Apple Challenges India’s Universal Charging Port Mandate, Cites Production Impact

In a closed-door meeting between Apple and India’s IT ministry, tensions surfaced over India’s intent to implement a universal USB-C charging port requirement for smartphones, following the European Union’s directives, Reuters news report said.
Apple iphone 12 5G smartphone in SingaporeAccording to a government document seen by Reuters, Apple expressed concerns that complying with this mandate could significantly impact its production targets in India.

While other major smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, have shown agreement with India’s proposal to introduce the universal charging port by June 2025 – aligning with the EU’s deadline – Apple has sought exemptions or delays.

Apple’s insistence on maintaining its proprietary lightning connector port for iPhones clashes with the EU’s estimation that a standardized charger could save consumers approximately $271 million while reducing e-waste, a point India has emphasized.

Under India’s production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, which incentivizes electronic manufacturers for investments and annual incremental phone sales, Apple voiced apprehension that adhering to the new regulation on existing iPhone models could hinder meeting the set PLI targets. The minutes from the meeting quoted Apple’s regulatory executives emphasizing this concern.

While Apple didn’t quantify the precise impact on production during the meeting, it urged officials to consider exempting older iPhone models from the mandate. However, the IT ministry has decided to review this request and will make a decision at a later date, sources familiar with the discussions revealed.

Apple, known for its stringent control over design, reiterated in the meeting that altering the design of earlier products to comply with the universal charging port requirement was not feasible.

India has emerged as a significant growth market for Apple, with projections by renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting a substantial increase in iPhone production in the country. Currently accounting for 6 percent of India’s smartphone market share, Apple has witnessed a steady rise from just about 2 percent four years ago. However, the country’s inclination towards purchasing older iPhone models, driven by pricing, could pose challenges for Apple if the universal charging port is mandated for these devices.

While the EU’s charging port regulations are set to commence in December 2024, India aims for compliance by June 2025. Apple conveyed its ability to meet the Indian timeline if older models are exempted, proposing an 18-month extension beyond 2024 should this exemption not be granted.