European Commission proposes standard charger for smartphones

European Commission proposes standard charger for smartphones

Have you ever broken or lost your iPhone charger? Course you have! Who hasn’t? We all know the pain of having to replace an iPhone charger; they cost loads of money and only seem to last about three weeks before breaking again. Luckily, that could all be about to change.

Universal charger proposed in European Union

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, has proposed a new rule that would enforce the use of a universally standard charger for smartphones throughout the bloc. 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.

USB-C to become standard for handheld devices

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.

Proposed law to be debated in EU parliament

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 increased 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 [the] industry ample time to adapt before the entry into application.”

Apple criticises “stifling of innovation”

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, once again emphasising 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.

This article first appeared on IamExpat in Germany.

William Nehra


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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