UK won't follow EU and demand all mobile phones have a common USB-C charger

iPhone 13
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The UK will not follow the EU’s lead and demand smartphone manufacturers – including Apple – include a common charging cable in their products.

Earlier this week, European lawmakers confirmed most types of consumer electronics would have to include a USB Type-C port, citing significant amounts of electronic waste caused by unused chargers and the inconvenience suffered by Android and iPhone users who need different cables for different devices.

The rules cover smartphones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, while laptops will have to be adapted within 40 months of the rules coming into force. Wireless charging is not covered but could be added at a later date.

Finally, a Brexit dividend?

The EU says its new regulations will benefit consumers, save them €250 million a year, and prevent 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste.

However, the UK government, perhaps desperate to emphasise the UK is free of alleged Brussels ‘red tape’ in a post-Brexit world, has said it is not “currently considering” following suit. Despite this stance, it is likely that British consumers will be affected.

Under the terms of the EU withdrawal agreement, the regulations would apply to Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, manufacturers will either have to adapt their designs or release special models for the European market in order to comply with the regulations. In either scenario, these devices could be stocked on British shelves.

Critics of the EU’s rules argue they will stifle innovation. Apple, which will be disproportionately impacted by the policy due to its proprietary Lightning interface. Apple has persistently opposed any mandate, arguing that it would lead to a huge amount of electronic waste as consumers dispose of their old Lightning chargers.


Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.