Apple bows to EU and unveils iPhone with USB-C charger
Apple unveils new iPhone lineup with USB-C charger ports, replacing Lightning chargers, after dispute with EU.
Apple unveiled its new iPhone lineup on Tuesday, with its Lightning charger ports replaced on the newest models by a universal charger after a tussle with the European Union.
The European bloc is insisting that all phones and other small devices must be compatible with the USB-C charging cables from the end of next year, a move it says will reduce waste and save money for consumers.
The firm had long argued that its cable was more secure than USB-C chargers, which are already deployed by Apple on other devices and widely used by rivals including the world's biggest smartphone maker Samsung.
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"USB-C has become a universally accepted standard. So we're bringing USB-C to iPhone 15," said Kaiann Drance, Apple's vice president of iPhone marketing at a launch event.
The release comes as Apple faces declining sales of iPhones, with higher prices pushing customers to delay switching to newer models.
Like any other company, Apple would prefer to boast about shiny new features rather than new charging ports.
But analysts agree that the switch to USB-C was going to be the main headline.
EU policymakers said the rule would simplify the lives of Europeans and do away with a mountain of obsolete chargers.
"The cable change may give consumers pause, but within a generation they will get over it: They won't have a choice," said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart.
Along with rolling improvements to iPhone cameras and chips, Apple also said that the iPhone 15, which includes four varieties, would have internal components that simplify repair and a new frame that allows the back glass to be easily replaced.
The openness to repair is an unexpected turnaround.
Apple last month said it was endorsing passage of a California law requiring major gadget makers to enable people to fix their devices without taking them back to companies.
Apple also unveiled new models of the Apple Watch that would respond to a tap of the index finger and thumb to start and stop calls or other key functions.
Sales of iPhones in the recently ended quarter lagged analyst estimates.
Apple suffered a 2.4 percent drop in iPhone sales, which account for nearly half of total revenues.
Apple shares were battered last week following reports of significant Chinese restrictions on iPhones at government offices and state-backed entities.
"China is a very important market for Apple, so any negative sentiment by the Chinese government toward Apple is concerning," analyst Greengart told AFP.
Apple reported $15.8 billion in revenues from China in the most recent quarter, nearly 20 percent of total revenues. Executives pointed to the uptick in China sales in a period when overall sales fell.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives estimated that a Chinese government ban would affect less than 500,000 iPhones of roughly 45 million projected to be sold in the country in the next year.
"We believe despite the loud noise Apple has seen massive share gains in China smartphone market," Ives said.