Europe to Have One Charger for All Mobile Phones, Global Standard Next?

by: - Last updated on: March 14th, 2014

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  5. 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?