Back in December, last year, we told you that a universal laptop charger standard was in the cards for this year and now we’re hearing reports that the European Union wants to cut down electronic clutter by obliging OEMs to adopt an universal charger for mobile phones and tablets, as well. This way, you won’t have to ditch your previous charger whenever you buy a new one. And, to be frank, not all of us are that conscious and decide to recycle, so it all turns out to be electronic waste which puts in big danger our environment.

universal phone charger

The picture from above shows my personal “riches” that I’m about to recycle this weekend. For the last 5 years, it seems that I have managed to “collect” around 8 different chargers. And I’m sure that the average person has had at least 3 chargers since mobile phones have appeared. But this could change starting with 2017, as the European Union has voted in favor of a draft legislation which lists among the “essential requirements” of electrical devices approved by the EU a compatibility with “universal” chargers. According to a German MEP, this move will eliminate 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste:

The modernised Radio Equipment Directive is an efficient tool to prevent interference between different radio equipment devices. I am especially pleased that we agreed on the introduction of a common charger. This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually

The draft law was approved by an overwhelming majority of 550 votes to 12. It stipulates that the ability to work with common chargers will be an essential requirement for the making companies. Apparently, there’s already a proposed design for the upcoming universal charger and, as expected, it uses a Micro USB connector. The majority of mobile manufacturers, like Samsung and Nokia already use one, so the shift to an universal charger shouldn’t be that tedious.

Another obvious advantage of an universal mobile phone charger standard will be the fact that whenever your phone battery will go flat and you won’t be nowhere near home, you will just ask your friend or somebody else to help you out. And if we’ll see this turn into reality by 2017, then the move will extend to other parts of the world. However, there are voices which disagree with the move – Paul Nuttall, Ukip’s deputy leader, said the following:

This is a backwards step because imposing a single charger stifles innovation, curbs research, and may impose extra costs on the consumer. The alternative and better action is to encourage diversity, competition and greater development. The EU is hamstrung by the ideology of one-size-fits-all, be it economic policy, currency, fisheries policy and now even phone chargers. The UKIP alternative is to allow diversity to flourish and let the consumer, not the legislator or regulator decide.

I wonder if mister Nuttall currently owns an iPhone, because Apple’s charger and cables are known to be different than the rest. At the moment, according to estimates, there are around 30 different types of charger on the market, but manufacturers have two years at their disposal to get ready for the new restriction.

 
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  • Gerhard Mack

    Not entirely accurate. The Samsung GT-E1190 does not have either USB or a USB adapter cable in the box

  • GC

    I’m curious, does this legislation also mandate that these mobile charges now become an option and not a standard accessory included with the purchase of a Phone or Tablet? If it does not then this will do nothing to curb the problem of waste. If every purchase continues to include a charger then you haven’t done anything to curb the problem.

  • Jari Sundell

    Micro-USB (and USB in general) are really bad in terms of durability and user-friendliness (requires the right orientation to insert)… And basically forces us to rely on USB, while newer and better standards like thunderbolt (used on iphone) have come around.

    • stderr5150

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my lightning connector has a USB plug on the other side. ;-) Perhaps a loophole in this “universal charger” idea is that the “charger” is a separate device than the “cable”… which is fine by me. They sell USB wall plugs these days which do a good job eliminating the clutter.

  • Richard

    Hope they standardize on something similar to the iphone lightning connector rather than micro USB. lightning = durable and orientation-free

  • Edge

    Jari – So, again, please tell us why it is so horrible that someone with an android phone charger could recharge your iPhone for you after you burn through your battery playing Candy Crush or Flappy Birds? If you haven’t noticed, there is this new tech out there called USB 3.0 – which is not only interface compatible with USB 2.0, but also is quite a bit faster. Seen any iLink connectors lately?

  • Ryan Nicholl

    As much as this is annoying, the “solution” causes more damage than the problem.

    Innovation will cease since innovation is now prohibited.

    Way to go Europeans. And you say “Americans are stupid”. Right back at you assholes without brains.

    • Gabe Snooks

      Are you kidding me? Everything has already settled on 5v micro USB, except Apple. Innovation is not creating your own connector with some random voltage and amperage to force customers to buy your massively overpriced proprietary charger that is garbage the moment you buy something else. My 5v 2.1a micro usb charger charges all my devices. I have power outlets with usb charging ports on them… after 15-20 years the industry finally came to a consensus. Anything else is going backwards.

      Im guessing you swing with the crowd that uses the lightning connector.

      • Ryan Nicholl

        No, I do not. I use a nexus 5. Last time I checked, micro USB.

        But unfortunately, here’s the issue.

        You idiots want to to force other people to do things the way you want them done.

        I say that’s tyrannical and people like that almost deserve to be shot. (At the very least, electroshock therapy would be a good idea…)

        Fuck off and get out of my life assholes. Let me use whatever charger I want. If I want a 120 volt charger, I should be able to get one. And this applies to other people as well. FUCK OFF.

        Get over your damn selfishness and LEAVE OTHER PEOPLE FUCKING ALONE.

        There is no sense in this. You’re a bunch of fucking idiots. Yes I’ll repeat it, the majority IS STUPID.

        Now for don joe, this may SEEM like a good idea. But the fact is a lawyer does not do brain surgery. Nor does the majority do computer part manufacturing, so they shouldn’t be setting standards.

        So again, fuck off you assholes and idiots.

        • Tom

          Actually entities such as BSI and DS (organisations that make recommendations to government) collaborate with private companies and technical groups in order to reach concensus. Its takes time to find the standard but eventually we all agree. Imagine, without standards your computer would not be able to communicate with the same server that my computer is communicating with now and would wouldn’t be able to have this delightful conversation.

          • Ryan Nicholl

            Non sequitur. Standards and government mandated standards are two VERY different things.

            Unfortunately it seems you don’t know enough about IP, TCP, and HTTP to know this.

            Imagine if the government made HTML 1.0 a legal standard. There would be NO HTML 5, since it would illegal to not use HTML 1.0!

            Idiots. My computer can very well do without your damn standards. It works just fine doing what I tell it to, the way I tell it to.

          • AwareGrenadier

            Hi, the link you posted ends up being irrelevant, as most of your (scores?) are for software. This is more of a hardware issue, and if the government introduces a standard, it doesn’t directly prohibit improvements on said standard. Innovation is thereby not discouraged, which makes your scenario flop. Put it this way, if the government mandates that all screens must be LCD, perhaps we wouldn’t get some different, newer, more efficient type of screen, but what we would have is newer more efficient LCD screens. In other words, it’s better to have everyone improving on the same thing. You could also say that if the government had mandated the incandescent light bulb, we wouldn’t have the fluorescent bulb. What I would say in return is “not necessarily”.

          • Ryan Nicholl

            Point: I don’t need to be required by law to implement HTML in order to implement it.

          • Ryan Nicholl

            Untrue. GCC has non-standard features. It still works.
            I can do anything I want without standards.

          • thisisbeez

            Nobody called you names, if you look back, you’re the one who started flipping out and throwing big words in comments without actually knowing what it means. Calling this communism only proves that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Troll harder?.

        • Gabe Snooks

          Baaahahaha! Tyrannical? Electroshock? Wow, you sure are passionate about your non standard chargers! I think you need to put the whisky down before you post on the interwebs though.

          COMMON AND STANDARD CHARGERS FOR EVERYONE!!!

          • Ryan Nicholl

            I don’t use non standard chargers. Again, I’m micro usb.

            But I’m also able to see the /moral aspects/ and /utter stupidity/ of this.

            It’s a VERY BAD ATTITUIDE towards innovation. And it ends in ruin every time it’s tried. This is reminiscent of communism’s “trebby”.

            Also I’m not drunk. It’s more that I don’t care how I come across since I know I’m right, end of story. Call me an a**hole if you want, but I don’t give a s***.

          • Ryan Nicholl

            I recommended electro-shock as a half serious joke. Electroshock therapy can help with these kinds of delusional thought patterns and may even improve intelligence, but obviously we shouldn’t /force/ anyone to undergo that.

            Key word, /force/. Freedom my friends, is more valuable than life.

        • Luke

          Do you actually understand how technology works?

          You are aware that standardization drives innovation forward, right?

          Also, do you really think EU legislators are defining the standard themselves? They are requiring it by law, it is up to the industry to decide upon what it entails… why would the legislators bother to concern themselves with details they have no understanding of?

          You clearly have no understanding of this article’s subject, and have no reason to be angry other than your own ignorance.

          • Ryan Nicholl

            Ah. Standards drive innovation? No, untrue. They just make things more convenient IN THE SHORT TERM.

            My understanding. I’m fluent in C, C++ including 11, JavaScript, Linux Administration, and I use EMACS for god sake. Check my scorecard @ smarterer daht com slash r_p_nicholl

            before you launch any more ad honiem attacks.

            I scored a perfect score on the C++ test too (800).

            I’ve also made my own limited purpose application specific programming language.

          • Luke

            They make things more convenient, so that further innovation is more efficient. For example, without standards we wouldn’t have the internet we do today, and without that it’s impossible to even imagine all the innovations that would not exist…

            Your programming credentials have absolutely no bearing on this subject matter. They prove nothing. Though, bear in mind that all the languages you have listed are standardized and maintained by official bodies.

          • Mustang

            Good job getting all those merits, nothing fancy bout thm though. But still education is to be respected. Now all you got left is to educate yourself on how to debate, how to be polite, and yes how not to be arrogant and atleast read and understand other ppl’s point while giving out your point as well. I don’t blame you, maybe its your standard quality education that is limiting your thought process right?

            Trolls have way too much time, I still don’t navy them.

        • Jimbo

          I know very little about all this, although it sure sounds like a good idea to me.

          Regardless of whether you are right or wrong Ryan, I’ll bet your parents would be proud to read your post.

    • thisisbeez

      You are definitely not helping to prove that stereotype wrong, my friend.

      • Ryan Nicholl

        This is the divide between being right and thinking you are right.

        The world can believe the earth is flat, doesn’t make it true.