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Why a USB-C iPhone Could Be Coming Globally

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The European Union has made its ruling: If Apple wants to sell new iPhones in the region, those devices will need to have a USB-C port before the end of 2024.

That means Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which has existed for more than a decade and established itself as a considerable money-maker for the tech giant, will need to be phased out of future iPhones. At least the ones going to the EU.

“We have no choice — as we do around the world, [Apple will] comply with local laws,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said at a Wall Street Journal tech conference on Oct. 25 when asked if Apple will adhere to the EU’s common charging law.

“We think it would have been better environmentally and better for our customers to not have a government be that prescriptive.”

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While the legislation technically only applies to consumer electronics sold within the EU, Apple may be forced to decide on the fate of the Lightning port for iPhones bound for overseas. Most commercial phones charge and connect to accessories using the USB-C standard, but iPhones don’t. Could this mean future iPhones sold outside the EU will also transition to a USB-C charging port? Or will Apple make hardware changes by geography: Producing two iPhone variants to accommodate USB-C and Lightning — one for the EU and the other for the rest of the world?

Apple already modifies iPhone models regionally, as it has done with the iPhone 14. The US version only has an electronic SIM, while other variants retain the SIM slot, as Avi Greengart, analyst at Techsponential, points out. But he also thinks Apple has good reasons to move all iPhones to USB-C moving forward.

“…There are larger ecosystem, security, and accessory considerations with the power/data connector, so I think it is more likely that Apple moves all iPhones [globally] to USB-C in the iPhone 16 timeframe to comply with European regulations.”

A-usb-c-wall-charger-surrounded-by-iPhones
Most commercially available smartphones have a USB-C port, but the iPhone does not. It uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning port connector.

 


Mkeke

For more than a decade, European lawmakers have pushed for electronic devices to include a standardized charger in a bid to reduce cable clutter and e-waste. The legislation, part of the amended Radio Equipment Directive, was finalized in June before the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the rule in October. Its approval is widely seen as a victory for consumers, who will soon be able to use just one single USB-C charger across a range of accessories and devices, including higher-wattage ones like gaming laptops and 4K monitors. Its adoption was also viewed as a win for the environment. A European think tank estimates chargers put up to 13,000 tons of e-waste per year in the EU and have associated life cycle emissions of around 600 to 900 kilotons in carbon dioxide equivalents.

Apple has vociferously lobbied against the idea of a common phone charger. The tech giant argues such legislation could stifle innovation and exacerbate the e-waste problem since it would presumably render the Lightning cable obsolete for possibly a billion people worldwide. Apple, which collects fees from third-party companies that manufacture made-for-iPhone accessories, would potentially miss out on the earnings generated from every Lightning cable and accessory that’s compatible with the iPhone.

Despite Apple’s pushback, the tech giant has reportedly put a USB-C iPhone to the test. Noted Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicts Apple will beat the EU mandate by a year, equipping a new iPhone with a USB-C port in 2023.

“USB-C could improve iPhone’s transfer and charging speed in hardware designs, but the final spec details still depend on iOS support,” Kuo wrote in a May post on Twitter.

For its part, Apple has been transitioning out of Lightning in other products for several years now. The tech giant included USB-C in 2015 with that year’s MacBook. It later replaced Lightning with USB-C on the iPad Pro in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020 and iPad Mini in 2021. In addition to including a USB-C port on a rumored 2023 iPhone, Kuo expects several other Apple accessories, including AirPods, the Magic Keyboard and the MagSafe Battery Pack, to switch over to USB-C, but he didn’t offer a specific timeline.

In the long run, the iPhone’s shift to USB-C is poised to benefit Apple customers — just as the legislation intended. Since most of the company’s iPads and Macs already use USB-C rather than Lightning, the move will streamline the charging experience. Apple loyalists currently need three different types of chargers to power the iPhone, MacBook, iPad and Apple Watch. For a company that prides itself on its ecosystem, Apple offers a cumbersome charging experience that runs counter to its ethos of simplicity.

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto rear of iPhone 12 ProApple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto rear of iPhone 12 Pro
Apple reintroduced its MagSafe charging technology with the iPhone 12 lineup. Here’s an Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snapped onto the iPhone 12 Pro.

 


Patrick Holland/CNET

“It does make sense for Apple to [switch to a USB-C iPhone] across markets, as it will not only enhance the experience of the users, who are also using iPads or Macs, but will also simplify the processes in the supply chain,” Will Wong, a research manager for the International Data Corporation, told CNET.

Even if Apple eventually makes the switch to a USB-C iPhone for all models, it’s possible the connector will only be used for a short time. Rumors point to Apple abandoning ports on the iPhone altogether, moving entirely to wireless charging and connectivity like with Apple’s MagSafe accessories.

“Portless is likely to be one of the developments Apple is looking at as we saw the introduction of the MagSafe wireless charger,” Wong said. “Nevertheless, there are hurdles like slower charging speed to overcome before fully going portless,”

A USB-C iPhone is perhaps more likely than ever to hit stores worldwide, however. It’s something that’s been on Apple fans’ wish lists for years as a USB-C port is more convenient and transfers data more efficiently than its Lightning counterpart. Whether that happens in 2023, 2024 or beyond remains to be seen, but Apple is readying itself and its iPhones for a transition in the EU, at the very least.

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Xiaomi 14 Gains Attention in Southeast Asia With Camera Upgrades – BNN Bloomberg

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(Bloomberg) — Xiaomi Corp.’s latest smartphone launch caught early customer attention in Southeast Asia as the company seeks to reclaim ground lost to other top players including Samsung Electronics Co. and Chinese peer Transsion.

The global launch of the Xiaomi 14 and 14 Ultra devices at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona pushed Xiaomi’s name into the top 10 of online trending lists in Malaysia and the Philippines. While Apple Inc.’s iPhone dominates interest in Southeast Asia as it does globally, Xiaomi took second place from Samsung in Indonesia a year ago with the launch of its earlier generation.

The Beijing-based phone maker has made a big bet on leading with camera technology, partnering with Germany’s Leica Camera on lens technology and using Sony Group Corp.’s large LYT-900 image sensor for the main camera in its Ultra model.

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Xiaomi made a strong recovery in most markets in the region in the last quarter of 2023, bouncing back from double-digit declines a year ago, according to Kiranjeet Kaur, research director at IDC.

“In Southeast Asia, while some of this can be attributed to the recovery in consumer demand, efforts to streamline its portfolio, sort out its channel issues and focus on a new product portfolio helped Xiaomi to gain traction,” Kaur said.

In the long run, Xiaomi is locked in a fight with rivals such as Samsung and Transsion in Southeast Asian markets as demand remains weak in China. The region’s smartphone shipments are expected to grow 7% this year after recording a moderate 4% growth in the final quarter of 2023, according to research firm Canalys.

–With assistance from Soo Jin Kim.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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China's Xiaomi launches high-end phone in Samsung challenge and debuts EV in Europe – CNBC

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The Xiaomi 14 Ultra.
Xiaomi

BARCELONA — Xiaomi launched its flagship smartphone globally on Sunday as it looks to keep up its recovery momentum, while also debuting its electric vehicle for the first time in Europe.

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The Chinese electronics giant launched the Xiaomi 14 for global markets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, after debuting it this week in China.

Xiaomi found success after its founding in 2010 thanks to selling high-spec and low priced smartphones. But with that section of the market getting more competitive, Xiaomi has looked to push into the higher end of the market, where Apple and Samsung are particularly dominant, but where growth has remained despite a difficult overall phone industry.

The launch comes as Xiaomi has seen a recovery in its core smartphone business which accounts for just under two thirds of its total revenue. Xiaomi, which is the third biggest smartphone player in the world, saw shipments decline 4.7% year-on-year in 2023, according to IDC, a much slower fall than 2022. In the third quarter, Xiaomi posted a small rise in revenue, after six straight quarters of decline.

But Xiaomi continues to face intense competition in the high-end from the incumbents Apple and Samsung, as well as Chinese players like Honor, a spin-off from Huawei. Samsung in January launched its flagship S24 series of phones.

Xiaomi has been trying to talk up its business beyond smartphones, however. Last year, Xiaomi launched its first electric vehicle, the SU7, opening up a new product category for the Chinese giant. Xiaomi debuted the car at MWC, showing it off for the first time in Europe.

The company also launched the Smart Band 8 Pro, Xiaomi Watch S3, and Xiaomi Watch 2 – a smart fitness band and two smartwatches.

Xiaomi is trying to position itself as a company offering a number of consumer devices that can all be linked together via its own operating system – HyperOS — which it launched last year. This is a very similar strategy to what Samsung and Apple do.

Xiaomi 14

The Xiaomi 14 comes in two versions — the standard Xiaomi 14 and the Xiaomi 14 Ultra.

For the more expensive Xiaomi 14 Ultra, the company talked up its “quad” camera, which uses lenses from German firm Leica.

The company touted the professional photography and videography features including a “movie mode” which enables “an authentic cinematic look and motion blur,” according to a Xiaomi press release.

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China's Honor globally launches AI-enhanced Magic 6 Pro smartphone – Yahoo Canada Finance

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(Corrects market share in paragraph 7)

(Reuters) – Chinese technology company Honor on Sunday globally launched its new Magic 6 Pro smartphone and showcased an experimental eye-tracking AI function that enables users to remotely open and move their car just by looking at their phone screen.

The tool is already available in China and the company is working to integrate it commercially overseas.

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Honor, sold by Huawei Technologies in November 2020, and now belonging to state-owned Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co, had until Sunday released its new phone exclusively in China.

Tech and telecom companies are releasing new products and features ahead of the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona set to kick off Monday, hoping the buzz around generative AI will boost business prospects.

Makers of smartphones hope the excitement around AI will help boost a sluggish market for smartphones, though many experts say generative AI may raise legal or ethical concerns.

The company, which competes with the likes of Apple and Oppo for a share of China’s smartphone market, is also working to globally integrate the so-called LlaMA 2 large language model (LLM), a tool similar to ChatGPT, into its phone.

In 2023, Apple had a 17.3% market share in China, while Honor had 17.1%, according to International Data Corporation.

Honor on Sunday is also launching its new MagicBook Pro 16 laptop, with an AI feature allowing users to move applications like messaging apps between devices, for example from an Android smartphone to a Windows PC, with a single drag.

“We firmly believe in the transformative power of collaborative synergy, especially in the era of AI,” said the company’s CEO George Zhao in a statement.

(This story has been corrected to fix market share in paragraph 7)

(Reporting by Olivier Sorgho)

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