Following a move by the European Union to force all smartphones and small electronics to use USB-C for charging instead of proprietary methods like Lightning, US lawmakers are urging the Department of Commerce to adopt a similar strategy.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out that the agency “coordinated with offices and agencies across the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that would include both will protect consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common US charging standard.”
The move is clearly aimed at Apple and the iPhone. While the letter mentions smartphones, tablets, portable speakers and e-readers, by far the largest device is the iPhone, which uses its own Lightning cable over USB-C. The senators point out that the average consumer owns about three cell phone chargers, with 40 percent of consumers reporting that they have been unable to charge their cell phone at least once due to a lack of compatible chargers.
That’s why they want to establish “uniform standards for charging accessories” that, if introduced, would force the iPhone to switch to USB-C. Apple already uses USB-C on most of its other devices, including the Mac and iPad, and there are rumors that even the entry-level iPad will switch to USB-C this fall. That leaves the iPhone and a handful of accessories that still use Lightning.
The senators say the policy “has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help consumers tired of rummaging through junk drawers full of confused chargers to find a compatible charger or buy a new one.”
However, by the time it makes its way through the legislature, it could be a moot point as the EU is expected to enact its own USB-C rules later this year.