Apple unveils iPhone 15 with USB-C charging port to comply with EU regulations | Science and technology news

Apple has announced its new iPhone 15 series with a USB-C charging port, ditching its Lightning standard to comply with EU regulations.

This is the first time since 2012 that the tech giant has changed the connector on its flagship device.

The change had been anticipated since last year, when the EU mandated that all portable electronics must have a universal plug by the end of 2024 to reduce e-waste and simplify life for consumers.

Apple had opposed the demand but recognized that it must follow it – and confirmed the change by his iPhone unveiling event Tuesday.

Apple’s Kaiann Drance said the company brought USB-C to the iPhone 15 because it “has become a universally accepted standard”.

The iPhone 15 range mirrors that of the 14, with a standard 6.1″ model (£799); a 6.7″ Plus version (£899); and more powerful pro incarnations with the same screen sizes (£999 and £1,199).

All four will have USB-C connectors when they come out on September 22.


By Arthi Nachiappan, Technology Correspondent

Life is getting harder to navigate as a tech giant.

While the biggest among them have developed a reputation for doing things their own way, rising geopolitical tensions and varied regulations around the world are significantly affecting the way they do business.

The forced change in Apple’s iPhone design to include a USB-C charger is just one example.

Regulators around the world differ widely in their approach to regulating online security and nascent policies to govern artificial intelligence.

Just last week, Apple’s value fell by £160 billion after escalating tensions between the US and China threatened to limit sales in one of its biggest markets.

Investors were concerned that reports that the Chinese government is cracking down on the use of the US devices by government employees could have a wider effect.

Sam Sharps, executive director of policy at the Tony Blair Institute think tank, said: “Like all the really big tech companies, it is almost a geostrategic player in itself.

“It has the size and weight of a country, and its relationship with the great powers and the different countries around the world is starting to become incredibly important.”

He added: “Apple is somewhat dependent on its relationship with the Chinese government, partly because of the supply chain and all the manufacturing that takes place in China, but also because it’s a giant market for Apple.”

Move risks ‘mountains of e-waste’

Using USB-C brings the iPhone not only in line with other Apple products like the latest Macs and iPads, but with rival Android telephones; cameras and laptops; e-readers such as Kindle; and game consoles such as Nintendo Contact.

Apple also used the event at its California headquarters to reveal the iPhone’s standard wired earphones, and the charging case for its AirPods Pro earphones would switch to USB-C.

The USB-C port means the AirPods can charge directly from the iPhone.  Image: Apple
The USB-C port means the AirPods can charge directly from the iPhone. Image: Apple

While an increasing number of devices are using it, some experts have expressed concern about the number of cables that could become obsolete in the short term.

Ed Hoppitt of cloud computing firm VMware said it could create “mountains and mountains of e-waste”.

“Since the Lightning cable was introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012, countless Apple phones, devices, headphones, adapters and other accessories have used it,” he said.

“When Apple ditched the old 30-pin connector in 2012, they had sold 610 million devices that used it.

“Since 2021, they’ve sold over two billion iPhones alone.”

Apple moved to get ahead of the criticism by announcing a number of environmental initiatives at the event, such as ceasing production of leather phone cases and watch straps.

The new Apple Watch Series 9 will be its first carbon-neutral device, and the American tech company pledged to become completely carbon-neutral by 2030.

Industry expert Ben Wood, principal analyst at CCS Insight, said the switch to USB-C would prove to be a “victory for common sense” in the long term.

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the 'Wonderlust' event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2023. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
Apple CEO Tim Cook led Tuesday’s event from the company’s Cupertino headquarters

New cameras and colors among familiar announcements

In addition to the adoption of USB-C, Apple touted the usual improvements to tempt iPhone users to upgrade.

Apple said the standard and plus iPhone 15 had a 48-megapixel camera, a telephoto lens with 2x zoom and a screen twice as bright as their predecessors.

Each iPhone 15 model also gets the “dynamic island” that was limited to the 14 Pro. This replaces the notch with a smaller cutout in the screen and changes how notifications look when they arrive.

The devices’ satellite connectivity, which allows users to make calls without cellular coverage, will also now be able to summon roadside assistance in remote areas – but this is limited to the US for now.

Most important, given the year’s Barbie hypepink is among the new colors.

For the pro model, it will have a new titanium cover, a customizable action button to replace the mute switch, more advanced camera with five times optical zoom, an even brighter screen and faster chip.

Pink is among the colors of the new iPhones.  Image: Apple
Pink is among the colors of the new iPhone. Image: Apple

Shares fall slightly after a lack of surprises

The £399 Apple Watch Series 9’s headline feature is being able to detect small changes in the wearer’s blood flow to sense when they double-click their index finger and thumb.

The gesture acts as a shortcut for everything from starting a stopwatch to answering a call and keeping the wearer’s other hand free for other tasks.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2, meanwhile, is a £799 follow-up to last year’s wearable aimed at fitness fanatics, but the upgrades seemed modest compared to the previous version.

The new watches will arrive with the iPhone 15 on store shelves on September 22.

The announcements went no further than what was expected prior to the eventand shares fell 1.7% after hours.

Apple could still announce new iPads before the end of the year, while its £2,800 mixed-reality headset, unveiled earlier this summer, will arrive in early 2024.

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