Apple to EU: Killing the lightning cable will harm consumers

The European Parliament has called for standardisation for mobile charging which pushes smartphone makers to adopt USB-C. Although Apple has progressively switched most of its products to USB-C ports, they are pushing back the suggestion by EU lawmakers.

According to a number of reports, Apple has said that regulation that forces conformity across the type of connectors built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it. The Cupertino company emphasised that this would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole, and they hope that the European Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate.

A study by the Copenhagen Economics that was commissioned by Apple has indicated that regulatory-mandated move to a single charger would cost at least EUR 1.5 billion, which outweighs the EUR 13 million value associated to environmental benefits.

Apple has suggested that EU regulators should focus on the other end of the cable where the cable connects to the power source. According to Apple, unifying those ports would be benefit users as they can plug their charging cables to similar ports regardless of what plug is used on their devices. Apple does not believe there’s a need for regulation as the industry is already moving towards USB-C through a connector or cable assembly.

At the moment, the common power source is the typical full-sized USB-A port but some industries including car manufacturers have started to offer USB-C ports instead. When it comes to quick charging, there are different standards such as USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) and Qualcomm QuickCharge as well as proprietary standards from Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. For Apple, they are adopting the USB Power Delivery standard for its MacBooks, iPad Pro and iPhone.

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The current lightning port was introduced in 2012 on the iPhone 5 and it replaces the old 30-pin connector that was used for the older iPods. When the iPhone X was introduced in 2017, Apple had introduced fast charging for the first time but it is only available when you use a USB-C to lightning cable that’s sold separately. Apart from charging, the lightning port is also used for a wide array of accessories which includes AV input/output, microphones, audio and storage.

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Alexander Wong