U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Commerce Department to implement a similar policy following the European Union’s decision to mandate all smartphones and small electrical devices to utilize USB-C charging instead of proprietary methods such as Lightning.
Senate Democrats Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders wrote to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo requesting that the agency “coordinate with offices and agencies across the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that will protect both consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common U.S. charging standard,” in order to “protect both consumers and the environment.”
Apple and the iPhone are clearly the targets of this move. While the letter mentions smartphones, tablets, portable speakers, and e-readers, the iPhone, which utilizes a proprietary Lightning connector over USB-C, is by far the most popular. They note that the average customer owns three mobile phone chargers, and 40 percent of consumers indicate that they have been unable to charge their mobile phone at least once due to a lack of appropriate chargers.
Because of this, they want to establish “universal charging accessory standards” that, if approved, would force the iPhone to use USB-C. Most of Apple’s other products, including the Mac and the iPad, already have USB-C ports, and there is speculation that even the entry-level iPad may transition to USB-C in the fall. Everything but the iPhone and a small number of accessories are still using Lightning connectors.
The senators believe that the regulation “has the potential to greatly reduce e-waste and to benefit consumers who are tired of having to hunt through junk drawers full of tangled chargers in order to find a compatible one, or buy a new one.”
However, by the time it works its way through the legislative bodies, it may be irrelevant because the EU is anticipated to implement its own USB-C guidelines by the end of this year.