What Europe’s Universal Charger Mandate Means for You

Most of us have multiple types of chargers to refill our devices. This is because many products, such as Apple phones and Microsoft Surface computers, are plugged in with wires using unique connectors.

Soon, that may be the case for a long time.

This month, the European Union issued an order requiring all new portable devices, such as smartphones, earbuds and wireless keyboards, to be used in a normal charger by 2024. After two years, the same rules will apply to new laptops.

Although the law will be enforced across Europe, it could affect consumers around the world. This is because it will be expensive for tech companies to make products with different charging technologies only for European countries.

The law, which regulators say will reduce e-waste, appears to be targeted at Apple, which uses iPhones, iPads and Macs charging technologies. Apple, which declined to comment, sent a letter to the European Commission in November protesting the order, arguing that it would block the introduction of new charging technologies. Terrence Zakka for the commission said the law could be quickly updated to ensure it is compatible with new technology.

In short, wherever you live, most of the devices you buy in the coming years will probably include a charging port called USB-C. The shift could be a frustrating transition for many, and perhaps most so for iPhone customers who have assembled wires and accessories using Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector since its introduction a decade ago. Once the command is implemented and people start buying new products without a Lightning connection, it will become impractical to use those products.

So it will help to prepare for this transition to avoid waste. Here’s what you can do.

First, let’s talk about USB-C. It is an oval connector that works with many modern Android phones and laptops. It’s not like Apple’s flat rectangular lightning connector or the giant USB rectangular connector, an older technology called USB-A.

European law requires all devices to use USB-C by 2026. So we will need to plan accordingly to include that connector in the products we use to recharge our devices, including power bricks and wires.

When buying a power brick that hooks up your computer or phone by wire, be sure to get one with an oval USB-C port. This will allow it to accept USB-C power cable, which will be plugged into your future phone or computer.

Many Android phones and computers already use USB-C power cables – so keep buying them if you need to. But let’s say you use an Apple phone, which uses a lightning connector. Even if your wired lightning charger for your iPhone breaks, it would still make sense to buy a replacement cable as that wire is relatively inexpensive. High-quality, third-party lightning cables cost as little as 15. The safest condition is to buy a lightning cable with a USB-C connector on the other end, to make sure it will be plugged into your next laptop or power brick.

Another option is to go wireless, says John Bumstad, owner of RDKL Incorporated, which sells refurbished Apple hardware. Most modern smartphones, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, work with a new wireless charging technology called magnetic induction, which uses an electric current to generate a magnetic field and generates a voltage that powers your device without wiring.

Wireless chargers come in many shapes and forms, including mats and docks. Since they don’t need to be plugged into the port on your phone, now is the time to consider wireless chargers.

An intricate conundrum worries about buying accessories like keyboards and mice, Mr. Bumstad said. Some of Apple’s new products, such as the $ 200 Magic Keyboard or its $ 150 Magic Trackpad, include the Lightning port.

It would be wise to wait a few years for future versions of those products. Bumstad said. This is because once the USB-C command is executed, it will be difficult to carry the USB-C cable for your phone and computer and the Lightning cable for your keyboard or mouse. A cable that charges everything would be more convenient to carry. That is the whole point of European law.

However, when everything uses the same type of connector in a few years, that doesn’t mean you have to delete your devices that use proprietary connections. One option to make them more convenient to use is to purchase an adapter, such as a dongle that allows the Lightning connector to accept a USB-C connection, Mr. Bumstad said. That way, if you only have one device that uses the Lightning connector, you can use the dongle to continue plugging that device in via the USB-C cable.

Dongles are an unpleasant solution, however, because they are small and easy to lose, so it is better not to buy accessories with proprietary attachments. Instead, opt for the one that comes with the USB-C port.

With some thought, this transition will not be so bad. USB-C is a solid technology that allows devices to be quickly refilled. And because many products already use the USB-C connector, most of us already own a lot of this cable, said Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, a standard organization working with companies including Apple, HP and Microsoft to develop USB. Said. Technology

“The train has already left the station,” said Shri. Ravencraft said. He added that USB-C was designed for extended life, meaning it should still be a useful technology in 2026, when the law will be fully implemented.

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