MEPs vote for universal charging cable for mobiles

USB-C connector next to Apple Lightning connector

Image caption

Some Apple devices use USB-C (left) while the iPhone uses Lightning (right)

Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of introducing a single universal charging method for mobile phones, which Apple had argued against.

The resolution passed with 582 votes in favour to 40 against. MEPs will now urge the European Commission (EC) to adopt the new rules.

Android phones have a USB-C charger while iPhones used a Lightning cable.

Apple has said that a common standard would stifle innovation and create e-waste.

European politicians have been campaigning for a common standard for the past decade, with the EC estimating that obsolete cables generate more than 51,000 tonnes of waste per year.

In 2009 there were more than 30 different chargers on the market, compared to three currently.

Apple responded: “Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.

“More than one billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers.

“We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide.”

Ben Wood, an analyst with research firm CCS Insight, said: “This move will be greeted with dismay by Apple, which has made it clear that its preference is to stick with its own proprietary Lightning connector rather than switch to USB-C.

“Given the current trend towards sustainability and a reduction in e-waste, this seems like a sensible move. However, the EU needs to careful not to stifle innovation by mandating a certain technology indefinitely.”