Slow progress on common smartphone charger initiative may get extra EU push

Posted:
in iPhone
The European Commission is examining if it should push smartphone producers like Apple to collaborate on a single mobile phone charger that would work with all smartphones, due to an apparent lack of progress by vendors in moving towards creating a common charger.




A proposal first suggested a decade ago, the European Commission wants mobile device producers to use a single charger, one that would work regardless of the device connected to it. Up until now, it has been voluntary for companies to work on the problem, but Reuters reports EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is keen for progress to be made on the scheme.

"Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options," according to a response from Vestager to an EU lawmaker on August 1.

The Commission did get a collection of device vendors, including Apple, to agree to work on the initiative in 2009, with the view to harmonizing chargers for new smartphone models in 2011. After the initial memorandum of understanding expired in 2012, some of the companies signed letters of intent in 2013 and 2014, supposedly keeping the project alive.

The push for a single charger would benefit consumers as there would be less of a need to keep a variety of chargers on hand for the different devices they own. The Commission also believes switching to a single common charger would eliminate more than 51 thousand tons of electronic waste disposed by consumers every year.

In the decade since the agreement, there has arguably been some level of commonality between chargers, with many consisting of a USB port on a plug and a USB cable that connects to the device, which in many cases can be used by other hardware. There is, however, still a disparity between devices at the point where the accompanying cable connects to the smartphone, with Apple using Lightning while Android devices employ either microUSB or USB-C.

While it is likely Apple will continue to use Lightning as the connection on its iOS devices for some time, there is the possibility that the chargers for the next iPhone generation could have a USB-C port.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    I Hope Apple gives the middle finger to the EU.  Hopefully they remove the Lightning port within the next few years .
    jbdragonAvieshekviclauyycredgeminipa
  • Reply 2 of 27
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 324member
    Not sure other producers will be willing to raise standard for their chargers and Apple wont be willing to lower them.
    chaickaracerhomie3randominternetpersonpscooter63igohmmmredgeminipasteven n.jony0
  • Reply 3 of 27
    chaickachaicka Posts: 71member
    EU is getting too nosy. I will not want to downgrade to those cheapo high risk chargers where corners are cut so badly that puts we, consumers at risk. Look at the number of electrical-induced fires in my country due largely to those cheapo low quality chargers across diverse appliances, PMD, etc.

    EU, if u wanna do it, do it by raising the bar of all lower grade chargers to meet those of high standards like Apple's. Not the other way round!
    Avieshekredgeminipajony0
  • Reply 4 of 27
    adm1adm1 Posts: 871member
    chaicka said:
    EU is getting too nosy. I will not want to downgrade to those cheapo high risk chargers where corners are cut so badly that puts we, consumers at risk. Look at the number of electrical-induced fires in my country due largely to those cheapo low quality chargers across diverse appliances, PMD, etc.

    EU, if u wanna do it, do it by raising the bar of all lower grade chargers to meet those of high standards like Apple's. Not the other way round!
    the madness spouted on here sometimes is beyond comprehension. what has this got to do with "cheapo high risk chargers"!? you DO know it's possible to buy a "cheapo high risk charger" for iphone with a lightning connection too right? Your issue is to do with MFI certified products vs counterfeit or non-MFI certified stuff, this article is about harmonising the connection type; micro-usb, lightning, usb-c, etc. etc.

    the only logical outcome of this is usb-c at the moment.
    caladanianmuthuk_vanalingamigohmmmpascal007
  • Reply 5 of 27
    netmagenetmage Posts: 198member
    The chargers are already standardized and the data they quote is out of date. All chargers are USB today.

    In the near future, they may become USB-C except in the EU, where standardization won't allow improvement to the next generation of charging.

    Standardizing the syncing or charging cable is hardly an issue of waste - you just keep using it. And in today's world, the charger as well.
    Avieshekrandominternetpersonredgeminipa
  • Reply 6 of 27
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,466member
    frantisek said:
    Not sure other producers will be willing to raise standard for their chargers and Apple wont be willing to lower them.
    If it has CE stamped on it and complies with regulations, it isn't a question of raising or lowering standards but standardisation itself had more to do with connection than anything else.


    muthuk_vanalingampascal007
  • Reply 7 of 27
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 162member
    My first thought was that this is an example of how we have accepted far too much government overreach. I do think that government overreach is a serious problem, but I realised that doesn’t apply here. We have standards for electrical outlets and electrical voltages, gas supplied to appliances, etc. Each country’s standards create great benefits for the people.

    Though I think the EC’s condescending and parental attitude about this is annoying—“If you’re not going to choose to play with Jimmy nicely then I’m going to stand right here and make you!” It’s not the job of government to flaunt its authority and be a nanny. It’s there to serve the people with humility.
    edited August 7 Avieshekrandominternetperson
  • Reply 8 of 27
    croprcropr Posts: 815member
    frantisek said:
    Not sure other producers will be willing to raise standard for their chargers and Apple wont be willing to lower them.
    Apple uses USB-C for the Macbook, I don't consider the USB-C as a lowering standard if Apple would use it for the iPhone and iPad as well
    caladanianmuthuk_vanalingamigohmmmpascal007
  • Reply 9 of 27
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,781member
    Imagine if these company's went ahead of the EU plans and were now stuck as MicroUSB being the so called Standard. USB-C would be going no where on any phones. We would be stuck in a time warp, where tech no longer advances, all because of the F'in EU.

    It's not going to cut down on waste. Every device comes with a charger anyway. I can imagine the EU telling company's to make chargers Optional. You want a charger with your device, you have to buy it separately. Really, that would be the ONLY real way to cut down on some waste. Now you can use 1 charger for a number of devices. If you have a charger for each device, you have the same about of cable waste as always.

    I have my lightning cables. They work with all my iOS devices, and have for a number of years. As I upgrade my hardware, I'm still using those cables. So where's the waste? It's just more DUMB EU idea's.
    edited August 7 Avieshekredgeminipa
  • Reply 10 of 27
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,490member
    This initiative was well intentioned but doomed from the start. The worst possible thing the EU could do would be to establish a mandate for a universal charger with a common physical connector. I hate consumer waste as much as anyone but this is an area where evolutionary principles need to be allowed to do their thing to converge on a natural, market driven solution to the problem. Once you drive a stake in the ground with a mandate you are forever married to a solution that's frozen in time. Take a look at the main power connectors used outside of North America if you want to see the hideous result of a poorly selected "standard." The power cord connectors used in Europe are only huge, ugly, and clumsy, but the ones in UK and Singapore take the hideousness to unprecedented levels. How anyone could have desired such wonky abominations for everyday use is beyond me, but it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. The longer we can put it off and allow innovators to cull the bad attempts from the good ones, the better off we'll be. The Apple modular power bricks used for the iPad and MacBook are a step in the right direction and buy us more time to deal with the current state of wonkiness.


    randominternetpersonviclauyycpscooter63redgeminipa
  • Reply 11 of 27
    "common smartphone charger initiative" = Qi wireless standard - The iPhone 8/8Plus and X all support the common Qi wireless charging standard.
    Avieshek
  • Reply 12 of 27
    croprcropr Posts: 815member
    jbdragon said:
    Imagine if these company's went ahead of the EU plans and were now stuck as MicroUSB being the so called Standard. USB-C would be going no where on any phones. We would be stuck in a time warp, where tech no longer advances, all because of the F'in EU.

    It's not going to cut down on waste. Every device comes with a charger anyway. I can imagine the EU telling company's to make chargers Optional. You want a charger with your device, you have to buy it separately. Really, that would be the ONLY real way to cut down on some waste. Now you can use 1 charger for a number of devices. If you have a charger for each device, you have the same about of cable waste as always.

    I have my lightning cables. They work with all my iOS devices, and have for a number of years. As I upgrade my hardware, I'm still using those cables. So where's the waste? It's just more DUMB EU idea's.
    The EU has counted the number of fully functional chargers that are thrown away and wants to reduce this huge number.  If I loose my charger (happens from time to time) or if switch device,  it would be nice to reuse the charger of my old phone, which is not always the case (e.g. switching from Andorid to iOS or vice versa)).    So a single standard is welcome.  Maybe for your personal situation this is not needed, but globally this would reduce the waste.

    The EU does not want to impose a single standard but want to guide tall suppliers to evolve to a single standard, ans it us up to the suppliers to define which standard and how it should evolve over time. 

    USB-C is currently a good candidate.   Apple has no technical objections (it is used in the Macbook) but might have business objections, because it iOS peripheral business might be impacted.  We'll see what will happen

    caladanianmuthuk_vanalingampascal007
  • Reply 13 of 27
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 274member
    Me thinks the EU commission has too much time on its hands.
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 14 of 27
    The problem is easily solved. Stop bundling chargers with the products (just the USB-<whatever> cable) and let people decide if they want to buy a new one separately or just use what they have, that is: their current chargers, their TV, PC and car USB ports or whatever. Crazy...

    Many home video devices such as Bluray players used to come without an HDMI cable, people would just buy the HDMI cable they want: 50cm, 2m, 10m... Same thing for the stuff to be hooked on walls: just buy the proper screws and dowels depending on your walls. Seems simple.
    s.metcalf
  • Reply 15 of 27
    s.metcalfs.metcalf Posts: 855member
    I don't know if the phone industry is the problem as such more than just generally.  Think of all the small electrical devices that come with their own proprietary adapters with cord attached.  When the device fails, you're left with the charger collecting dust in some drawer.  Why can't my electric razor charge by USB?
    crowleycroprpscooter63pascal007
  • Reply 16 of 27
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,466member
    The EU charger problem was caused by manufacturers, not the EU.

    You need to go back to feature phone days when every manufacturer had its own unique charger.

    The problem was massive for consumers and the EU. Drawers full of unused chargers or going to landfill.

    The RoHs and WEEE directives put the environmental side into order and manufacturers were told in no uncertain terms that if they didn't change their ways, they would be forced to do so via legislation.

    Since then we have had a far easier time charging devices.

    No one is stifling anything or limiting the advance of technology, just putting some order into the situation.

    As for plugs, schuko is fine.
    igohmmmpascal007
  • Reply 17 of 27
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,443member
    s.metcalf said:
    I don't know if the phone industry is the problem as such more than just generally.  Think of all the small electrical devices that come with their own proprietary adapters with cord attached.  When the device fails, you're left with the charger collecting dust in some drawer.  Why can't my electric razor charge by USB?
    AppleRazor coming early 2019....
  • Reply 18 of 27
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,458member
    s.metcalf said:
    I don't know if the phone industry is the problem as such more than just generally.  Think of all the small electrical devices that come with their own proprietary adapters with cord attached.  When the device fails, you're left with the charger collecting dust in some drawer.  Why can't my electric razor charge by USB?
    Hear hear, anything drawing less than 100W should be being charged by USB.  Come on EU, do it properly!
    pascal007
  • Reply 19 of 27
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 101member
    chaicka said:
    EU is getting too nosy. I will not want to downgrade to those cheapo high risk chargers where corners are cut so badly that puts we, consumers at risk. Look at the number of electrical-induced fires in my country due largely to those cheapo low quality chargers across diverse appliances, PMD, etc.

    EU, if u wanna do it, do it by raising the bar of all lower grade chargers to meet those of high standards like Apple's. Not the other way round!
    What the h are you talking about?
    pascal007
  • Reply 20 of 27
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,863member
    My recollection is that the EU was pushing micro USB at the same time Apple was introducing Lightning. Fortunately, that didn't happen; micro USB continues to be a total shit show of a connector.

    I surmise that Apple already has a roadmap to either replace Lightning in the next few years in favor of USB Type C, or even to deprecate the physical port entirely in favor of wireless charging.
    StrangeDayspscooter63igohmmm
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