Apple now has a deadline for switching the iPhone over to USB-C

iPhone 14 Pro Lightning port
The iPhone 14 series could be the last with a Lightning port (Image credit: Future)

The European Union has set a deadline of December 27, 2024 for device manufacturers to switch to USB-C for their data and charging ports, which means that Apple is going to have to abandon the iPhone Lightning connector at some point before then.

While the EU's decision had already been made, the new development here is the date (via Engadget). It means Apple could get away with retaining Lightning for the 2024 iPhone 16, but the 2025 iPhone 17 will have to include USB-C.

There is a loophole, which is that Apple could make the iPhone 17 completely portless, so it would rely on Wi-Fi for data transfer and wireless charging to juice up the battery. Devices that only charge wirelessly are exempt from the EU's new rules.

The clock is ticking

We have already heard rumors that Apple is thinking of switching the iPhone 15 over to USB-C for its port – or at least the Pro models of the phone. However, it's fair to say that we've heard the same rumor for several successive iPhones at this point.

For laptop makers, the EU's deadline is extended until April 2026. In addition, hardware companies will have to make sure that the same charging speed is available no matter what charger is used, to improve compatibility.

This only applies to the EU of course, but it's not going to be worthwhile for companies like Apple to make one run of its products with USB-C and one without. It's now just a question of how long we'll have to wait to see a USB-C iPhone.

Analysis: the road to USB-C

It's been a long road to the iPhone adopting USB-C. It's something we've been requesting since the iPhone 12 in 2020, and rumors about Apple making the switch on its flagship handsets have been swirling for about as long as that as well.

Apple is of course familiar with the technology: it already uses the standard in its MacBook ports and on its iPad devices. Even the entry-level iPad made the switch to USB-C earlier this year, so it's only the iPhones that are still using the Lightning standard.

It makes sense for Apple to switch really – at this point there's not much of a reason to stick with its proprietary standard. Apple executives have publicly admitted that they're going to have to comply with whatever directive the EU sets down.

We'd be surprised if Apple waits until the iPhone 17 to introduce USB-C, but the iPhone 15 might just be a little too early. This is all speculation, but perhaps the iPhone 16 – estimated time of arrival, September 2024 – will be the first to carry USB-C.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.