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Apple forced to change charging ports under new EU rule that lawmakers claim will save millions for consumers

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple and other smartphone makers will soon be required to use USB-C charging ports under a new common charging standard for electronic devices announced by European Union officials on Tuesday.

The new law, called the amended Radio Equipment Directive, establishes a "single charging solution" for mobile devices and was reportedly passed as part of a broader effort to reduce electronic waste and make consumers' lives easier.

"Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one single charger for all of their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices," the European Parliament explained in a press release.

According to the E.U. press officer Yasmina Yakimova, the new rule will affect "mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld video game consoles, and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable" — and eventually, laptops, too.

By as early as the fall of 2024, manufacturers of such devices will be required to equip their new products with a USB-C port. Laptops will have until 40 months after the law takes effect. Older products that do not currently support the charging port will not need to be adapted.

The E.U. estimates that the landmark new rule will save consumers as much as 250 million euros ($267 million) a year on unnecessary charging purchases and will get rid of approximately 11,000 tons of annual product waste. Just as well, the governing body hopes the changes will propel new technologies, such as wireless charging.

But the changes will not be celebrated by everyone. Apple, in particular, fought the rule during the legislative process, arguing that it would effectively render obsolete as many as one billion devices and accessories that currently support the company's Lightning connector, CNN Business reported.

The iPhone and MacBook maker has also argued that it will hurt innovation in the tech space.

"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," the company said last September, according to CNBC. "We look forward to continued engagement with stakeholders to help find a solution that protects consumer interest, as well as the industry’s ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to users."

Apple has not yet responded publicly to the rule's passage.

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