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iPhone users could be forced to change Apple charger again under new EU rule

Andrew Griffin
A man uses his mobile phone as he walks past advertising for the new iPhones outside the Apple store in Hong Kong on October 10, 2019: PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Apple could be forced to change its iPhone charger yet again.

Phone makers are being targeted by the European Parliament as it tries to ensure that all phones have the same ports and charging wires.

European politicians say that forcing companies to all adopt the same plugs would "reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ life easier".

Such a measure would force Apple to drop its Lighting cable, which it uses on the iPhone but is a proprietary port that is not available for use on phones made by other manufacturers.

European politicians have been pushing for increased compatibility between phone chargers for more than 10 years. Ten years ago, a memorandum of understanding was signed in which companies agreed they would work towards a common standard.

But MEPs said those solutions had failed and asked for "binding measures" that would force phone companies to use the same chargers.

"The Commission's approach of 'encouraging' industry to develop common chargers fell short of the co-legislators’ objectives," politicians said in a briefing. "The voluntary agreements between different industry players have not yielded the desired results."

Instead, they tasked the European Commission with pushing companies to adopt a common charger that would "fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices".

In practise, most companies have moved towards the relatively new USB-C standard, which is now used by many Android phones. That solves the issues that were present in previous attempts at a common standard, and has been adopted across the industry.

Even Apple now uses USB-C in its iPads and MacBooks. But it has kept the Lightning charger in its phones and related products like the AirPods Pro, ever since it was first released in 2012.

Some rumours have suggested that Apple could give up the charging port entirely, instead offering wireless charging.

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