India Is Considering EU-Style Charger Rules That Would Block Older iPhones From Sale

Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil, reporting for Reuters from New Delhi:

India wants to implement a European Union rule that will require smartphones to have a universal USB-C charging port, and has been in talks with manufacturers about introducing the requirement in India by June 2025, six months after the deadline in the EU. While all manufacturers including Samsung have agreed to India’s plan, Apple is pushing back. [...]

In a closed-door Nov. 28 meeting chaired by India’s IT ministry, Apple asked officials to exempt existing iPhone models from the rules, warning it will otherwise struggle to meet production targets set under India’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, according to the meeting minutes seen by Reuters. [...]

In terms of market share, Apple accounts for 6% of India’s booming smartphone market, compared with just about 2% four years ago. Apple suppliers have expanded their facilities and make most iPhone 12, 13, 14 and 15 models in India for local sales and exports, Counterpoint Research estimates. Only iPhone 15 has the new universal charging port. Apple told Indian officials in the meeting that the “design of the earlier products cannot be changed,” the document showed.

Consumers in India’s price-conscious market prefer buying older models of iPhones which typically become cheaper with new launches, and India’s push for the common charger on older models could hit Apple’s targets, said Prabhu Ram, head of the Industry Intelligence Group at CyberMedia Research. “Apple’s fortunes in India have primarily been tied to older generation iPhones,” he said.

I was under the impression that the EU’s USB-C requirement will only apply to new devices, but maybe not? A plain reading of this EU press release suggests that all phones sold, starting in 2025, must have USB-C charging ports:

By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops.

That would mean, starting in January 2025, that the only iPhones available in the EU will be this year’s iPhones 15 and next year’s iPhones 16. A new fourth-generation iPhone SE with USB-C would give Apple a much-needed lower-priced model. The second-gen SE came in 2020; the current third-gen SE in 2022.

See also: Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac.

Tuesday, 5 December 2023