The European Union has voted to make companies use a single charger design for portable games consoles, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other computing peripherals by 2024. The change went through with a majority, with 602 votes in favour and only 13 against it.
Android, Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck all already use some form of USB-C cable as their primary means of charging, as do the latest Xbox and PlayStation controllers. Apple has been using their own proprietary “Lightning Cable” on iPhones since 2012, which will now have to change if they want to keep selling them in EU member countries.
Despite being a European Union ruling, it is still likely that this rule will also affect devices in non-EU regions, if only to simplify manufacturing processes at factories and save on costs. Industry analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight has gone as far as to say that the vote would make it “inevitable”.
“This is a victory for common sense. Although Apple has a huge install base of lightning cable-powered devices, the ubiquity of USB-C across all consumer electronics products means that harmonising on USB-C makes perfect sense.”
“Irrespective of whether the UK government mandates the move to USB-C or not, UK consumers will get the technology by default. It will make no sense for consumer electronics manufacturers to offer devices with anything else.” said Wood.
It has also yet to be seen (or clarified) as to whether the new USB-C cables have to meet particular requirements or specifications to qualify as following the ruling. If so, Nintendo may still have to redesign the Nintendo Switch under the new rules, which is notably non-USB-C PD compliant and can have “bricking” issues if used with third-party cables and docks that provide higher voltages.