Apple poised to unveil major change to meet EU rules

Apple is about to hit play on its annual product launch – and this year all the focus is on a change the tech giant really didn’t want to make.

Apple will launch its iPhone 15 at the Wonderlust product event overnight in the US, with one of the biggest features of its latest flagship phone widely tipped to be the dumping of the company’s favoured Lightning charging port.

Instead, the new phones will have more standard USB-C ports – after the European Union laid down the law to the tech giant.

“Apple didn’t decide to drop the lightning port on its phones all by itself. Rather, this is dictated by regulators in Europe, who passed a requirement that any device sold on the continent use a common charging standard,” Tom’s Guide wrote this week, in a column headlined “Watch Apple celebrate the move it didn’t want to make”.

“The EU gave companies until the end of 2024 to comply with the rule, so Apple’s actually making the switch early, but make no mistake — this is something the company would not be doing otherwise, as evidenced by its vociferous objections as the regulation was being formulated.”

Apple is falling into line with laws that require all new mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU’s 27 nations to have USB-C charging ports by the end of 2024. From 2026, the change will also apply to laptop computers.

The change brings to an end Apple’s go-it-alone lightning port, which was introduced to the company’s phones, tablets and iPods in September 2012.

At the time, it promised faster charging and was significantly slimmer than the existing clunky 30-pin dock connector.

Apple is the last tech giant move to USB-C ports, with Google and Samsung having charged used them for years.

“[The] announcement will be accompanied by Apple executives detailing the merits of a switch to USB-C, portraying it as a big step forward for both the iPhone and the people who rely on Apple’s handsets,” wrote Tom’s Guide.

“Something Apple will not mention: It’s making this change at the point of bayonet.”

The EU says the change will help reduce the amount of e-waste and plastic rubbish rapidly filling the world’s landfills.

“The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe. We have waited more than 10 years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past,” EU Parliament vice-chair Alex Agius Saliba said.

“This future-proof law allows for the development of innovative charging solutions in the future, and it will benefit everyone – from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment.”

What else to expect

Tuesday night’s event will be hosted at the Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Wall Street analysts believe Apple will try to entice shoppers with a range of new features for its flagship device, as the launch comes against the backdrop of a slump in smartphone demand globally.

Apple posted a 2.4 per cent decline in iPhone sales for its fiscal third quarter – a rare drop for the product that has for years powered the company’s growth.

In more hints of troubled waters ahead for Apple, its shares dipped 6 per cent last week after Beijing barred government officials from using iPhones at work, wiping about $US200 billion ($311 billion) off its value.

TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the most expensive variant of the new generation iPhone to be announced on Tuesday night will have a periscope camera that could improve zoom capacity by five times or more.

The expected watch line-up may feature a new processor based on Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, already used in previous iPhone models, and will boost performance, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Bloomberg‘s chief technology correspondent Mark Gurman reports that other changes coming in the new model phone include a redesigned frame made with titanium rather than stainless steel, a thinner border around the screen, and the A17 processor.

-with AAP

Topics: Apple
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