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EU proposes universal charger for smartphones and handheld devices

EU proposes universal charger for smartphones and handheld devices

EU proposes universal charger for smartphones and handheld devices

How much easier would life be if you could just have one charger for everything? No matter what make or model your phone, you could just borrow your friend's charger in an emergency or use your old one if you lose yours. Luckily, that dream could soon become a reality. 

European Commission pushes for universal charger

The European Commission has proposed a new rule that would enforce the use of a universally standard charger for smartphones throughout the EU. The new rule would make USB-C chargers the standard for all mobile phones and handheld devices, with the aim of reducing waste by allowing consumers the freedom to use existing chargers when buying a new device, or when a charging cable gets lost or broken.

The adoption of a single, common charger in Europe has long been considered and, in 2009, the Commission “facilitated a voluntary agreement by the industry,” which saw the number of mobile phone chargers on the market fall from 30 to just three. “We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition.

EU to scrap Apple’s lightning chargers

The new rule would enforce changes to the charging port on devices. More recent iPad and Macbook models already make use of USB-C charging ports, as do most new Android devices, so the change would mainly affect older Android devices, as well as Apple iPhones, which are charged using a lightning connector.

According to an impact assessment study by the European Commission, around 50 percent of the chargers that were sold together with mobile phones were USB micro-B connectors, 29 percent were USB-C and 21 percent were Lightning connectors.

The Commission’s proposals would see USB-C chargers take over as the only charger in use, and would apply to not only smartphones but tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and hand-held game consoles too. Other products, like earphones and smartwatches, are not included in the proposals, mainly due to their size and use.

Reducing plastic waste

Research from the Commission suggests that more than 11.000 tonnes of waste are generated every year due to charging cables that are either unused or thrown away. The adoption of one universal charging cable will also be more convenient for consumers, as well as increasing ease of use.

The proposal will be debated amongst the European Parliament and the governments of its member states. MEPs will be allowed to suggest amendments to the rule and once everything has been agreed upon, the rule will be enacted into law. The European Commission expects this to happen in 2022, after which a two-year transition period will be observed to “give industry ample time to adapt before the entry into application.”

Criticism from Apple

Apple has long stood against the reform, even opposing the proposal back in 2019. “Apple stands for innovation,” the international company stated in response to the proposal in 2019. “Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.”

Apple released a new statement earlier this week, stating that the proposed law would harm innovation: “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.” The company also added that it aims to make every Apple device carbon neutral by 2030.

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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