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What the EU’s USB-C mandate means for Apple — and for users

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The European Union (EU) this week announced it will require makers of most consumer electronic devices adopt the USB Type-C charging standard by fall 2024.

The unprecedented mandate is widely expected to affect Apple, whose products — including the popular iPhone series — use the company’s proprietary Lightning connector protocol. The move means iPhones and AirPods sold in the EU will be required to switch to the more ubiquitous USB-C ports and cable connectors.

The regulation also requires that devices be clearly labeled to identify their charging and data transfer capacities and addresses the “inconvenience faced by the consumers that are not capable of charging their device because there is no compatible charger at their disposal.

“Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device,” the European Parliament said in a statement.

USB-C iPhone

The ability for a consumer to buy a device with or without a cable could save users money in the short run, but it could also give Apple the same choice: to not ship chargers and cables with its devices, according to Ryan Reith, vice president of Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at research firm IDC

It also doesn’t mean Apple will migrate all of its devices over to USB-C worldwide, though some analysts and industry watchers believe Apple is preparing to do just that.

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