Wireless charging breaks into the pulse between Apple and the EU for an equal connector for all mobiles
In January 2020, the European Union assured that in the summer of that year it would impose the universal charger for any type of mobile phone throughout the continent. The date, more willful than real, was postponed, but already then it was seen that the greatest opposition came from Apple. The intention of the European Commission to make mandatory the USB-C model, the most widely used in the industry, left its exclusive Lightning charger out of play. Months later, the pulse continues; But there is a new variable in the equation: some experts at the American company point out that its next bet could be exclusively wireless charging.
Apple is usually quite opaque when it comes to revealing future plans. But specialized blogs and analysts like Mark Gurman, the Bloomberg, point out that the company is studying eliminating any cable within two or three years. And they are supported by real evidence. The main one, the registration of an Apple patent in the United States based on a magnetic charger, which would not require any type of hole in mobile phones. In addition, the recovery of the MagSafe wireless charger, which the technology incorporated again in the latest iPhone model and previously only used for its MacBook laptops.
It is not expected until June that the results of two studies necessary before creating European legislation will be published, one on the impact of electronic decoupling and the other precisely on wireless charging. Although there is no definite date to conclude the battle of the chargers, sources of the community institutions assure that Apple, no matter how much it wishes otherwise, will not be able to violate the adopted norms. Neither the current Lightning charger nor the possible wireless solution will fit in if the regulations outlined by Brussels are finally successfully completed. And these sources recall that if a product does not comply with the requirements of Union legislation, the national market surveillance authorities will require the company to take the appropriate corrective measures, including the recall of the product.
The Commission puts forward utility and environmental reasons for imposing the one-size-fits-all. Apple believes that this would undermine innovation and harm European consumers. According to the official position of the company, “the legislation would have a direct negative impact by interrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers.” Technology tends to set trends, as it already happened when the big brands copied their pioneering AirPods wireless headphones. But it is not easy for him to impose his commercial vision this time.
Chema Molina, founder of the Spanish company Frenetic, which is revolutionizing the manufacture of chargers, recognizes the high efficiency of the Apple connector because it ensures that the batteries suffer as little as possible during the charging process. By making a simile with the way we eat, Lightning makes it small bites; on the other hand, the others are more abrupt, almost bingeing. Although this degree of optimization has not yet been achieved by USB-C, in the words of Molina, it is not a sufficient reason to abandon the universalization of a charger proposed by the EU. “It is the way. It benefits the final consumer and the planet. You reduce costs and drastically reduce electronic waste. The first thing is that there is a unified one and, from there, find the most suitable one ”, he explains.
A great connoisseur of batteries and chargers such as Macià Capó, project engineer at the CITCEA-UPC Power Electronics Research Center, also understands that the most sustainable option leads to universalization, no matter how much Apple closes ranks around its products. “Devices shouldn’t always be sold with a charger, especially if you already have one from before. It makes no sense that there are different chargers since batteries are very similar in all their elements ”, he suggests.
And wouldn’t the wireless charging of the phone be even more sustainable? The problem is that today it is very inefficient. “Right now it would be a big mistake to decide that this is the solution. We would use 20% more energy with each charge of the phone ”, assures Molina. Despite the technical advances of recent years, it faces a level of immaturity and energy loss that little help the industry take its viability seriously.
Another problem would be data recovery. If we do not have internet access, we need a cable to access old backup copies of the phone with which to restore its operation. The only option right now to do so would be to go to the brand’s stores (in this case, Apple) and have them access the cloud there and upload the information from the phone. Although the reset procedures could always be changed for other only wireless ones.
In the middle of the debate, Apple surprised at the presentation of its iPhone 12 by announcing that it would sell it only with the cable, but without a charger. The reason alleged by the company was precisely one of those that is argued to impose the universal charger: respect for the environment. The measure raised controversy between users and some experts, who attributed the measure rather to the desire to save costs (the Apple charger is sold loose for 25 euros in Spain). Some manufacturers joked about the initiative of the Cupertino company. But within weeks, competing companies like Samsung joined the initiative. Apple, once again, was setting the trend.