Will the US switch to USB-C?

The EU is requiring device makers to adopt a universal USB-C charger. Will the US follow suit?

Source: graphit77 / Getty Images

You know what’s some bullsh*t? Having to buy numerous chargers and adapters for all our modern devices.

The EU apparently thought that was bullsh*t, too.

Last month, it announced that most new portable devices (e.g., phones, tablets, headphones, etc.) must use a USB-C charger by 2024, per NPR. All new laptops must do so by 2026.

One charger to rule them all

In 2019, Wirecutter praised USB-C’s quick charging speed and symmetry — unlike the larger USB-A, there is no right-side up.

USB-C is now the standard port in many devices, including Google’s flagship Pixel phone.

But Apple still clings to its proprietary Lightning connector. It opposed the EU’s move, claiming that “strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it.”

Meanwhile, in the US…

… Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo last month, pushing for a similar mandate.

Why? Well, aside from the annoyance factor, needing multiple kinds of chargers — the average US consumer owns ~3 — can be costly and wasteful.

  • The EU predicts its new rule will save consumers ~$254.5m annually.
  • In 2019, humans produced 53.6m tons of e-waste globally, just 17% of which was recycled. Annually, old chargers account for 11k+ tons of e-waste.

Even if the US doesn’t act…

… tech companies may just adopt USB-C ports universally rather than make separate products for the EU. Apple Insider posits that Apple might switch to no ports and wireless charging.

If you’re worried about your charger becoming obsolete, The New York Times suggests buying cables with a USB-C connector on the other end, using USB-C adaptors, or going wireless.

Just don’t do this.

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