Brazilian government tells Apple it can’t sell iPhones without a charger anymore

Country also orders Apple to pay $2.3 million fine

Brazil dropped quite the bomb on Apple this week when that nation’s government told the tech giant that it can no longer sell iPhones within its borders without a wall charger.

The order comes from Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security who claims that Apple is selling an “incomplete product” to people. The Ministry even goes as far as to call the lack of chargers a “deliberate discriminatory practice against consumers.” On top of that, the Brazilian government is ordering Apple to pay a fine of over 12 million reais (around $2.3 million) and the iPhone 12 will no longer be registered with the country’s National Telecommunications Agency; better known as Anatel . You can think of it as Brazil’s version of the United States Federal Communications Commission (the FCC).

According to the announcement, Brazilian authorities don’t buy Apple’s argument that omitting the charger was done out of concern for the environment. The country’s consumer protection agency Senacon, (National Consumer Secretariat), states there’s no evidence that selling an iPhone without a charger helps the environment. If anything, it’s a “burden” to consumers. Senacon retorts by suggesting Apple switch over to USB-C cables and chargers if it truly wants to help the environment. 

This news comes at a really awkward time for Apple as it comes the day before the company is set to hold its big Far Out September event where people are expecting to see the new iPhone 14. It’s unknown if Brazil’s announcement will affect the event or the new device.

We reached out to Apple and asked if they would like to make a statement about the announcement. This story will be updated if we hear back.

Ongoing challenges

This suspension is the latest in a series of regulatory challenges, not only by Brazil, but by countries from around the world. 

Challenges from Brazil, in particular, have been going on for a while. Back in 2021, another consumer protection agency PROCON-SP (Protection and Consumer Defense Foundation of the State of São Paulo) fined Apple 10.5 millions reais (about $2 million) for similar reasons. It also states there’s no evidence the wall charger omission helps the environment and that the company performed “misleading advertising.”

Brazil is also looking to copy recent moves by the European Union to mandate that all smartphones utilize the same USB-C charging standard. The majority of modern Android phones already use USB-C cables so this change will mostly impact Apple who has been slow to adopt this format. Anatel is leading the charge on this front and is looking to implement a USB-C policy for devices by July 1, 2024. 

The European Union has already made its move as it “will require all mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices to have a USB-C charging port by the end of 2024.” Lawmakers in the EU were frustrated at the smartphone industry moving at a snail’s pace in finding a compromise so they decided to make a move instead.  

Outliers

Although the EU is moving forward with a USB-C, things are different with the United Kingdom and the United States.

The UK in particular, will not be demanding Apple to adopt a one charging standard and doesn’t have any plans to change this opinion any time soon. With the United States, neither party has taken to establishing a universal charging standard. There are some senators in Congress pushing for a USB-C standard but nothing beyond that.

It’s entirely possible that customers in the UK and US will have a different standard than the EU and Brazil if the latter decides to go through with its USB-C charger promises. But at the same time, it’s also possible Apple could just give in and embrace USB-C for future devices instead of having to create two different iPhones with different charging standards for different countries. 

The second option sounds like a giant manufacturing hassle for Apple. At this point, we’ll just have to wait and see how Apple responds. Brazil will allow the company to appeal its decision, according to the announcement.

By Cesar Cadenas

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