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EU wants to obligate electronics manufacturers to use USB Type-C in smaller devices, including Apple

The Radio Equipment Directive seeks to require USB Type-C ports across all small electronic devices. (Image source: EU Commission)
The Radio Equipment Directive seeks to require USB Type-C ports across all small electronic devices. (Image source: EU Commission)
The European Union has been working for years to create a single standard port for all small electronic devices. Now, the European Commission has proposed the Radio Equipment Directive, which would force all companies to include USB Type-C ports in smartphones, tablets, headphones, portable speakers, digital cameras and handheld games consoles. All devices must support at least 25 W charging too, but with no charger in the box.

The EU Commission is taking aim at electronics manufacturers by proposing that 'mobile phones and other similar electronic devices' all have a common charger. Over the past three decades, the volume of common charger cables has reduced from roughly thirty to three: Lightning, Micro USB and USB Type-C. The Commission believes that this is not enough though, and wants small electronic devices to only USB Type-C.

The Commission stresses that it had not designed its proposals to punish a particular company. Nonetheless, Apple has already responded, with a spokesperson stating:

We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.

In response, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, claims:

I have known these companies for years. Every time we put (forward) a proposal, they start to say 'oh, it will be against innovation'. No, it's not against innovation, it's not against anyone. Like everything the Commission does, it's for consumers.

(Image source: EU Commission)

The Commission hopes to implement these changes via the Radio Equipment Directive, which covers smartphones, tablets, headphones, portable speakers, digital cameras and handheld games consoles. In truth, most of these device categories rely on USB Type-C ports, excluding iPhones and some cheaper devices.

The proposals also include requiring devices to support at least 25 W fast charging, a level that many devices have yet to reach. The Commission hopes to prevent manufacturers from bundling chargers with their devices too, which is something that Apple, Samsung, Google and Xiaomi have started doing, supposedly to reduce electronic waste.

The Directive must be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council before Member States adopt comparable legislation. Hence, it could be a few years before any of these proposals affect companies and consumers. Arguably, Apple is already moving towards USB Type-C ports, most recently with the latest iPad mini, and may take a portless approach with future iPhones. It seems that the latter would fall outside of the Radio Equipment Directive's scope.

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(Image source: EU Commission)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 09 > EU wants to obligate electronics manufacturers to use USB Type-C in smaller devices, including Apple
Alex Alderson, 2021-09-23 (Update: 2021-09-23)