Apple has been handed a firm switch over date to implement the USB-C universal charger in its iPhone models.

After more than a decade of trying, the European Union in October 2022 finally agreed a common (or universal) charging standard (USB-C) for all mobile devices. It meant that from Autumn 2024, all electronic devices would need to support USB-C charging.

Soon after that Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing reluctantly told The Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference, “obviously we’ll have to comply.”

Universal charger deadline

Until now, Apple’s deadline to change from its proprietary lightning connector, introduced in September 2012 (with the iPhone 5), was simply Autumn 2024.

But last Friday, the EU rules on USB-C were published by the European Commission, setting an almost two-year deadline of 28 December 2024 for all portable devices to comply, Sky News reported.

The law has entered the EU’s Official Journal, with the exact date for the changeover.

Meanwhile laptop have been given longer to implement the universal charging standard, with an enforcement date of 28 April 2026.

Other devices that charge exclusively wirelessly, such as the Apple Watch, are exempt.

So Apple will likely implement USB-C on its iPhone 16 portfolio at the very latest, although the switch could come sooner with the iPhone 15 in September 2023, (new model line-ups are typically released every September).

However Apple may just decide to surprise everyone and drop all charging ports on its iPhones (much like it did with the headphone jack) and simply switch all iPhones to wirelessly charging only.

Apple will also have to switch its AirPods cases and Mac mice to the universal charging standard.

Agreed standard

This issue of a universal (or common) charger has been hanging around for 13 years, after the majority of smartphone manufacturers (including Apple) adopted the voluntary Micro-USB standard back in 2009.

The final micro-USB design charger was officially agreed in 2010 with ten mobile phone makers including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia (remember them?), so that they could standardise their chargers for new models of smartphones coming into the market in 2011.

But that ambition and timeframe was never achieved, and in 2014 the European Parliament gave its formal support for an universal charger for smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics.

Apple however had already introduced its 8 pin Lightning connector in September 2012, and it took advantage of a loophole in the European Union 2010 agreement (it was only a voluntary memorandum of understanding) to carry on using its Lightning connector.

In September 2021 the European Commission had presented its draft legislation for a common charging port, and in April 2022 the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee backed the proposal for a common (or universal) charger.

The European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee officially agreed with the Commission’s proposal on the common charger in April this year, before the requirement was adopted in October this year.

Apple has in the past warned that the universal charger would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronics waste.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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