EU warns Apple against throttling data and charging speed with USB-C
Under European Union legislation, Apple has ultimately acquiesced to replacing the iPhone’s Lightning interface with the more ubiquitous USB-C. The forthcoming iPhone 15 series, set to be released this autumn, will feature USB-C ports, enriching consumers’ options for data cables and reducing the consumption of diverse cables.
Nonetheless, adopting the USB-C interface does not preclude Apple from engaging in other subtle maneuvers, such as reports indicating that Foxconn has commenced production of USB-C data cables containing MFI chips.
MFI, an abbreviation for Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad, permits only certified companies to manufacture peripherals compatible with Apple devices, such as data cables. Certification is achieved through the incorporation of an embedded chip; without it, charging an iPhone may trigger a device incompatibility notification on the screen.
Apple’s production of USB-C data cables with MFI chips implies that the company can still compel consumers to purchase Apple-certified data cables, rendering ordinary USB-C cables unusable.
Alternatively, Apple could opt for a more moderate approach, such as speculating that using non-MFI-certified data cables may result in restricted charging or data transfer speeds, coercing consumers into purchasing MFI-certified cables.
In response to this duplicitous tactic, European Commissioner Thierry Breton has penned a letter to Apple, cautioning the company against restricting USB-C data cable functionality. Should Apple fail to comply when the new legislation comes into effect on December 28, 2024, iPhones will be banned across the European Union.
Apple has likely anticipated the EU’s reaction and prepared accordingly. After all, the new legislation will not take effect until December 28, 2024, allowing the company to continue limiting non-MFI data cable charging and data transfer speeds until then. When the law is on the verge of implementation, Apple would simply need to release a software update to EU users, lifting the restrictions. Whether these limitations will be removed in other markets remains uncertain.