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posted by Dopefish on Saturday March 15 2014, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the one-plug-to-rule-them-all dept.
lhsi writes "Members of the European Parliament have backed a regulation for all smartphone devices to use a standardized charger, a Micro USB connector being the favored type (and one that is in use already).

The regulation is still only a draft law and must be approved by Europe's council of ministers. However, that body has already given its informal backing to the law, suggesting it will win final approval.

European member states will have until 2016 to translate the regulation into national laws and manufacturers will then have 12 months to switch to the new design

The reason for this regulation is both to help consumers and to cut down on electronic waste (51,000 tonnes annually)."

Related Stories

European Parliament Votes in Favor of Standardized Mobile Phone Chargers 33 comments

The European Parliament (EP) just voted 582 to 40 to require one standard for chargers for all mobile phones. The EP cited the goals of reducing both frustration and electronic waste. The next step would be for the European Commission to draft a law and vote on it in July. Currently most of the industry uses micro-USB and is slowly adopting USB-C, however there are also phones using other connectors.

From the European Parliament resolution on a common charger for mobile radio equipment (2019/2983(RSP)):

1. Strongly stresses that there is an urgent need for EU regulatory action to reduce electronic waste, empower consumers to make sustainable choices, and allow them to fully participate in an efficient and well-functioning internal market;

2. Calls on the Commission to present and publish without further delay the results of the impact assessment on the introduction of a common charger for mobile telephones and other compatible devices with a view to proposing mandatory provisions;

3. Emphasises the need for a standard for a common charger for mobile radio equipment to be adopted as a matter of urgency in order to avoid further internal market fragmentation;

4. Calls, therefore, on the Commission to take action to introduce the common charger without any further delay by adopting the delegated act supplementing Directive 2014/53/EU on radio equipment defining a standard for a common charger for mobile phones and other small and medium-sized radio equipment by July 2020, or, if necessary, by adopting a legislative measure by July 2020 at the latest;

Earlier on SN:
The Dream Of A Common Charger Is Alive, Despite Apple's Complaining (2020)
European MEPs Back Single Charger Standard (2014)


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by lhsi on Saturday March 15 2014, @12:46PM

    by lhsi (711) on Saturday March 15 2014, @12:46PM (#16822) Journal

    Both the original submission and the linked BBC article have "favoured" spelt correctly, but for some reason it was changed to the wrong spelling here. If the story was about the USA I'd understand localising it, but this one is about the EU, with one of the sources being a UK site. Has Soylent News stopped being an international site without me noticing?

    For a vague link to the story, does anyone know if these kind of regulations will affect all consumers, not just EU ones? Would companies have different connectors for non-EU markets and only use the regulated ones for EU customers? Or would they just standardise worldwide so they don't have to manufacture two variations of the same phone?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:09PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:09PM (#16826) Journal

      Would companies have different connectors for non-EU markets and only use the regulated ones for EU customers? Or would they just standardise worldwide so they don't have to manufacture two variations of the same phone?

      in the throat-cut mobile phone market competition, would it make much sense for a manufacturer to support the cost of double standards? After all, it is not the charger that makes a differentiator factor from the competition, is it?
      If the Texas Board of Education manages to push creationism US wide only by ordering the manuals it approves in bulk (so that the picked publishers can sell them at lower prices nation wide due higher quantity production), I imagine an entire Europe may cause the phone makers to finally drop their "specially designed plugholes" for the whole world.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Monday March 17 2014, @02:18PM

        by mojo chan (266) on Monday March 17 2014, @02:18PM (#17598)

        Don't hold your breath. They make a lot of money on proprietary cables and chargers, so it would be worth it to them to screw Americans if they can. Both the very high end (e.g. Apple) and very low end (e.g. Nokia) do it.

        --
        const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
    • (Score: 5, Funny) by maxwell demon on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:25PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:25PM (#16835) Journal

      Maybe it's an attempt at saving bandwidth on SoylentNews by omitting all letters which are not strictly needed. ;-)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15 2014, @02:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15 2014, @02:23PM (#16849)

      What the hell is a "tonne" ? I'm also pretty sure "spelt" isn't a word.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by janrinok on Saturday March 15 2014, @04:00PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 15 2014, @04:00PM (#16864) Journal

      As an editor, I suppose the easy answer is - it depends on how the editor's computer is configured. Mine is UK English and I would have passed the original article without any spelling changes. Also, I choose not to change US spelling to meet UK requirements in articles originating elsewhere. If the spelling is consistent and understandable in TFA then it is good to go in that respect. But if an editor has a US-configured computer where a word would show as a spelling mistake during the editing process, he or she might choose to change the spelling to avoid genuine mistakes slipping through. If you ignore one red-lined word intentionally you might ignore another by accident. There is no intention to Americanize the articles, as far as I am aware.

      I believe that your question was only partly serious, but it is a valid question nevertheless, and I decided to reply to let you and others know what (probably) happened. ;)

      --
      I am not interested in who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 1) by lhsi on Sunday March 16 2014, @08:55AM

        by lhsi (711) on Sunday March 16 2014, @08:55AM (#17129) Journal

        Thanks for taking the time to answer :-) I suspected that was what had happened. I was interested in getting an answer but was mostly being sarcastic asking. Maybe I should have used tried to see if this site supports this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 1) by captain normal on Saturday March 15 2014, @05:49PM

      by captain normal (2205) on Saturday March 15 2014, @05:49PM (#16887)

      Well the spell checker in my browser says favoured is not correct. Also same in FF and IE. Even though most folks would agree that either use is correct. This is probably a battle you should take up with MS, Mozilla or Google.

      --
      Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday March 15 2014, @07:04PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday March 15 2014, @07:04PM (#16901) Journal

        Well, if you installed a dictionary for British English, you'll be told it is OK. If you installed a dictionary for American English, you'll be told it's wrong. If you installed both, it depends which one is currently active.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by bd on Saturday March 15 2014, @06:57PM

      by bd (2773) on Saturday March 15 2014, @06:57PM (#16900)

      This is something I always considered confusing. Why are the British so offended when someone misspells the misspelled French words in their language? Is this some kind of secret love?

    • (Score: 1) by Hairyfeet on Sunday March 16 2014, @07:59AM

      by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday March 16 2014, @07:59AM (#17118) Journal

      They would probably standardize which honestly? Sucks. The reason why is obvious if you think about it, no new designs will be coming for quite awhile for fear of falling afoul and not being able to be sold in the EU.

      BTW those that don't like rants please move along, old Hairy is gonna vent...here is what REALLY pisses me off about crap like this, it all ends up going after the wrong target and making a WORSE mess than we had before!!! Take the banning of lead solder, what a giant fuck up that was! Things that would last a decade now last maybe 3 thanks to tin whiskers so you end up with MORE eWaste when the obvious and logical solution would have been to simply make the OEMs support local recycling and free drop off centers!

      Then we have THIS clusterfuck where 1.- They picked what has to be the wimpiest most easily busted connector design I've ever seen, don't know how many devices I've had to shitcan because of bad miniUSB meaning you can't charge the fucker, when your standard RTS jacks just go and go and if you want to cut down on the waste it ain't the jack that needs fixing its all the fucking devices with non replaceable batteries! Its sad when a $40 eCig from China (love those 510 eCigs BTW, 4 months cig free) has a simple, logical, trivially easy to replace battery that is completely standardized while a $250 tablet is a paperweight when the battery dies!

      While I'm all for cutting down waste if its one thing the solder fuckup should have taught us its these politicians couldn't find their ass with a GPS unit!

      --
      ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by iwoloschin on Saturday March 15 2014, @12:55PM

    by iwoloschin (3863) on Saturday March 15 2014, @12:55PM (#16825)

    The only thing Apple has done right with Lightning is make a non-polarized connector. There's nothing worse than trying to fit a trapezoidal plug into an "upside-down" trapezoidal hole.

    Of course, mandating wireless charging would work too.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday March 15 2014, @09:15PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday March 15 2014, @09:15PM (#16954) Journal

      I don't see what's wrong with a trapezoidal plug. Now the rectangular standard-size USB plug which looks symmetric but still fits only one way, that is annoying.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 1) by CluelessMoron on Saturday March 15 2014, @11:51PM

      by CluelessMoron (1374) on Saturday March 15 2014, @11:51PM (#16995)

      Actually it is polarized, but electronics in the plug itself reroutes the signals when you plug it in "upside down". So it doesn't matter how you plug it in. So yes, for the user it may as well seem non-polarized.

      I'm not a fan of Apple, but micro-USB is a pretty terrible connector, so it's a pity we're stuck with it for all our phones and other stuff.

  • (Score: 1) by Dunbal on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:10PM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:10PM (#16829)

    And just how is this supposed to cut down on "waste"? This would only happen if you bought phones without the charger and bought a single charger separately to use with all your devices. Reality is every device you buy comes with its charger, micro-USB or otherwise. This is just another stupid law created by stupid politicians who want to make people believe they are actually doing something useful. Because how can you be against "the environment"?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:30PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:30PM (#16836) Journal

      If all phones use the same charger then sooner or later phones will come without charger, because it can be expected that the buyer already has one, and not supplying one allows the seller to cut costs (either increasing the profit margin, or allowing to undercut the charger-supplying competition).

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by etherscythe on Saturday March 15 2014, @04:27PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Saturday March 15 2014, @04:27PM (#16867) Journal

        ...or more specifically, people will already have chargers built into their cars, their notebook power adapter will also have plugs for cellphones, and maybe even bedside lamps will come with this capability. Once the standard is finalized and widely used, it will create opportunities to add features into a wide variety of existing devices we have on hand already. The stand-alone wall-wart will become virtually obsolete.

        --
        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by blackest_k on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:43PM

      by blackest_k (2045) on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:43PM (#16841)

      having a common charger is useful usually someone in the 'office' will have a charger to fit your phone. I have no end of phone chargers from earlier phones that are no use to me anymore I guess I could throw them away luckily i find new homes for them eventually.

      my nokia chargers have been rehomed recently. Apple tends to be a pain as it seems to need different chargers for different versions of iPhone. At least 5 volts seems to be normal so its possible to have some simple adapters. At least while usb is around anyway.

      • (Score: 1) by PapayaSF on Saturday March 15 2014, @08:03PM

        by PapayaSF (1183) on Saturday March 15 2014, @08:03PM (#16931)

        Apple tends to be a pain as it seems to need different chargers for different versions of iPhone.

        Huh? Unless I am mistaken, since the first iPhone in 2007, all iPhones have used one of a grand total of two chargers. In fact, I think only the port has changed, and it's the same charger with a different cable. I'll bet that the last seven years of phones from (say) Samsung have used more types of chargers and ports than that.

        I do wonder about the details of this law. Would Apple be able to comply by simply including an adapter to fit EU standard plugs into Lightning ports?

    • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Sunday March 16 2014, @08:40AM

      by lhsi (711) on Sunday March 16 2014, @08:40AM (#17126) Journal
      Anecdotally, I had a phone charger break (it still worked but some wires were exposed and I have young kids so didn't want it lying around). Instead of needing to get a new one, I could use one that had the same connector from another device.

      We have a spare charger downstairs as everything uses the same one, so we have an extra location around the house of needed.

    • (Score: 1) by compro01 on Monday March 17 2014, @04:02AM

      by compro01 (2515) on Monday March 17 2014, @04:02AM (#17378)

      One charger included. But having a common charger means you won't need to buy a new car charger or a new spare one for at work, etc.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17 2014, @11:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17 2014, @11:07AM (#17508)

      Well Japan has kind of adopted a similar situation a few years ago

      Almost all cellphones sold there are operator-branded and they have an operator specific charging plug.

      So you have about 3 standard charger types.

      Phones are sold without charger, it's up to you to either get an AC or USB charger for your phone.
      Sometimes when you get a phone you can choose a bonus/freebie, usually a charger or instead a dangler/strap, etc

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:13PM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Saturday March 15 2014, @01:13PM (#16831) Homepage Journal

    In principle, the idea of having a single, standardized connector is good. Manufacturers (Apple, I'm looking at you) have deliberately exploited incompatibility to milk their customers of a few extra euros. Stupid, short-term thinking.

    However, this law will be an albatross in almost no time, as technology moves on. There are already plans for a symmetrical mini-USB connector, and in a couple of years, some other connector will make more sense.

    This law will likely still be forcing manufacturers to provide USB compatibility on our quantum nuetrino telephones in 2050, drastically raising manufacturing costs. Any attempt to change it will be met by massive resistance from lobbyists of the adapter-maker-union.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by umafuckitt on Saturday March 15 2014, @05:49PM

      by umafuckitt (20) on Saturday March 15 2014, @05:49PM (#16889)

      I think we're already close to a standard. Many devices nowadays have USB A wall chargers and a cable with mini-USB, micro-USB, or some Apple connector at the other end. We're already almost at the point where we can agree on the charger unit and only need to ship products with device-specific cables. The input port at the device may change, but adaptors can solve this. Heck, even Apple even make a tiny micro-USB to Lightening adaptor. If there is widespread adoption of a future symmetrical mini-USB that is more robust than the current micro-USB, then I reckon such an adaptor could stick around for a good while.

      As a side note, I bought a USB A to Nintendo 3DS cable a while ago. This way I can travel with one or two USB A wall adaptors and charge any device but my laptop.

    • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Saturday March 15 2014, @07:37PM

      by isostatic (365) on Saturday March 15 2014, @07:37PM (#16916) Journal

      In principle, the idea of having a single, standardized connector is good. Manufacturers (Apple, I'm looking at you) have deliberately exploited incompatibility to milk their customers of a few extra euros. Stupid, short-term thinking.

      Apple had one connector for 11 years across it's entire range. It moved wholesale to a far superior connector, better than anything on the market, 3 years before USB-C is likely to see the light of day. Their chargers come as a USB wart and a cable, the USB wart can be reused with any phone.

      During that time, other manufacturers moved through dozens of types. Even "USB" connectors come in an assortment of almost-but-not-quite-identical connectors.

      I recently moved house. One of my 2 lightning cables has gone missing (along with my slippers!), so I'm sharing it between ipad and phone. It charges from any usb outlet (even the ipad charges off my thinkpad, eventually), and I can easily walk into any shop and get a replacement cable.

      My wife's charger for her Samsung POS Android phone also went missing. I found 4 different wall-warts that had some form of USB connector on the back. One of them fit, seemed to charge the phone (it lit up), for a few seconds, but left overnight didn't charge the phone enough to turn on.

      I'm sorry, I'm not technically illiterate, but I really can't tell the difference between micro/mini-a/b, and some weird connector my satnav uses which looks like usb.

      The Raspberry Pi uses MicroUSB, it's a horrible connector. Aside from the fact it only goes in one way, it's very unreliable (I wish the Pi took POE)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16 2014, @07:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16 2014, @07:47PM (#17247)

      I agree, it seems to me the EU solved the bulk of the problem a few years back when they passed a non-binding revolution officially endorsing micro-USB as the standard. Within a few years even in the US most phones settled on the standard. Sure there's still a few holdouts, but the tech damage from an extended lock-in is likely to be an issue.

      On the other hand perhaps something like a limited-duration 5-year mandate would be effective: get everyone on the same page for a while so that afterwards the proprietary hacks have to break backwards compatibility in order to take things proprietary again.

    • (Score: 2) by mojo chan on Monday March 17 2014, @02:15PM

      by mojo chan (266) on Monday March 17 2014, @02:15PM (#17597)

      Fortunately the EU is better at writing rules than you assume. They are not mandating any particular USB connector, just one that is part of that or any future USB standards. For practical reasons most manufacturers will use micro USB, but they could chose full size USB if they wanted to. When the next generation of USB connectors come along they will also be acceptable. The most important aspect is not the connector though, it is the charging current negotiation.

      Apple devices won't charge at full rate unless they detect an Apple charger. Other manufacturers check what the charger says is available and then use voltage monitoring to determine the real maximum rate if the charger declines to give a specific number. It's a simple and if not ideal at least well established and tested system.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
  • (Score: 1) by linsane on Saturday March 15 2014, @03:39PM

    by linsane (633) on Saturday March 15 2014, @03:39PM (#16860)

    Hasn't this already been done in China (too lazy to Google) and no problems that I've heard of?

    Does it really need to be a law at all our would market forces just seem out the lowest cost option anyhow over time, that being the assumption the customer already has a charger. Apple of course continue to be Apple, and their customers are all a bit ... social...

  • (Score: 1) by ArghBlarg on Saturday March 15 2014, @09:05PM

    by ArghBlarg (1449) on Saturday March 15 2014, @09:05PM (#16951)

    I've gone through at least 6 micro-USB cables in the past 8 months. The connectors are just too damn fragile.. my wife has a Sony cell and I have an HTC; the micro-USB ports are in opposite orientations. I warn her about it constantly but all it takes is one upside-down insertion and... dead cable. The pins get shoved in with no easy way to fix them.

    I think standardizing on micro-USB as opposed to something more rugged like the old mini- variants is causing MORE garbage, not less, if my experience is typical. And I'm careful with my cables compared to most people I know!

    • (Score: 1) by cesarb on Saturday March 15 2014, @10:52PM

      by cesarb (1224) on Saturday March 15 2014, @10:52PM (#16984) Journal

      I believe the micro-USB standard was designed so that the fragile parts are all on the cable, so it breaks instead of the socket on the device. This way, you only have to replace the (cheap) cable instead of having to fix the (expensive) device.

      From what I have heard, the old mini-USB variants were weaker; they were rated for a smaller number of insertions. Which is why they were replaced. My (anecdotal) experience confirms it: the only device where I had to wiggle the cable to get a working connection was an older mini-USB one.

      • (Score: 1) by ArghBlarg on Thursday March 20 2014, @07:04PM

        by ArghBlarg (1449) on Thursday March 20 2014, @07:04PM (#19026)

        Really? That's what has usually happened to my cables.. they will end up with a pin (usually the rightmost one) flattened, so the cable will only work on some phones or tablets if you wiggle or push gently on the cable while inserted. If what you mean is that the device's plug is less likely to be damaged, sure, that seems to be my experience as well (which is good I guess). But I just find it annoying that the cables themselves die so easily from a backwards insertion.