilled, while others might mourn their pile of obsolete Lightning cables.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.