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Universal Chargers Another Step Closer

David Gilbert


Universal Chargers Another Step Closer

Could this actually be about to happen? Could we finally be seeing a universal charging solution? With the slow progress this has seen so far, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves but a statement by the European Commission has brought welcome news.

“Following a mandate from the European Commission, the European Standardisation Bodies CEN-CENELEC and ETSI have now made available the harmonised standards needed for the manufacture of data-enabled mobile phones compatible with a new common charger,” a statement read. This means that standardisation, based on a micro USB format, could be coming - in the European Union at least - in the near future.

It has been over a year since we first heard of first heard of movement towards a universal charger becoming a possibility. In the EU, 14 phone companies have signed up for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and have all now been issued with the details of the micro USB standard. The following 14 companies have signed up: Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion (RIM), Samsung, SonyEricsson, TCT Mobile (ALCATEL mobile phones), Texas Instruments and Atmel.

The inclusion of Apple, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and RIM gives the MoU a real sense that a universal charger could actually happen sooner rather than later. The statement added that the first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market from 2010 onwards – which sounds ambitious but we like the optimism. The MoU foresees a future update in order to take into account innovation in technology and its possible uses.

The implementation of a universal charging standard would see up to a 50 percent reduction in power needs as well as a reported elimination of 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers clogging up homes around the world.

Source: European Commission


December 30, 2010, 6:34 pm

As unfashionable as it seems to be to praise Nokia, I think theyve got quite a good solution on the N8 and C7 where they support both their own proprietry charging solution AND micro USB. You might argue that they should focus on one charging solution but from what I understand the proprietry charger chargers faster than the microUSB (so good for people looking for a quick charge) and its always nice to have more than one option to charge if your stuck out of the house without a plug (and nokia chargers are everywhere it seems!)

Martin Daler

December 30, 2010, 7:17 pm

@Stelph The whole point of the exercise is to avoid the need for a new charger to be supplied with every phone. If Nokia go with both charging options doubtless people will expect a Nokia charger in the package, so negating the point of all this. Like you say, there are already Nokia chargers everywhere - we don't want any more of them! In taking this route Nokia are paying lip-service to the idea of a universal charger, complying with the letter of the regulations but circumventing the the spirit and indeed the purpose.


December 30, 2010, 7:32 pm

My wife's new HTC Desire and my Nokia N900 both have microUSB chargers - so we now share chargers when away. However a better solution would be inductive charging as standard...

Now if they can just standardise the size & voltage of phone batteries as well...I usually carry a spare battery for my phone and have done for years, just in case.


December 30, 2010, 7:50 pm

Why does it need to take so long to switch? I only have experience with HTCs and they were very quick to move from mini to micro USB.

The cynic in me sees this as a cost cutting exercise for manufacturers. Save a few bucks by not supplying a charger with your phone and then hit you with a fat premium to buy it separately.


December 30, 2010, 8:12 pm

I would love a universal standard (seeing as I have a drawer full of chargers!

What I don't get though is why the European Commission is taking an interest? Unless their plan is to sue any manufacturer who doesn't comply, or to charge some sort of royalty?


December 30, 2010, 8:29 pm

@rav: I wouldnt have thought so, since one charger (will) fit all only the gullible will buy the manufacturers chargers now, plus since all you get with phones now is the usb plug ones, every usb charger will instantly work on every device, apple to htc to nokia all you need is a micro usb sync cable and they are pennies, even the £1 car usb charges will work with all phones.


December 31, 2010, 12:02 am

"based on a micro USB format"

Does this mean that it isnt actually micro USB then?


December 31, 2010, 4:30 pm

Bloody hell. How many small steps do they need to take? I thought this was all decided already?

@Martin Daler: My N900 came with a microUSB mains charger and an adapter for connecting either of older Nokia charger models ( http://www.canmobile.bg/ima... ).


December 31, 2010, 5:11 pm

@Martin Daler - True, i hadnt thought of it like that, I suppose eventually when all phones have the same charger the issue of finding one that fits will be less}

@Kaurisol - Totally, induction charging for all devices would be amazing!

Denis iii

December 31, 2010, 9:17 pm

hold up.....apple are going to have a mini usb port on the iphone?


December 31, 2010, 11:37 pm

@Denis iii - last we heard it was expected to comply by bundling an adaptor. The iPod/iPhone accessory market is too big to drop the dock connector.


January 2, 2011, 5:20 pm

Please stop the yammering for universal inductive charging! Inductive charging, is not, and can never be, as efficient as wired charging. Inductive charging increases your carbon footprint but saves only a few seconds of effort. It's only a tiny amount of efficiency difference for one person, but there's an awful lot of mobile phone users out there...

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