EU implements new USB-C standard for chargers, putting pressure on Apple

All new smartphones sold in the European Union (EU), including iPhones, will need to feature USB-C chargers from 2024 due to a landmark deal that has just been agreed.

Apple has long used proprietary charging methods for its phones but the agreement between the EU, Parliament and Council negotiators will necessitate a switch to the new standard or a shift to completely wireless charging.

The new rules don't apply just to Apple, of course. By spring 2024, New Zealand time, all mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, handheld video game consoles and cameras sold in Europe will require USB-C charging.

Laptops will also be required to comply - which could impact Apple's ongoing move away from USB-C back to its own MagSafe chargers - but only 40 months after the law comes into force.

According to the UE, the new law is part of an effort to make products "more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste, and make consumers' lives easier".

Parliament's rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said consumers had been long frustrated with multiple chargers piling up with every new device.

"Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics. We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers," Saliba said.

"We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers".

The charging speed is also harmonised for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger, the EU said.

From 2024, consumers will be given "clear information" about how the new device charges, making it easier to decide whether their existing chargers are compatible.

"Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device," the EU said.

The law will save consumers up to 250 million euro (NZ$412 million) that is currently spent on unnecessary chargers, it's been claimed.

It is also believed it will substantially reduce e-waste, with estimates of around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste created by disposed of and unused chargers in the EU.

Many Android phones, including those of the top manufacturers like Samsung and Oppo, are charged via USB-C, as does Apple's iPad Pro range.