The European Union’s (EU) mandate that manufacturers of most mobile devices use USB-C by the fall of 2024 has fueled speculation that Apple may simply switch completely wirelessly to future models of its iPhones and AirPods.

While the directive of Committee of the European Parliament applies to all mobile electronics manufacturers, an unprecedented requirement is expected to directly affect Apple, whose products – including the popular iPhone – use the company’s own Lightning connector protocol.

The mandate is clear: “Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headsets, digital cameras, headphones and earphones, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers that are recharged via cable will need to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless from their manufacturer. “

This move means that iPhones and AirPods sold in the EU will have to move to the more ubiquitous USB-C ports and cable connectors by the fall of 2024. The mandate leaves Apple with several options, including switching to all wireless.

Wirelessly charge iPhone 8 with RavPower IDG / Ken Mingis

iPhone 8 is charged on a wireless charger from RavPower, which is capable of transmitting up to 7.5 W of power.

Forrester senior analyst Andrew Cornwall said the EU’s move leaves at least three paths for Apple.

  • Apple can provide a USB-C charging port separately from the Lightning charging and data port on the iPhone and iPad. This is probably the least aesthetic of the options and Apple is unlikely to choose a solution with two connectors for this reason.
  • Apple may develop a hybrid port that accepts either USB-C (for charging only) or Lightning (for charging and data). Although it is possible that Apple will develop a hybrid port, it is unlikely that it will want to build a new connector.
  • Apple can discard the port together and move to a wireless connection using the Qi charging standard, the capability of which has been built into their 2017 iPhone.

“Apple’s nature is to completely eliminate the charging / Lightning port in favor of wireless charging, thus evading EU law,” Cornwall said. “As their wireless charger maintains an open standard, they will not face future delegated acts.

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