The European Commission today announced a proposal that would put in place requirements for smartphone manufacturers. Among the requirements is that phones start using USB-C in the EU, regardless of who makes the device, and also that manufacturers stop including a charger with the device.

The biggest impact of this EU proposal would be to Apple, as the company is using its proprietary Lightning connector on iPhones rather than the USB-C standard that has been widely adopted on Android smartphones, tablets, and accessories as well as many laptops. If the proposal were implemented, Apple would be required to adopt USB-C for the iPhone’s wired needs.

Another major impact of this EU proposal would be that phone makers would be required to ship their devices without a charger in the box. This trend has already started on some devices including Samsung’s latest flagships and Google’s upcoming Pixel 6 lineup.

The Commission cites environmental concerns as the reason, saying that the move would reduce the production and disposal of new chargers.

Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes yearly.

Perhaps an even bigger improvement for the Android market could be the “harmonizing” of fast-charging standards. The Commission aims to stop phone makers from limiting charging speeds when using other fast-charging standards. This is less common in today’s market, as most Android devices will accept USB-PD, even if they offer a proprietary fast-charging method that may offer even faster speeds.

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Ben Schoon

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