Brazil dropped quite the bomb on Apple this week when the country’s government told the tech giant it can no longer sell iPhones within its borders without a wall charger.
The order comes from Brazilian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (opens in new tab) claiming that Apple is selling an “incomplete product” to people. The ministry even goes so far as to say call the lack of chargers (opens in new tab) an “intentional discriminatory practice against consumers.” In addition, the Brazilian government is demanding that Apple pay a fine of more than 12 million reais (about $2.3 million) and the iPhone 12 will no longer be registered with the country’s National Telecommunications Agency; better known as Anatel (opens in new tab). You can think of it as the Brazilian version of the US Federal Communications Commission (the FCC).
According to the announcement, Brazilian authorities do not believe Apple’s argument that the omission of the charger was done out of concern for the environment. The US consumer protection agency Senacon, (National Consumer Secretariat), states that there is no evidence that selling an iPhone without a charger helps the environment. If there’s anything, it’s a “burden” for the consumer (opens in new tab). Senacon responds by proposing Apple switch to USB-C cables and chargers if it really wants to help the environment.
This news comes at a very inconvenient time for Apple, as it comes the day before the company announced its big… Far Out September Event (opens in new tab) where people expect the new iPhone 14. It is unknown whether Brazil’s announcement will affect the event or the new device.
We contacted Apple and asked if they would like to make a statement about the announcement. This story will be updated if we hear anything.
This suspension is the latest in a series of regulatory challenges not only by Brazil, but countries around the world.
Challenges from Brazil in particular have been going on for a while. Back in 2021 (opens in new tab), another consumer protection agency PROCON-SP (Protection and Consumer Defense Foundation of the State of São Paulo) has fined Apple 10.5 million reais (about $2 million) for similar reasons. It also states that there is no evidence that omitting the wall charger will help the environment and that the company has been running “misleading advertisements”.
Brazil also wants to copy recent moves by the European Union to require all smartphones to use the same USB-C charging standard. Most modern Android phones already use USB-C cables, so this change will mainly affect Apple, which has been slow to adopt this format. Anatel is leading the way on this front and aims to implement a USB-C policy for devices by July 1, 2024.
The European Union has already made its move because it “will require all cellphones, tablets, and other electronic devices to have a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024.” EU lawmakers were frustrated that the smartphone industry was going at a snail’s pace in finding a compromise, so they decided to take a step instead.
While the EU is making progress with USB-C, things are different with the United Kingdom and the United States.
The UK in particular, won’t ask Apple to adopt a single charging stand and has no plans to change this opinion any time soon. With the United States, neither side has taken the step of establishing a universal charging standard. There are some senators in Congress are pushing for a USB-C standard (opens in new tab) but nothing else.
It’s very possible that UK and US customers will have a different standard than the EU and Brazil if the latter decides to go ahead with its USB-C charger promises. But at the same time, it’s also possible that Apple will just give in and embrace USB-C for future devices instead of having to make two different iPhones with different charging standards for different countries.
The second option sounds like a huge manufacturing problem for Apple. At this point, we just have to wait and see how Apple responds. According to the announcement, Brazil will allow the company to appeal its decision.
If you’re curious about what’s coming up at Apple’s Far Out event, be sure to follow Slice Mag’s coverage on September 7.