Apple confirms it’s being forced to bring USB-C to the iPhone

In an interview with WSJ, Greg Joswiak admitted that the EU's new regulations mean the iPhone will need to switch to USB-C.

Joanna Stern at the Wall Street Journal hosted a Tech Live conference yesterday with Apple’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak, and software VP Craig Federighi. She posed a question regarding the EU’s recent approval of legislation that will force tech companies to include USB-C ports on future devices, asking whether Apple would be making the switch from Lightning on the iPhone. Joswiak’s reply? “Obviously, we’ll have to comply. We have no choice.”

This legislation is very obviously not in Apple’s interests. When it was first introduced earlier this year, the company famously denounced it, saying that it will stifle innovation if it were signed into law. But the EU simply didn’t care, and in September 2024, any company that ships a mobile device will need to include USB-C.

Joswiak further fleshed out Apple’s stance on the subject, mentioning previous government-backed efforts like hearing aid features on smartphones and standardized microUSB ports as examples where the company pushed back on poorly-executed policy. “If we had standardized microUSB, that chart [showing Lightning and USB-C cables] doesn’t exist, right? Neither of those happen.”

Joswiak moves on to mention how the introduction of removable power bricks from charging cables solve the standardization issue when it comes to recharging your mobile devices, since most (if not all) are either USB-A or USB-C. He also argues that a switch from Lightning to USB-C would create a ton of e-waste.

In the end, though, he admits that Apple will need to comply with the regulation. “We think the approach would’ve been better environmentally and better for our customers to not have a government be that prescriptive.”

Stern asked when the shift from Lightning to USB-C would take place, to which Joswiak responded, “the Europeans are the ones dictating timing for European customers.” Because the rule goes in effect in September of 2024, there’s a chance Apple sneaks in a Lightning-equipped iPhone 16 beforehand, making the iPhone 17 in 2025 the first to require a USB-C port. Joswiak’s quote also makes it sound like there’s a chance only those in Europe will get USB-C iPhones, but that’s highly unlikely given how big of a change that would be.

There’s been a lot of talk about Apple eventually shipping an iPhone that’s completely port-less, relying solely on wireless charging via MagSafe. Those rumors are still floating around, and I’m sure it’s on Apple’s roadmap for some time in the future. During Tech Live, the idea of a port-less iPhone was never brought up, so it looks like Apple will move to USB-C before eventually getting rid of ports altogether.

You can check out the clip here.

My takeaway

I’m not a fan of the regulation introduced by the EU, but I understand where they’re coming from. Being a tech reviewer, it definitely sucks that I have to carry around two types of cables to charge my devices. The dream is to only have to carry USB-C, and that’ll eventually come to fruition.

It’s still a double-edge sword, though. While you might be able to carry around a single cable that charges all of your devices, Apple could simply make the USB-C port as useful as Lightning is now. That could mean capping charging speeds at 27W like they are now, limiting accessory compatibility, and not offering anything exceptionally interesting like external display support. I’m simply speculating here, but that all seems plausible given Apple’s reputation for waiting a long time to flesh out hardware features.

Right now, everything’s up in the air as to what Apple will wind up doing once it’s forced to ship iPhones with USB-C. Let’s just hope all the hype isn’t for nothing.