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Apple, other phone makers agree on standard charger for Europe

post #1 of 198
Thread Starter 
Apple is among a list of top handset makers who have agreed to support a European Union-backed initiative on standardizing phone chargers across the continent, which should benefit both consumers and the environment.

More specifically, the deal will see companies including Apple, Nokia and Research in Motion, develop handsets that can be charged by a standard micro-USB socket, ensuring that each phone is compatible with a standard type of phone charger.

The move aims to cut back on the thousands of tons of waste that results from discarded phone accessories in Europe each year, according to EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. "People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone," he said.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the initiative should also lead to cost savings for companies and end-users down the line. That's because phone makers have also agreed to stop including chargers with their new handsets in Europe once the new micro-USB chargers become commonplace. Anyone who needs a new charger after this time will be able to purchase it separately.

The agreement, which applies only to data-enabled smartphones at this time, appears to support a broader initiative by the GSM Association to develop a universal micro-USB charging solution that would appear by January 1, 2012.

The GSMA says these chargers would boast a 4-star or higher efficiency rating in order to be three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger and consume 50% less stand-by energy. It estimates that greenhouse gas will be reduced by 13.6 - 21.8 million metric tons as the replacement rate for existing chargers decreases.

In total, this week's agreement was signed by 10 companies, who combine to represent 90% of the European phone market. Other adopters include Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

Given that the Dock Connector has long been Apple's standard on iPods and iPhones, and is now also vital to the iPhone 3.0 third-party accessories strategy, the company is likely to comply with the initiative by including a micro-USB adapter with iPhones sold in Europe.
post #2 of 198
Companies should do this here in North America.

P.S. First post!

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post #3 of 198
Interesting - I think the adaptor is the only solution, presumably it will mean that an iPhone can charge via one of the standard cables, whilst you would need the Apple connector to sync?
post #4 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

Companies should do this here in North America.

P.S. First post!

Well here's your cookie

great so everyones just gunna make silly adaptors so there phone can be compatable with mini USB. Who has stakes in mini USB. Are they made in Europe or something.
post #5 of 198
Quote:
Given that the Dock Connector has long been Apple's standard on iPods and iPhones, and is now also vital to the iPhone 3.0 third-party accessories strategy, the company is likely to comply with the initiative by including a micro-USB adapter with iPhones sold in Europe.

I interpret it to mean that Apple will include a Dock-to-micro USB cable in the future, instead of the now-issued Dock-to-fullsized USB cable. Future iPhone cube chargers will have the micro connector, and the kit will include a full-to-micro USB adapter to connect to computers (and/or future Apple computers will include a micro USB connector).

What always galls me with these connectors is how the groups who create them rarely deploy any future-thinking when they set the standard. Why didn't they settle on the Micro format in the first place? Who had the brilliant idea of changing the Firewire connector from 400 to 800? (Or why didn't they anticipate the need for extra contacts in the first place?) At least the Apple Dock connector included spare pins for future technologies.
post #6 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by btitusjr View Post

Well here's your cookie

great so everyones just gunna make silly adaptors so there phone can be compatable with mini USB. Who has stakes in mini USB. Are they made in Europe or something.

The USB-IF is made up of mostly American companies and the connectors are probably made in the Far East.

I can't say I like the choice of plug though, the mini-USB connector always looks like it should go two more mm in, but it doesn't.
post #7 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I interpret it to mean that Apple will include a Dock-to-micro USB cable in the future, instead of the now-issued Dock-to-fullsized USB cable. Future iPhone cube chargers will have the micro connector, and the kit will include a full-to-micro USB adapter to connect to computers (and/or future Apple computers will include a micro USB connector).

What always galls me with these connectors is how the groups who create them rarely deploy any future-thinking when they set the standard. Why didn't they settle on the Micro format in the first place? Who had the brilliant idea of changing the Firewire connector from 400 to 800? (Or why didn't they anticipate the need for extra contacts in the first place?) At least the Apple Dock connector included spare pins for future technologies.

But that wouldn't meet the standard. To put it simply, the microusb would be on the wrong end of the cable. The micro usb has to be plugging into the phone, not into the charger. I agree with AI that an adaptor is most plausible.
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post #8 of 198
How about future iPhones having a micro USB port next to the iPod port on the bottom? Adapters are so easy to lose.
post #9 of 198
"Nokia powering up self-charging cell phone"

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10267006-1.html

Lets eliminate the chargers all together.

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post #10 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by btitusjr View Post

Well here's your cookie

great so everyones just gunna make silly adaptors so there phone can be compatable with mini USB. Who has stakes in mini USB. Are they made in Europe or something.

And? The point is that people avoid needless power adaptors, which are much more harmful to the environment. Having a plug adaptor is much much better carrying around multiple power packs.

What a moron.
post #11 of 198
All Apple need to do is include an adaptor which has a Female mini usb on one side and dock connector on the other. Then just pack it in with a mini usb cable. This way you can use the adaptor with any compatible mini usb charger.

post #12 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by btitusjr View Post

Well here's your cookie

great so everyones just gunna make silly adaptors so there phone can be compatable with mini USB. Who has stakes in mini USB. Are they made in Europe or something.

How do you allow people to keep using their old chargers without agreeing on some kind of standard?

But I guess your argument is that if people wanted standardized chargers they would have bought only phones which have them already. In other words, every problem will be solved by the free market. And if it is not solved, it by definition is not a problem. Market failure simply does not exist.
post #13 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

But that wouldn't meet the standard. To put it simply, the microusb would be on the wrong end of the cable. The micro usb has to be plugging into the phone, not into the charger. I agree with AI that an adaptor is most plausible.

I guess I assumed that everyone would adopt the iPhone's charging configuration by supplying a phone-specific cable with the micro USB connector at one end, and plug that into a cable-less power cube. In other words, separate the cable from the brick.

But if Apple has to include a female USB port for the cable to plug into, they could create a Micro USB-to-Dock adapter*, or piggy-back the USB port onto the far side (non-pin side) of their Dock cable connector.

I really don't see Apple including a separate Micro USB connector on the iPod or iPhone themselves. That would violate their simplicity design edict, and needlessly duplicate some of the functionality of the Dock connector itself. Also, motherboard and external case real estate is precious on handheld devices. Why waste it on a port whose only function is charging the battery.

Ultimately, I see Apple incorporating a wireless charger system, in addition to the Dock fall-back. Let Palm work the kinks out first, and hopefully a wireless charging standard will likewise emerge that all devices can share.


* Edit: #11 posted that as well while I was composing.
post #14 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

And? The point is that people avoid needless power adaptors, which are much more harmful to the environment. Having a plug adaptor is much much better carrying around multiple power packs.

So currently you have 1 plug for your iPhone and iPod but now you'll have the super-duper awesome ability to use another adapter to power your iPhone but don't try to use it plug into your computer becasue the bandwidth is @ss - yeah, brilliant...

This standard might be good for everybody else but when the iPhone uses the exact same cord as the iPod and thus there are 100's of millions of them and you can get a cord for it anywhere and not to mention the data capabilities are crap, umm, yeah. Maybe a win for everybody else but certainly just a waste for Apple - my iPhone doesn't need a half-capable charging only port on it...
post #15 of 198
My understanding is that Apple complies with the rules today; the rules appear to refer to the charger itself, not the cable from the charger to the device.

That said why do Apple use the appleconnector? After several generations of iPods and iPhones connected to 4 wire USB it does not appear to be very likely that there really is much immediate need for this expandability.
post #16 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Jarse View Post

Interesting - I think the adaptor is the only solution, presumably it will mean that an iPhone can charge via one of the standard cables, whilst you would need the Apple connector to sync?

There's no reason you shouldn't be able to sync with the same cable you use to charge. I do that all the time with my Mophie Juice Pack Air, which has a micro USB connector on it.

I just hope they don't do away with the dock connector or else a lot of accessories will be useless, including my Alpine car stereo iPod adapter. With Apple's track record for frequent obsolescence of features, I wouldn't put it past them to do that.
post #17 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

What always galls me with these connectors is how the groups who create them rarely deploy any future-thinking when they set the standard.

Perfect hindsight is difficult to acquire before the act.
Quote:
Who had the brilliant idea of changing the Firewire connector from 400 to 800?

There are quite a lot of reports of inserting a FW400 plug the wrong way into the connector, thus connecting the power pins with the data lines and consequently frying something along the data path. I have seen it myself, once somebody forces a FW400 plug the wrong way in, no extra force is needed a second time (thus easily frying a second device). The FW800 connector is much more foolproof in this respect.
post #18 of 198
To be clear, to all those who keep saying Mini USB are incorrect. This story is refering to the Micro USB connector. I recently got a blackberry with a Micro USB charger, and while I was initially annoyed that all my old chargers were obselete, I did like the size of the Micro USB connector, and then I found $2 adaptors onlne so I could use all the Mini USB chargers and data cables I have accumlated over the years. I think from an environmental standpoint this is a great move, and I hope to see this extend to standard cellphones and eventually to the USA as well.
post #19 of 198
Have you seen how small the the charger is on the 3G S? That is the tiniest charger I have ever seen. The problem the EU is addressing is that chargers are thrown into land fills along with the phone. In the case of iPhone, I don't think many are going to be thrown away because they make pretty decent WiFi and iPod devices even after they are replaced with a new phone.

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post #20 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

All Apple need to do is include an adaptor which has a Female mini usb on one side and dock connector on the other. Then just pack it in with a mini usb cable. This way you can use the adaptor with any compatible mini usb charger.

But they might want to include a USB to miniUSB cable with their charger for it to be usable with other phones (I already use it like this).
post #21 of 198
This is great news! I had expressed this as a concern about Apple because every phone and even earpiece we own and use charges via microUSB. Every phone maker I know is switching over to this standard. The agreement does not stop Apple from adding the dock connector, just makes it possible to charge your phone via microUSB as well. If you are out with your iPhoneGS using your turn by turn GPS and your battery runs down, you can run into a gas station and buy a standard 12 volt microUSB car charger and keep running on down the road.

I had recommended they put the microUSB on the top of the iPhone and the dock connector on the bottom. No matter what they do, it is good news in my view.

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post #22 of 198
Yay for my EU! This is great news - I don't know how many of these suckers are in my house. We need more bold moves like these. Time to get innovation starting.
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post #23 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Have you seen how small the the charger is on the 3G S? That is the tiniest charger I have ever seen. The problem the EU is addressing is that chargers are thrown into land fills along with the phone. In the case of iPhone, I don't think many are going to be thrown away because they make pretty decent WiFi and iPod devices even after they are replaced with a new phone.

Yes, Apple is already pretty standardized. Nevertheless, at some point an iPod or iPhone will break down and not being worth repairing or its resale value will drop to zero but the charger will still be fine. Unless you sell or give away your Apple devices before they come completely obsolete, you are bound to accumulate those chargers eventually.
post #24 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

If you are out with your iPhoneGS using your turn by turn GPS and your battery runs down, you can run into a gas station and buy a standard 12 volt microUSB car charger and keep running on down the road.

So to limit the number of chargers that end up in land fills we will sell them cheap on every corner?

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post #25 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

There are quite a lot of reports of inserting a FW400 plug the wrong way into the connector, thus connecting the power pins with the data lines and consequently frying something along the data path. I have seen it myself, once somebody forces a FW400 plug the wrong way in, no extra force is needed a second time (thus easily frying a second device). The FW800 connector is much more foolproof in this respect.

I agree that the FW400 connector wasn't quite 'directional' enough to prevent this, although I can't imagine forcing one in that way (unless the build tolerances were so sloppy that it allowed it with little pressure).

The FW800 connector, on the other hand, is a pain in the ass. I defy anyone to reach around and plug one in blind. Hell, when everything is colored black and the lighting sub-optimal, I have a hard time getting it right even if the port is facing me. If they're going to supersede FW400 and throw out the connector, at least design a replacement that inserts easily.

At least Ethernet survived all the upgrades using the same connector. But alas, that's coming to an end after 10G (which is pushing the limits of RJ-45 as it is).

I want a single tiny fibre-optic sexless connector for all data in the future. Plug it in anywhere, and let the device sort it out. Network, peripheral, A/V, storage...
post #26 of 198
I'm all for standardisation in cases like this, and all for regulation in order that it is achieved as quickly as possible. However I do think that they've standardised the wrong end of the cable here. Why not standardise on a power brick with a standard-sized USB connector on it, and have every phone which doesn't employ a micro-USB connector on the phone itself (which should be recommended but not compulsory) include a cable ending with a stndard USB connector?

That way you can still have the benefits of a more capable connector like the iPhones, but have the other benefits such as being able to plug any device into either a USB charger (lots of these around already) or a computer, or indeed anything else with a standard sized USB connector?

Then we would see, for example, cars coming out with rows of USB connectors in them which you could connect your phone or iPod or camera or whatever into for charging and accessing services. I don't think a micro-USB connector is entirely practical for that type of application because it's just too small and fiddly. So I applaud the idea but I think the detail of how its achieved is basically wrong.
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post #27 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

So, in summary, you're an idiot.

Watch it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBum View Post

I just hope they don't do away with the dock connector or else a lot of accessories will be useless, including my Alpine car stereo iPod adapter. With Apple's track record for frequent obsolescence of features, I wouldn't put it past them to do that.

I dont think that will happen based on this initiative. What I do find a bit funny is that Apple will have to ship an additional adapter to apply to this motion to reduce adapters. I suppose they could also forego the wall charger being included but seems like something you do later on after the 30-pin-to-Micor-USB adapter solution is well placed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

I had recommended they put the microUSB on the top of the iPhone and the dock connector on the bottom. No matter what they do, it is good news in my view.

The EU finally didnt something with tech that makes sense.
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post #28 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by btitusjr View Post

Well here's your cookie

great so everyones just gunna make silly adaptors so there phone can be compatable with mini USB. Who has stakes in mini USB. Are they made in Europe or something.

How about taking a minute to look it up rather than airing such poor assumptions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

"Nokia powering up self-charging cell phone"

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10267006-1.html

Lets eliminate the chargers all together.

It's still weak, I would think it needs a few years of work yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

How do you allow people to keep using their old chargers without agreeing on some kind of standard?

How about just not changing the connectors every generation of products and having different connectors for different model lines? Somehow, Apple has managed to make their dock connector work for three generations of phones and five generations of iPods, two of Touch and several of nano. There were a couple hiccups, such as killing Firewire charging (not sure why they did that), but they did offer a couple years transition away from Firewire charging, I wish the communication between Apple and accessory makers was better about that, it sounds like Belkin, etc. were caught unaware of the new guidelines.

The cables and adapters can and do get lost on occasion, so old cables can still be pretty useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

There are quite a lot of reports of inserting a FW400 plug the wrong way into the connector, thus connecting the power pins with the data lines and consequently frying something along the data path. I have seen it myself, once somebody forces a FW400 plug the wrong way in, no extra force is needed a second time (thus easily frying a second device). The FW800 connector is much more foolproof in this respect.

If that's true, to me, that sounds like the someone was trying to be dumb. Really, forcing Firewire in backwards means that someone is more willing to brute force it than think for five seconds and try it the other way. Those people should not be allowed to use electronics. Making things idiot proof doesn't work, because there will always be an arms race between idiot proofing and making idiots that can manage to bypass idiot proofing.
post #29 of 198
I'm all for standardization (well, intelligent standardization), but I already see how this can be subverted. The Micro USB connector is fine for small, handheld devices, but what happens with something that uses a bit more power? Netbooks, portable DVD players (as long as people continue to use discs), portable hard drives... what do these devices use? I'm guessing/hoping that the full-sized USB power port becomes as commonplace as the anachronistic auto cigarette lighter socket, namely at each seat position in a car and airplane, at library and hotspot tables, in hotels, etc. If this happens, the cancerous Sony Wall-Wart Disease may finally become a thing of the past.
post #30 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

So currently you have 1 plug for your iPhone and iPod but now you'll have the super-duper awesome ability to use another adapter to power your iPhone but don't try to use it plug into your computer becasue the bandwidth is @ss - yeah, brilliant...

This standard might be good for everybody else but when the iPhone uses the exact same cord as the iPod and thus there are 100's of millions of them and you can get a cord for it anywhere and not to mention the data capabilities are crap, umm, yeah. Maybe a win for everybody else but certainly just a waste for Apple - my iPhone doesn't need a half-capable charging only port on it...

Wait, what crap data bandwidth? Doesn't Micro USB use the same USB signaling that's in the dock connector? Besides, it's not as if iPod/Phone transfer speeds are blowing anyone's socks off yet.
post #31 of 198
This is good news, and I hope they extend it to non-smart phones, too.

I also hope the agreement covers more than just the physical port. My current phone uses micro-USB, but it will only charge if you've plugged in an "approved" charger (ie, one purchased from the phone manufacturer). So I can't simply plug it into the USB port on my computer or use another phone's micro-USB charger. So hopefully they put an end to that practice, too!

As far as dock adaptors, I don't know if they still do, but several years ago someone sold dock-to-FW and dock-to-USB adaptors to allow you to use any FW or USB cord to charge your iPod, instead of Apple's special cable with a dock connector on one end. They were small and relatively cheap, and I'm assuming making a micro-USB version would be trivial.

That said, even though it would be against the Apple design standard, I'd prefer they add a micro-USB port. That way I can recharge while using the dock for something else.
post #32 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

How do you allow people to keep using their old chargers without agreeing on some kind of standard?

But I guess your argument is that if people wanted standardized chargers they would have bought only phones which have them already. In other words, every problem will be solved by the free market. And if it is not solved, it by definition is not a problem. Market failure simply does not exist.

I think his argument is that instead of making phones that have direct connections to this Micro USB, a bunch of companies (at least in the mean time, and at least for Apple in that matter) will just make adapters to Micro USB that will be this intermediary and THAT will end up going to the landfill. Technology changes so rapidly, who's to say that Micro USB will (or should) be the standard for the next X amount of years.

And to agree with another poster above, Apple already has a pretty standardized charger/data transfer system and millions of iPhones and iPods that share the same charge cables. I currently use my charger/cord from my old iPod to connect to the dock for my iPhone. So you see, that already saved one tree (joking, of course).

What he's also trying to suggest is why Micro USB. Why not proprietary Apple connectors or whatever. Or something else. As much as they're trying to save the environment, what will probably happen is Micro USB charger manufacturers and their investors will benefit from this in the short term, and then they'll realize later that Micro USB will be obsolete and that something else will be necessary and better. And then, there you go. Millions if not a billion Micro USB cords/chargers straight to the landfill.

If you want to save the environment, do it with the basics - paper, plastic, glass, metal. Planting trees and alternative energy. Not technology. Maybe through power consumption and the manufacturing process, but not with the actual product. It just doesn't work that way.

And what's with the rest of your comment? How are people to buy a 'standardized' charger when the standard isn't set yet outside of Apple? And that economics jargon is going nowhere, it's not even what he was talking about. Not every problem will be solved by the free market, at least in a timely fashion, and by that time the would-be standard will have already been replaced by another set of possibilities, because the turnover for technology, especially in mobile phones, is high. Mobile phones are an outlier because of the factor of size, form, and the amount of companies currently producing mobile phones. The standardization would limit innovation in the technology of mobile phones, and for mobile phones, innovation is essential. Market failure IS possible. And just because a problem isn't solved doesn't mean it's not a problem. You're neglecting the factor of time. Your logic and view of economics is skewed.
post #33 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

Yes, Apple is already pretty standardized. Nevertheless, at some point an iPod or iPhone will break down and not being worth repairing or its resale value will drop to zero but the charger will still be fine. Unless you sell or give away your Apple devices before they come completely obsolete, you are bound to accumulate those chargers eventually.

When I pay for a new iPhone I definitely want a shiny new charger as well. Proper disposal of electronics is something that people need to do regardless of how small it is. We have a company that comes to the office several times a year to pick up our discarded computers, printers, monitors etc. They even accept other appliances as well. There are also local community organizations that accept used cell phones for charitable fund raising.

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post #34 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by btitusjr View Post

Well here's your cookie

Chocolate chip, please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I guess I assumed that everyone would adopt the iPhone's charging configuration by supplying a phone-specific cable with the micro USB connector at one end, and plug that into a cable-less power cube. In other words, separate the cable from the brick.

Whether USB, miniUSB or microUSB, whatever the "standard" becomes here in the States (or around the world), separating the cable from the brick makes a lot sense and should go far to reduce waste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

Maybe a win for everybody else but certainly just a waste for Apple - my iPhone doesn't need a half-capable charging only port on it...

The EU standard may not make its way here, but whatever standard gets adopted (if one is ever adopted, and I hope one is eventually) I'm sure Apple (and other manufacturers) will do everything they can to make sure the new standard is backwards compatible. And when this can't be done, surely low-priced adapter solutions will quickly fill the gaps.

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post #35 of 198
Why is AI dragging their feet on the obvious 3GS overheating issues. Now there is a story.

A decision on a standardized charger is not THAT newsworthy.
post #36 of 198
What if this is the first initiative to get every portable device to only have the Micro-USB on the devices themselves? To eventually force Apple to remove the 30-pin connector in favour of just the Micro-USB connector on all their portable devices in the EU?
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post #37 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I guess I assumed that everyone would adopt the iPhone's charging configuration by supplying a phone-specific cable with the micro USB connector at one end, and plug that into a cable-less power cube. In other words, separate the cable from the brick.
.
.
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* Edit: #11 posted that as well while I was composing.

Adopting a phone specific cable doesn't make sense as it just shifts the problem from the charger to the cable. You still can't charge your phone if you don't have the right cable. A simple adaptor that has a male dock connector and a female micro usb port (like in post 11 that you identified) is exactly what I had in mind when I stated that I thought an adaptor is most plausible.

It makes sense because Apple doesn't like to duplicate functionality, it doesn't break compatibility with existing third party products, and Apple likes adaptors. Of course if you lose the adaptor, you are still out of luck, but I don't see Apple getting rid of the dock connector or adding a micro usb port to the iphone while keeping the dock connector (but who knows) anytime soon. I suspect that Apple will support the standard with an adaptor and almost everyone else will have micro usb support without the need for an adaptor right on the phone (after an initial transition period).
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post #38 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyokuro View Post

Why is AI dragging their feet on the obvious 3GS overheating issues. Now there is a story.

A decision on a standardized charger is not THAT newsworthy.


Hmm no overheating problems here, only over heating problems i have heard about are the Pre turning itself into something hot enough to iron shirts with, and discoloring the screen at the same time.

I stand corrected, and of course there's the guy that put his iphone under his pillow to listen to tunes as he fell asleep and got "burned" on his arm from it .. ok lol that's just Darwin at work!
post #39 of 198
This seems silly for Apple to participate unless they are licensing the iPod connector cable. Its very easy to charge an iPhone-- everywhere you go someone has an iPod cable.
post #40 of 198
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What if this is the first initiative to get every portable device to only have the Micro-USB on the devices themselves? To eventually force Apple to remove the 30-pin connector in favour of just the Micro-USB connector on all their portable devices in the EU?

Not only that - those european socialists will force Apple to stop selling OS-X!!!

Somehow I think the 30-pin connector will be with us for a pretty long time. It still has a number of unused pins left, and Apple will want some future expandability when it introduces its line of portable Tesla coils.
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