The EU is expected to give formal approval to the laws in the coming months, with the deadline for compliance being mid-2024. However, while the laws would only compel companies to stick to USB-C in the European single market, Fadaghi said Apple would likely make the change globally if it hadn’t already planned to do so, which could have some positive effects.
“The EU’s intention is to reduce costs, reduce environmental impact, and improve ease of use for the general public, regardless of what platform they use,” he said.
“And Apple is certainly playing catch up when it comes to connectivity of its handheld devices with peripherals and third-party devices. Android and other devices have been doing it for a long time.”
That’s not to say Apple would entirely give up on licensing proprietary connections or charting its own course when it comes to charging.
Rumours of a portless iPhone have been swirling for years, and only intensified after 2020 when Apple introduced the iPhone version of MagSafe. This ring of magnets on the back of the phone makes wireless charging a more plug-like experience, while also offering another avenue for licensed MFi products; everything from cases and wallets to Pop Sockets and car mounts have been made with MagSafe.
A phone that only charges by wireless induction is definitely possible, and may avoid the EU’s regulation which only refers to devices that charge via cable. And users would be free to use open standard Qi chargers, instead Apple’s MagSafe.
But it also means the device would need to rely on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for data transfer, which is a problem for things like recovering broken phones, developing software or testing device functions, at least without a separate service port.
So, with two years to go until the EU deadline, Apple has options. It could expedite a USB-C iPhone and take credit for the broader compatibility it brings, take its time with Lightning and aim for a gradual changeover, or hold out for as long as possible until it finds a way to avoid cables entirely and deliver a truly wireless iPhone.
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