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Europe plans to make USB-C a common charging solution

by Mark Tyson on 24 September 2021, 10:11

Tags: European Commission, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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On Thursday, the European Commission announced that it had taken an important step to unify the electronics charger standard. Citing e-waste and consumer inconvenience as the biggest reasons behind the decision, the Commission's research suggested that consumers in Europe could save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases, with a unified electronics device charger standard in place.

The EC says that its voluntary approach to transitioning to the common charger standard using the USB Type-C connector has already had great results. In the last decade the policy has helped reduce the number of mobile phone charger connector types down from 30 to three (USB-C, Apple Lightning, and USB micro-B).

For someone in favour of this unified charger policy, there is more good news, as the EC's proposals cover not just smartphones but tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video game consoles. Some smartphone makers have already started to unbundle chargers from their devices, but this is going to be the form with the new EC rules. If every device you own, old and new, uses the same charger, then it shouldn't be a big problem for most people.

Another important part of Thursday's announcement is the proposed harmonization of fast charging tech. The EC hopes that its directive will "help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device." Lastly, the EC wants device makers to improve the information provided to consumers with regard to charging. Enhanced information will help consumers know if their existing charger will work with the new device, and if fast charging will work, and this info is estimated to save consumers a further €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

HEXUS reported on the draft law regarding a European smartphone charger standard back in January 2020. At the time, Apple was resisting any such pressure, and made it quite clear it didn't want to comply, as "regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole". According to the BBC, Apple is sticking to that story, though it continues to equip more and more of its devices with USB-C ports (except the iPhone line, so far).

The EC hopes that its proposed directive will be enacted in 2022, after which EU member states usually have two years to enact the rules, and manufacturers will be given two years to implement/comply - or their products won't be distributed in the EU.

"European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers," said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. "We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now the time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions."

HEXUS Forums :: 46 Comments

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To be fair, I prefer the Apple lightning connector to USB C as the centre of USB can snap out, especially when moomins try to stick the wrong charger in there, at least with lightning the bit that is most likely to break is the cable, which is cheaper and easier to swap than the port on a device..
Well, either way Apple have to adopt this or they should be fined.

If the lightning connector is so much better, Apple should licence it - at the going market rate.

Which is never going to Apple with Apple the ‘Green, we care about the environment’ company.
Trig;4301585']To be fair, I prefer the Apple lightning connector to USB C as the centre of USB can snap out, especially when moomins try to stick the wrong charger in there, at least with lightning the bit that is most likely to break is the cable, which is cheaper and easier to swap than the port on a device..

I have honestly never heard or seen anyone have the centre of a USB-C connector just “snapping out”, not that it can't happen but commenting on the incredible rarity that I, as an IT manager, have not seen/heard it happen. If someone is doing something that can make it snap out, they need to pay the numpty tax to get it fixed.

I am sure by 2024 Apple will transition to USB-C but if they don't, I would love to see Apple iPhone blocked in the EU simply to see how much chaos it will cause both economically, for Apple users and Apple themselves.
Can they legislate for the USB-IF to go back to the old naming scheme, the new one is so confusing .
Honestly, we all know why apple were complaining, it was purely about making sure iPhone users were locked into a propriety connector that Apple has full control of and (iirc) can charge manufacturers for compatible hardware etc.

I'm all for standardised connectors, and it's obvious that apple can do this when it benefits them, ie on the iPad Pro, macbooks etc. Not to mention the iPhone uses the same base chipset as the iPad mini which is usb c not lightning…

It's also kind of ironic about Apple saying they cut out the charger because ‘everyone has one’ and to be eco friendly (yeah yeah, we're not daft it was money driven) while simultaneously complaining about a proprietary cable meaning users need 2 types of cable if they have both an iPad air (or above) and an iPhone… but then they can sell 2 types of ‘spare’ cables instead of people sharing..

Now if they can legislate the actual plastic casing of a usb c cable being the same as well that would be great… some devices have recessed sockets and restrict what cables can fit etc.

Wouldn't mind some ‘better’ naming too.