It was a numantine resistance and has met an unexpected ending for many. Apple has finally twisted its arm in front of the European directive that requires the sale of a single charger standard in the countries of the Union: USB-C. The initiative makes sense on paper, because the aim is to avoid using different charging cables in the household depending on the device and thus reduce the amount of electronic waste. However, as we shall see, there are nuances that must be taken into account.
In this way, and save for last-minute surprises, in the homes of all citizens of the European Union there will be a single charging cable for all devices, initially for mobile phones (phones and tablets), and a little later the requirement will be extended to laptops. The EU body has solid arguments to defend this decision: 420 million mobile phones were sold in the EU in 2020 alone and on average there are three chargers in each household, of which only two are used.
Both the production and the subsequent disposal of these cables – especially the leftovers – pay a double toll, on the one hand by making the product more expensive, but above all by significantly increasing the ecological footprint of mobile devices. But the calculation is not that simple, at least that’s what people think from Cupertino. For what reason?
Why Apple resisted to the last
It was Greg Joswiak, Apple’s marketing director, who solved the problem in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “Of course we will comply with the regulations, we have no choice” were his statements on whether the iPhone It would finally have a USB-C connector, which Europe has chosen as the mandatory standard on its territory. However, this manager has explained the reasons for his reluctance: There is a base of millions of iPhone users in the old continent, and this regulation will force all those users to ditch their Lightning cables (the default connector on iPhones). “That will generate waste,” he concludes.
The truth is that the company founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Worniak has already de facto migrated its ports to USB-C on the new generation iPad and MacBook laptops, but this does not imply a better connection beyond standardization. “USB-C is a type of connection,” explains Julio César Fernández, academic director of the Apple Coding Academy, “while Lightning is a standard that allows transfer speeds of up to 480 Mbps (like USB 2.0) and charges of up to 480 Mbps/ s provides for up to 12 W of power”.
This expert’s mention of charging and connection speeds is no coincidence: “The big problem with USB-C is that you’re buying a cable, but that doesn’t mean it offers fast charging and transfer speeds,” he says. One of the big problems with a non-company certified standard is that it can offer much lower than expected performance and this is where the problems can start. For Fernández, the USB-C connector is “a mixed bag that fits everything, and on mobile phones, if someone buys a USB-C cable to copy things and it’s slow, they blame Apple”.
However, this expert adds that in addition to potential performance issues of unapproved cables, Apple’s resistance could also stem from an economic issue: “Any Lightning cable must pay a sales license (if certified)”. In this sense, the Cupertino giant homologates the quality of third-party accessories under the MFI program, which requires compliance with a series of specifications that guarantee product quality and performance, but which Apple charges.
Standardization “is great news” for the user
With this and from a technical point of view and for iPhone owners, the regulations offer more disadvantages than advantages, since a plug that works under certain standards must be replaced with another that, depending on the product, can offer lower performance . However, the evidence shouldn’t be denied: it’s better to go on a trip with a single cable and charger than having to take several with you.
“This is great news,” says Fran Besora, founder of the popular Twitter community apple, in Spanish, referring to the moves that Apple is gradually making towards the USB-C port (both iPads and MacBooks are equipped with it). “It’s easier for users to only have one cable than to carry two with them.” Besora is concerned that the measure is being taken on a mandatory basis and because of a regulation: “It may be that Apple, in order to comply with the regulations, uses a USB-C connector with the speeds of Lightning”, in which case the speeds of this standard are not used.
The strange thing about this measure is that Apple has finally adopted it when its strategic commitment could be to eliminate the ports and trust its all connectivity wireless. Americans already have the MagSafe standard, and we already know that their pulse doesn’t tremble when it comes to radical measures like getting rid of the headphone jack. By the way, this decision was followed by the main competitors.
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