iPhone 12 may be forced to ditch the Lightning port (UPDATE: Vote Passed)

(Image credit: ConceptsiPhone/YouTube)

Update 1/31, 4:17 pm: The European Union has officially voted in favor of a universal charging standard, bringing Apple one step closer to having to adopt USB-C across the board. If this is passed into law (which could happen by Q3 2020 according to TechCrunch), all smartphone makers would have to adopt the same charging standard.

If the European Commission does it job promptly, Apple will be forced to use USB-C for the new iPhone 12 line at least in the European Union.

According to Reuters, the European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to pass legislation to force all electronics manufacturers to use one single port standard. The body‘s resolution — which was approved in a 582-40 vote — calls the EC to pass the new regulation no later than July 2020. And that’s bad news for Apple (and great for consumers) because that will mean that the iPhone 12 will have to use USB-C.

Increase convenience, reduce waste

Since Apple is expected to release the iPhone 12 around September 2020, it’s more than probable than it will have to drop its old, tired and proprietary Lightning port on its next flagship. Again, that's if the EC passes the new regulation within the timeline proposed by the parliament and Apple doesn’t try any tricks to delay the adoption.

And while the European Parliament hasn’t specified that USB-C must be the standard — in fact, it calls for the commission to choose between USC-C, Micro USB and Lightning as the single standard — it is extremely unlikely that the commission will force the entire electronics industry to drop USB-C to adopt Apple’s proprietary port. Nobody but the Cupertino company uses it, and it is a license-only closed technology, thanks to its DRM chip.

The European Union is making the move after passing a resolution that asked companies to voluntarily adopt USB-C as the charging port standard. A resolution that everyone and their dog have adopted except for Apple.

Tired of Apple’s defiance, the EU has had enough and it will now force all electronics to use a common standard with two objectives.

First, because it’s more convenient to users, of course. People living in the Apple garden find themselves carrying a minimum of two chargers if they have an iPhone and a laptop or tablet — even if said laptop or tablet are made by Apple, which has moved to USB-C charging in MacBooks and the iPad Pro.

The second objective is to increase reusability. If you can use one single adapter to charge all your devices, you are not wasting plastic and gratuitously contributing to more carbon emissions. That also leads to less waste, of course. According to the EU resolution, the average EU citizen generated 36.6 pounds of waste in 2017, which totaled 12.3 million tonnes across the Union.

How would this affect Apple and you?

Of course, Apple disagrees despite its pledge to support the environment and has been trying to lobby the parliament to avoid legislation, claiming that, somehow, a single standard will increase waste. How in hell, you ask? Because, in an Alan Dershowitz-worthy leap of logic, Apple suggests that its existing consumers will have to drop their current Lightning cables. Obviously, nobody will have to drop their existing Lightning port gear and their current iPhones and iPad won’t stop working in the EU.

The move would means four things for Apple:

1. That it will have to include a USB-C cable in its iPhone 12 box (if the EC indeed approves the new regulation by July).

2. That it will have to drop its  “Made for iPhone” program that charges third party manufacturers to use a proprietary Apple DRM chip if they want to sell Lightning port peripherals.

3. That Apple will have to drop its current line of inferior and incredibly expensive chargers and Lightning cables — which are infamous for their absurdly high failure rate. This is one of the most lucrative business for the Cupertino company because it sells so many replacements and the margins are insanely high. Remember: the Lightning cable is Apple’s best selling peripheral.

4. And lastly, Apple will probably have to adopt USB-C across the world. Known for being a company that uses economies of scale so effectively, it will be very hard to believe that Apple will maintain two versions of the iPhone, one with Lightning and one with USB-C. Plus, the iPad Pro and the MacBooks already use USB-C. If Apple is forced to ditch Lightning in Europe, it will most likely ditch it everywhere.

And those four things are good for all Apple users — and planet Earth as a whole!

The Lightning Port is about to die. And good riddance, I say.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.