The European Union has set a December 27, 2024 deadline for device makers to switch to USB-C for their data and charging ports, meaning Apple will have to ditch the iPhone Lightning connector sooner.
Although the EU decision has already been made, the new development here is the date (via Get involved (opens in a new tab)). This means Apple can get away with keeping Lightning for the 2024 iPhone 16, but the 2025 iPhone 17 will have to include USB-C.
There is a loophole where Apple could make the iPhone 17 completely portless, so it will rely on Wi-Fi for data and wireless charging to get the battery out. Devices that only charge wirelessly are exempt from the new EU rules.
The clock is ticking
We’ve already heard rumors that Apple is thinking of switching the iPhone 15 to USB-C for its port – or at least the Pro models of the phone. However, it’s safe to say that we’ve heard the same rumor about several more iPhones at this point.
For laptop manufacturers, the EU deadline has been extended to April 2026. In addition, hardware manufacturers will need to ensure that the same charging speed is available regardless of the charger used to improve compatibility.
This, of course, only applies to the EU, but it is not profitable for companies such as Apple to make one series of their products with USB-C and one without. Now the only question left is how long will we have to wait for a USB-C iPhone.
Analysis: the road to USB-C
The road to iPhone adoption of USB-C has been a long one. It’s something we’ve been asking for since the iPhone 12 in 2020, and rumors of Apple changing its flagship phones have been circulating for about that long.
Apple is obviously familiar with this technology: it already uses the standard in its MacBook ports and iPad devices. Even the entry-level iPad switched to USB-C earlier this year, so only iPhones still use the Lightning standard.
The change really makes sense for Apple – there’s no reason to stick to your own standard at this point. Apple directors have publicly admitted that they will have to comply with any directives set by the EU.
We’d be surprised if Apple waited until the iPhone 17 to introduce USB-C, but the iPhone 15 may be a bit early. It’s all speculation, but perhaps the iPhone 16 – estimated to arrive in September 2024 – will be the first to include USB-C.