EU Set To Unveil Common Phone Charger Proposal

The European Union’s long and drawn out efforts to establish a common or universal phone chargers could be revealed this week.

Reuters reported that the the European Commission will on Thursday present a legislative proposal for a common charger for mobile phones, tablets and headphones.

It cited a person familiar with the matter as its source.

Agreed standard

This issue of a universal charger has been hanging around over a decade now, after the majority of smartphone manufacturers (including Apple) adopted the MicroUSB standard back in 2009.

The final micro-USB design charger was officially agreed in 2010 with ten mobile phone makers including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia, so that they could standardise their chargers for new models of smartphones coming into the market in 2011.

In 2014, the European Parliament gave its formal support for an universal charger for smartphones, tablets and other portable electronics.

Apple however had already introduced its 8 pin Lightning connector in September 2012 (with the iPhone 5) to save space on its previous 30 pin connector design.

And the iPad maker took advantage of a loophole in the European Union agreement (it was only a voluntary memorandum of understanding) to carry on using its Lightning connector.

Apple going it alone did not stop the EU from pressuring smartphone makers to standardise on one universal charger design to put an end to charger clutter, and reduce thousands of tons of electronic waste yearly from old chargers.

Apple opposition

But Apple has been the one manufacturer which has consistently cautioned against the renewed EU push for a common mobile charger.

Indeed in January 2020 Apple warned regulators that losing its Lightning port will add to e-waste mountain.

Apple also argued that regulation forcing connectors to conform to one type could deter innovation and annoy consumers.

It should be remembered that Apple phones and iPad continue to utilise the Lightning port.

Rival Android-based handsets on the other hand are charged using USB-C connectors.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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