EU rules to enforce USB-C chargers for all phones – News Couple
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EU rules to enforce USB-C chargers for all phones


Technology reporter: Christina Creedel

Manufacturers will have to create a global charging solution for phones and small electronic devices, under a new rule proposed by the European Commission (EC).

The goal is to reduce waste by encouraging consumers to reuse existing chargers when purchasing a new device. The proposal said that all smartphones sold in the EU should have USB-C chargers. Apple warned that such a move would hurt innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones that use a dedicated charging port, with its iPhone series using an Apple-made “Lightning” connector.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating only one type of connector stifles rather than encourages innovation, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” the company told the BBC.

It added that it aims to make every Apple device and its use carbon neutral by 2030. Most Android phones come with USB micro-B charging ports, or have already transitioned to the more modern USB-C standard.

New models of iPad and MacBook use USB-C charging ports, as do high-end phone models from popular Android manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei.

The changes will apply to the charging port on the body of the device, while the end of the cable connected to the socket can be USB-C or USB-A.

About half of the chargers sold with cell phones in the EU in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29% had a USB C connector and 21% a Lightning connector, according to a 2019 Commission impact assessment study.

The proposed rules will apply to:

  • smart phones
  • Tablets
  • cameras
  • headphones
  • Portable Speakers
  • Portable video game consoles

Other products including earphones, smartwatches and fitness trackers have not been considered for technical reasons related to size and conditions of use.

The proposal also sets standards for fast charging speeds – meaning that devices capable of fast charging will be charged at the same speeds.

waste prevention

EU politicians have been campaigning for a common standard for more than a decade, with Commission research estimating that discarded and unused charging cables generate more than 11,000 tons of waste annually.

In the European Union, about 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold last year.

The average person owns about three mobile phone chargers, two of which they use regularly.

In 2009 there were over 30 different chargers, while most models now stick to three – USB-C, Lightning, and USB micro-B.

“Having a single common shipping standard would be a victory for common sense in the eyes of consumers,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight.

“Although Apple has made a strong case to keep its own Lightning connector, given the 1 billion active iPhone users, some of its products including Mac and iPad now support USB-C.

“Hopefully, it will eventually become an issue if Apple continues to add USB-C to more devices.”

It may be several years before the proposals take effect.

The legislative proposal, known as the Directive, will be debated by the European Parliament and national governments.

MEPs and Member States may propose amendments to the proposal. Once the European Commission approves these amendments, the directive will be enacted.

The European Commission hopes that will happen in 2022 – after which member states usually have two years to enact the rules in national law, and manufacturers will have 24 months to change their shipping ports.

“We’ve given the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, and now it’s time to take legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our customers and our environment and is in line with our green and digital ambitions,” said Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the Commission.



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