USB-C as EU standard from 2024: Everything you need to know about it

Now that’s for sure: as of 2024, only USB-C charging plugs and sockets can be used for many new tech devices within the European Union. So there is only one connector type for many devices. It looks good at first. But is this true? Let’s take a closer look:

When will there be standard USB-C plugs in the EU?

According to the European Parliament, the new regulation will apply to most portable small technical devices from “autumn 2024”, without specifying a specific date. Laptop manufacturers have 40 months to make a decision today, about a year longer (fall 2025).

What devices will USB-C become the standard?

As of fall 2024, USB-C will become the unifying standard for:

  • smart phone
  • Tablets
  • digital cameras
  • Headphones (also charging ports for wireless headphones and storage boxes for wireless headphones)
  • keyboard
  • mice
  • eBook Reader
  • Navigation devices
  • Portable Speakers
  • Portable Game Consoles

From fall 2025 also for:

What is the purpose of the standard charging plug?

On the other hand, the EU Parliament already wants to end the component chaos. On the other hand, it also saves e-waste. Because in the end fewer chargers and plugs must be sold, this should save 11,000 tons of e-waste across the EU. Consumers then have to pay €250 million less annually for the charging systems.

Where is the standard USB-C plug placed?

Of course, the EU can only work at the EU level, and it will prescribe the new regulation for new technical devices sold in the EU from the autumn of 2024. In theory, this could still cause minor problems with imported or those technical devices that you buy on vacation. However, USB-C is almost standard today anyway. In addition to Apple’s Lightning connector, you’ll only occasionally find other types of connectors like micro-USB on inexpensive individual products.

However, USB-PD (Power Delivery) with the old USB-A connector is still widespread, especially with charging sockets, at least in one respect. As far as the technical hardware is concerned, it’s usually USB-C today. In short: manufacturers outside the EU would have no reason not to use USB-C in the future. Consolidation could be the result.

Should new chargers come with a device?

Here’s a clear number: Chargers, cables, and plugs will be sold separately from any technology device in the future. At the very least, customers should always be able to choose whether they can purchase a new device with or without a charging system. Thus, the European Union is following a trend that has already established itself with smartphones in recent years: many devices no longer have charging sockets.

However, for us as consumers, this also means a slight change: with many devices other than smartphones, we naturally assumed that some kind of charger would be included. For example with cameras or satellite navigation devices. This will not be the case since the fall of 2024. Since you should then be able to use any charging plug flawlessly, you are free to choose here and you do not have to buy a more expensive charging plug directly from the manufacturer.

What download speed will become the standard?

The question got a little lost all over the unified type of connector: because different USB-C cables and connectors today support different charging speeds. The EU Parliament would also like to see this standardized from autumn 2024. However, the decision paper does not reveal exactly what speed should be applied next and the types of cables that will be used next.

It may at least be that with the new USB-C standard from fall 2024, you’ll need new cables again to be able to use the full charging speed. Existing USB-C cables will already be compatible; Charging using only them may be slower than standard standard cables. More details are not yet known. However, expect new “EU compliant” USB-C cables that will support at least standardized charging speed to appear on the market through 2024. Then you’ll have to buy it again.

Of course, manufacturers will not slow down and will continue to work on faster charging technologies. This means that USB cables of different strengths will likely remain from fall 2024.

What about Qi wireless charging?

By the way, there is still no similar standardization for wireless charging. Qi is now used in most devices, but in different designs and charge densities. Apple’s MagSafe, for example, is based on Qi but uses different charging pads. The European Union wants to improve this in the near future and make Qi the unified standard from 2026. But that has not yet been decided.

What are the disadvantages of the unified USB-C standard?

Does regulation also have disadvantages? Yes, we can actually see some horses’ feet there:

  • You’ll still have to replace some of your existing USB-C cables and sockets, or rather want to, in order to be able to use the new standard charging speed from 2024.
  • So some cables have to be sold again.
  • The fact that some manufacturers will then sell the technical devices in two versions with or without a charging system, while others will not, makes logistics more difficult and likely to confuse consumers.
  • The iPhone 14 should at least come with a Lightning connector in fall 2022. So Lightning cables should be available after 2024 if buyers of older iPhones want accessories.
  • And at least the question should be allowed as to whether the Lightning connector would actually not be the best mechanical option.
  • Thus, USB-C will be the standard charging technology for years to come — and that could hinder progress. What if a manufacturer invented better technology and then was not allowed to offer it at all?
  • What about the MagSafe docking connector for laptops, which Apple reintroduced on MacBooks last year? A return to USB-C would be a step back in terms of convenience. Unless Apple is working on Magsafe over USB-C.
  • How about the latest USB technology with faster throughput rates, like USB 5? Would the necessary technical advances be possible using the same cables?
  • And then there will be our “friends,” the USB consortium, which allows several USB standards at the same time every few years and makes it difficult for consumers to keep track of them. Will they then be able to agree on just one USB standard?

But in general, in our opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and above all, it should be implemented relatively quickly in a couple of years. What do you think that?

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