Technology

Europe wants to impose USB-C to charge electronic devices

The European Commission has had enough of proprietary chargers like Lightning and micro USB. Therefore, you want to impose the USB-C port for charging phones, tablets, headphones and other electronic devices. While the proposed bill affects only Europe, it could have consequences on this side of the Atlantic.

You probably have a drawer at home full of chargers and cables of all kinds. However, when it comes time to connect a new device, it still happens that none are supported. Result: you have to buy another charger and an umpteenth cable, which will also end up, one day, in the drawer.

This is the kind of situation the European Commission wants to address, with the presentation on September 23 of a bill to regulate the charging of electronic devices in Europe, where discarded or unused chargers represent around 11,000 tonnes of waste. electronics per year, and costs European Citizens 2.4 billion euros (3.5 billion Canadian dollars).

A port for everyone

The main objective of the bill is to force the inclusion of a USB-C port in electronic devices. This slim, reversible port, which can be found on most Android phones in particular, can transfer data and power-hungry devices, making it a good candidate for a universal port.

The project also wants to harmonize fast charging technologies, so that the speed is the same regardless of the charger used, and to decouple the sale of a charger from the sale of electronic devices. A measure that would reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost 1,000 tons a year. It also aims to better inform consumers about the performance of the devices in terms of charging.

The law affects smartphones, but also tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and portable video game consoles.

Limited impact

However, the impact of the law will be less today than it was 10 years ago. Since then, the industry has converged on the USB-C port, which is found in the vast majority of new products.

There is one big exception to the rule: the iPhone, which still has a Lightning port, Apple’s proprietary technology. The American giant has also opposed European law, claiming that the change would generate a huge amount of electronic waste (current Lightning cables that would no longer be useful).

Laptops are also often equipped with proprietary charging ports. This is particularly the case with Microsoft’s Surface. But these are not covered by European legislation.

The law also does not affect devices that can only be recharged wirelessly. A rumor has been circulating for several years that Apple would prepare, for example, an iPhone without a port. The European Commission would not mandate the addition of a USB-C port to such a model.

Under the bill, manufacturers will have a 24-month transition period from the date of its adoption to adapt. Since adoption is likely in 2022, we will have to wait until 2024 to see the effects. The law will only affect Europe, but since electronic devices are generally designed for everyone, changes should be felt here as well.

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