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Lightning ban? Apple slams EU plans, but hints wheels in motion

Apple has fired back at the suggestion it should dump the Lightning port from its smartphones, amid EU plans to enforce a standardised charging solution for all mobile devices.

As the European Parliament plans to vote on whether smartphone manufacturers should benefit from a universal means of replenishing and connecting their handsets, Apple says ditching the Lightning cable would add to the tech waste problem, rather than lessen it.

Apple says a shift to a standardised USB-C charging solution would create an “unprecedented amount of electronic waste” if the hundreds of millions of iPhone users around the world were forced to adopt new cables (via BBC).

There are a couple of caveats to that suggestion from Apple. Firstly it already chucks a Lightning cable in with every new iPhone, so adding a USB-C cable instead wouldn’t be the hugest deal. Secondly, it’s no stranger to the unprecedented amounts of waste that piled up when Lightning replaced the 30-pin connector. Thirdly, its policy of dropping ports wherever possible has created the need for more additional dongles than anyone is comfortable with.

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The European Parliament believes requiring all tech companies to adopt a standardised solution would actually reduce the amount of cables that end up in landfill. It estimates that those obsolete cables produce a staggering 51,000 tonnes of waste every single year.

In a statement, Apple didn’t necessarily rule out a shift to USB-C, as has been rumoured for the iPhone, but said forcing it upon tech companies wouldn’t have the desired effect. Apple has already shifted to USB-C for its MacBook laptops and the latest iPad Pro models, for example.

A spokesperson said: “We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB-C through a connector or cable assembly.”

Given recent trends, it’s possible Apple’s long term solution isn’t necessarily to switch all iPhone handsets to USB-C, but to go exclusively wireless. That would take a much greater shift in habits for everyone involved, including the need to have charging stations everywhere, or significantly scale down the size of the charging pads to make them more portable for consumers.

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