It finally happened: the EU passed a law requiring all new smartphones to have a USB-C port starting in 2024.
The law, which according to a Press release (opens in new tab) will go into effect “at the end of 2024”, it also applies to tablets and cameras, but the biggest impact will be on smartphones, mainly affecting iPhones, as they are the only conventional device that still does not use USB-C.
Currently, Apple still uses its increasingly dated proprietary Lightning port for its phones – even brand new models like the iPhone 14 Pro – but this law means that, at least in the EU, the company will have to offer USB-C within a few years. .
In practice, this means that Apple will likely make the switch to the iPhone 16 at the latest – although the company may hold out until the iPhone 17, as the press release states that “the new rules would not apply to products placed on the market.” market before the application date [of the rules].”
That said, it’s entirely possible that Apple will make the switch even sooner and switch with the iPhone 15, especially since there are already rumors that the iPhone 15 lineup might use USB-C. Plus, Apple has already switched to USB-C for iPads, so it always seemed like a matter of time before their phones did the same.
Analysis: a little wiggle room
While the simplest – and most likely – solution for Apple is to replace Lightning ports with USB-C in future iPhones around the world, there are alternatives.
For one, this law only applies to the EU, so Apple may choose to only sell USB-C iPhones in the EU, with other regions joining Lightning. But that would mean making two significantly different versions of each of their phones, which feels more cumbersome – and likely costs – than it’s worth.
It already does this to a lesser extent, with the current iPhone 14 series, which in the US completely renounces the physical SIM card slot, relying exclusively on eSIM technology, while the SIM tray remains on units sold in other markets internationally.
Apple could technically also keep the Lightning port as long as there’s also a USB-C port, but that seems spectacularly unlikely; they are not intended to directly compete with the best gaming phones, some of which have dual ports, for portrait and landscape charging.
Finally, Apple could ditch ports altogether and turn to wireless charging and data transfer exclusively on future phones. There have been rumors of a portless iPhone for some time now, but we suspect that if one does come, it will be further than 2024.