One of the many ways Apple makes billions is by offering only proprietary software and hardware. It's not just the obvious products like macOS or iPhones. Anything Apple can claim, like the shape of a tablet, so it can charge you more, it will. So an official Apple 1-meter USB-C to Lightning cable will set you back $19, while the best USB-C cable PC World found in a recent roundup costs $13.

For Apple, it's all about the money. But the European Union (EU) has apparently had enough.

The 27-nation European Commission has decided that its citizens deserve a common charging cable standard for their smartphones and all other devices. (The Commission has been working on this issue since 2019.) She argues, and I agree, that it is a waste of money and resources to have many inconsistent pricing standards.

And, I might add, it's seriously boring. When I travel, I have to pack USB-C, mini-USB, micro-USB, USB-A, Lightning, and a Qi charger for all my devices. Inevitably, I waste time trying to install the wrong cable in the wrong port, and that's before the USB-A fandango starts dancing, where to?

Under the new law, which is now expected to take effect in the fall of 2024, "mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, earphones and headphones, portable video game consoles and portable speakers that can be charged via of a wired cable must be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of its manufacturer.

If you refiere a ti, Apple.

All the others have moved to USB-C. You're not that special and neither are Lightning cables.

In fact, USB-C cables and the USB-C standard are better than Lightning in almost every way. First, there is the obvious. Lightning only works with Apple devices. USB-C works with almost all modern devices in the world. Oh, and by the way, Apple can support USB-C just fine. It's been used in third-gen iPad Pro models since 2018. Of course, Apple will also sell you a Lightning to USB-C cable. How accommodating.

USB-C can also support data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. Lightning maxes out when talking to USB devices at 480 Mbps. That's a very small difference.

As for power, USB-C also wipes the floor with Lightning. USB-C supports 3 to 5 amps with its Power Delivery fast-charging standard, making it much faster than standard Lightning cables. Lightning only supports up to 2,4 amps. That's why Apple offers a USB-C to Lightning cable with most products. When used with a 20-watt or higher power adapter, USB-C allows Apple users to quickly charge iPhones.

If that sounds a bit weird, have you actually looked at Apple's charging situation? To power my relatively small collection of Mac and Apple devices, I need Lightning, USB-C, and MagSafe cables. Oh, and a proprietary Apple Watch charger.

It's too much !

It could be just me, but I think standardization could be a good thing for Apple customers and European users.

So far, Apple has not said anything about this new law. However, in the past, the Cupertino team has claimed that dropping Lightning would create "an unprecedented amount of e-waste." I'm sure they will sing a similar song this time.

But we already waste a lot of chargers in landfills every year. Well, except me. I have a closet full of damn things! Now, if we could get everyone to use one standard for all chargers, wouldn't that save that in the long run? Why yes, I think I would.

Perhaps the European Commission should address this particular hardware issue next.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Share This