When the iPhone 15 is unveiled later today it will no doubt come with an array of flashy tweaks and upgrades. It may be slightly lighter, the camera might be better, and it could even have a slightly better battery life. But the really big change will be something mundane: its charging port.
The European Union has forced Apple to adopt the same USB-C charger that is standard on Android and many other devices. New EU rules require all phones sold after autumn 2024 to use this connector for their charging ports. As a result, Apple has reluctantly decided to bin its lightning charger after 11 years and make the USB-C charging port standard around the world. But hold on. Does the EU really know how smartphones should be designed?
To its enthusiasts, it will no doubt be presented as a great victory for the consumer, and as a triumph over the power of Big Tech. Indeed, some Apple fans are happy: as one told the Daily Mail, ‘now everything in my house can use the same charger’.
Even better for some, Apple bowing to the might of the EU serves as a demonstration of Brussels’ power as a global regulator. It reinforces the EU’s ability to impose its rules on the rest of the world. Apple will now have to redesign its chargers so that they are compatible with other devices. Consumers won’t be forced to pay Apple’s rip-off prices when they lose their old charger or need a new one in a hurry. And they can always just borrow one from a friend with a different type of phone.
In the short term, that will make life slightly easier.