EU gives stark warning to Apple not to throttle charging speeds on iPhones

·2-min read
It looks like the plug will be pulled on Apple’s Lightning cable  (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)
It looks like the plug will be pulled on Apple’s Lightning cable (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)

A top EU official has warned Apple it cannot put limits on competitor charging cables for its new iPhones, according to reports.

If the tech giant tries to hamper the functionality of rival cables, the sale of iPhones could be prevented in the European Union, Commissioner Thierry Breton told the company in a letter, according to German news agency DPA.

Under new EU legislation, USB-C charging ports are to become standard across all electronic devices from the end of 2024. Apple had been expected to adapt to the change with the release of its iPhone 15, but rumours emerged earlier this year that it would limit charging and data transfer through competitor cables.

If this was the case, iPhone users could have found that cables not certified under Apple’s “Made for iPhone” programme performed less well than Apple versions, with potential limits on charging speed and data transfers. A small chip inside the USB-C port would be able to verify whether the charger was an Apple product.

However, the rumours have never been confirmed by Apple. The company did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Friday.

Mr Breton, who is the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, responded to the reports by writing a letter to Apple, warning them against making some functions available only for its own cables.

“Devices that do not meet the requirements for the common charger will not be allowed on the EU market,” he said.

The incoming EU rules mean Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable could be slowly phased out, even in countries like the UK that are not part of the bloc. Although the UK Government has not said it will put in place similar rules, the iPhone maker seems unlikely to create a UK-only version of the next handset.

The law, passed in October last year, requires all mobile phones, tablets, cameras, and other small- or medium-sized electronics sold in the EU to have a USB-C charging port by December 2024.

The technology is a long-standing feature of Apple products, appearing on every handset since the iPhone 5 was released in 2012. However, its iPad range has used the USB-C since 2018.

Mr Breton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.