Update: The EU's now discussing making easy smartphone battery replacements a legal requirement too.
The European Union passed legislation for universal USB-C charging in October this year but had not set a specific date for when the law would come into effect. Now, the EU has set an official deadline for when all phones will have to be sold only with USB-C — December 28th, 2024.
One of the most pertinent rumors around the iPhone 15 series is that the iPhone 15 will be the first Apple phone to get USB-C charging, moving away from years of the Lightning port. According to the deadline set by the EU now, it seems like Apple may not have to make the switch that soon.
The December 2024 deadline indicates that phones sold after that date need to have a USB-C port, which means that if Apple launched the iPhone 16 in September that year it could technically still have a Lightning port. It won’t be until the iPhone 17 (that could be launched in 2025) that Apple would mandatorily have to switch its charging ports.
iPhone 15 should be first with USB-C
Apple introduced the Lightning port back in 2012 with the iPhone 5. After ten years with this technology, and multiple devices that people use on a daily basis, users are looking forward to streamlining their charging cables with USB-C and saving some money on this front as well.
These days the vast majority of smartphones do come with USB-C charging and Apple is the only non-conformist amongst major phone manufacturers.
The USB-C port spells good news in more ways than one for users. It is much faster than Lightning. The Lightning port supports USB 2.0 with a data transfer speed of 480Mbps, while USB-C supports USB 3.0 and can transfer data faster at 640Mbps.
Of course, the EU mandate affects iPhones only within its jurisdiction but it is unlikely that Apple will develop two phones in tandem with different charging needs for various regions. Which is why the EU ruling should affect iPhones globally.
Apple recently confirmed that it would make the move to USB-C. The company believes that mandating a switch from Lightning to USB-C will actually create more e-waste than it prevents because of the number of chargers users will have to throw out and replace. That could be taken with a pinch of salt, though, as people will no longer have to buy a Lightning cable, which might hurt Apple’s wallet. Meanwhile, iPhone owners will be able to use the same USB-C cable for multiple devices.
We could see USB-C on iPhones much sooner than the 2024 deadline set by the EU. In fact, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that we could expect to see USB-C on all four rumored iPhone 15 models but with a differentiation of charging speeds within the series. The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max (possibly named iPhone 15 Ultra instead) could have USB-C ports capable of high-speed data transfer, likely using the USB 3.2 or Thunderbolt 3 standard, while the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus could still use the same USB 2.0 speed that the Lightning charger currently comes with.