The reasons for Apple’s charger change are very important

(CNN) — Apple brought back its Lightning charger this Tuesday, exactly 11 years since it was first announced.

This marks a milestone for the company to finally adopt the universal charging system, USB-C. This is significant not only because Apple has resisted doing so for years, but also because it would make it much easier for its customers to charge its devices.

But, as with most things, there’s a problem: Moving to a global standard means Apple is giving up control of its wired charging ecosystem, and it’s not clear to us how to identify the good chargers from the bad. Many consumers.

What changes?

At its iPhone 15 launch event, the company announced that all its next-generation smartphones will be launched with USB-C charging, as with its latest version, the AirPods Pro, Apple had already switched its iPads and MacBooks to USB-C charging. , has so far resisted change on the iPhone.

The change comes less than a year after the European Union (EU) passed legislation requiring all smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, portable speakers and other small devices to support USB-C charging by 2024. This is the first law of its kind and aims to reduce the number of chargers and cables consumers have to deal with when buying a new device, and allows users to mix and match devices and chargers, even if they are made by different manufacturers.

The new iPhone 15 is shown during an Apple event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on September 12, 2023 in Cupertino, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Now that Apple customers can use the same USB-C chargers to power their iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, there’s no need to struggle to find the right charger for each device. It can be used to connect a low-battery iPhone to a fully charged iPad, or to connect devices between different brands.

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“This may be the biggest design change for an iPhone in years, but it’s not really a dramatic change,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight.

Last year, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, Greg Joswiak, touted the value and ubiquity of the Lightning charger, which is designed to charge devices faster, but noted the EU mandate that “we obviously have to comply with.”

“As with the rest of the world, we have no choice but to comply with local laws, but we believe this approach would have been better for our customers if the government had not been in the way,” Joswiak said. Time.

On September 12, 2023, the new Apple iPhone 15 Pro with a USB-C charger ordered in the EU was shown along with other new products during the launch event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. (Nic Coury/AFP/Getty Images)

The EU’s decision is part of an effort to tackle the e-waste problem in general, but more waste could result in the short term if people start throwing away their lightning cables. While Apple expressed environmental concerns about what was happening to older Lightning chargers, there were also financial reasons to reject the change.

History of Lightning Charger

Apple introduced the Lightning Charger with the iPhone 5 in 2012, replacing its current 30-pin dock connector with a reversible design that allows for faster charging. He also launched a related accessories business that requires users to purchase a $30 Lightning adapter to connect the device to old docks, alarm clocks and speaker systems.

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“For Apple, it’s about being in control of its own ecosystem. Apple makes a lot of money selling Lightning cables and a lot of related accessories,” said David McQueen, director of API Research.

It takes a financial cut from third-party accessories and cables that go through its Made for iPhone program. “Moving to USB Type C will remove this level of restriction because USB-C is a more open ecosystem,” McQueen said.

Apple is now selling a new USB-C to Lightning adapter for $29 so people can connect their existing Lightning accessories to a USB-C enabled iPhone or iPad for charging or data sharing. Similarly, in 2012 Apple introduced a $29 dongle to connect the iPhone 5 (its first phone with a Lightning charger) to older docks, clock radios and speaker systems.

What does this mean for iPhone users?

A person looks at the new Apple iPhone 15 Pro during an Apple event in Cupertino, California on September 12, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The move to USB-C won’t be an incentive for people to upgrade, but it could sway some consumers who resisted the iPhone because of its charging limitations, says Thomas Husson, vice president of Forrester Research.

Considering that many mobile devices already use USB-C, including Apple iPads and MacBooks, accessing charging cables shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive.

But imitations abound, and some USB-C chargers are more secure than others. Some may provide too much power, others not enough. Some can control power and data flow on your phone, some can’t. CNN Underscore’s top recommendations for USB-C chargers include big brands including Anker, Belkin, Apple, Amazon, and Google.

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“Given the widespread use of USB-C in other devices, it’s hard to imagine that consumers will be surprised by this change, and in the long run, it will benefit them as a universal charging system has more obvious advantages.” Wood said.

Apple also claimed that the dedicated USB-C controller will enable transfer speeds 20 times faster than USB-2 technology for the iPhone 15 Pro.

Lightning cable recalls will, in the short term, lead to a wave of electronic waste as iPhone users toss their useless Lightning cables in drawers. But Apple told CNN that it has a “robust” recycling program where used chargers and cables can be brought in. You can also find a local e-waste recycling center or Best Buy store for eco-friendly options.

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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