One charger for all, have you ever looked for a charger and you got nothing in the result? Then now, it’s a time when you are going to have one solution for all of your problems. The EU wants every phone to have same charger.
In a proposal that could substantially change the smartphone industry, the European Commission has said that USB-C would become the standard across devices.
One charger for all, One nation, one charger.
The EU is now suggesting that the USB-C charger should be standard across all smart devices. This does include everything – including tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, handheld consoles and even smartwatches – reports the Independent.
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for a Europe fit for the digital age at the European Commission, said that the decision comes after tech companies failed to address the situation themselves.
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” she said in a statement.
Part of the suggestion is to separate the sale of charger and device. This is thought to reduce the amount of waste, as let’s be honest, we all have draws full of random wires for unknown electrical devices.
“We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions; now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions,” Vestager continued.
The biggest issue comes with Apple, whose lightning ports have become standard across all of their devices. The company has reportedly argued that regulators should focus on the plugs not the ports – but the EU looks to be jumping straight to the end of the cable.
Should the new proposal be moved forward, the European Parliament and Council will have to approve the legislation and should it pass, companies will have 24 months to alter their products.
Around half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the EU in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29% had a USB C connector and 21% a Lightning connector, a Commission impact assessment study in 2019 found.
Apple’s iPhones use an Apple made “Lightning” connector. Apple has criticised the proposals, saying they threaten to damage innovation.
The European Commission said “full interoperability is required on both sides of the cable: the electronic device and the external power supply”. The new regulations would ensure that is the case, it said.
The new proposals will have to be adopted by the European parliament and the council. If it gets through, manufacturers will be given 24 months to adapt before they are legally obliged to do so.
The proposals also require better information for customers about their devices when they buy them, such as details on how much power it uses and whether it supports fast charging.
The Bottom Line
Today, the Commission is proposing:
- A harmonised charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
- Harmonised fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
- Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes’ yearly.
- Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger. Combined with the other measures, this would help consumers limit the number of new chargers purchased and help them save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.
The revision of the Radio Equipment Directive is part the Commission’s broader action to address the sustainability of products, in particular electronics on the EU market, which will be the focus of a forthcoming proposal on sustainable products.