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EU: Call to introduce common charger for all mobile phones (europa.eu)
156 points by tosh 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 179 comments

Apple really dropped the ball on this and the argument they make (thing about all of the old accessories!) is pretty moot for the consumer.

I want all phone to standardise on USB-C. No adapter for Apple, no exception.

The point is not just about charging: accessory manufacturers have to develop 2 physical versions of their equipment, for Apple devices and for Android devices. This increases development and manufacturing costs and restricts the use of the accessory to a single system.

Having more USB-C accessories would also force Apple to increase compatibility with a broader range of accessories. For instance it's impossible to use an off-the-shelf USB drive and connect it to an iPhone to, say, dump pictures to it.

If the iPhone had a standard USB plug, it would be harder for Apple to ignore the perfectly reasonable expectation that plugging in a drive should allow you to do something useful with it.

Today the fact that lighting is not a common port means that you have to buy a 'special' USB drive with a lighting port and then have to find some app that takes advantage of it.

Apple intially exploited the loophole, which was ironically created to help them. But it was the EU that dropped the ball by letting them get away with it for so long. The entire saga is documented in the link below, which is probably best explained by this excerpt.

The EU's failure to regulate, in essence, provides Apple with an argument to keep their own solution.

For Apple, the common charger is a success story – of regulation avoided. For the next commission, it could serve as a cautioning tale on the limits of self-regulation.


The iPad is already moving to USB-C; it's very likely that Apple was already planning to move to USB-C for iPhone chargers within the next year or so (whether because they foresaw a change like this coming, because they felt it was the right thing to do, or just because they, too, want to reduce the number of different connections they have to deal with on the manufacturing side).

There are problems with USB-C, however—one of those being that some USB-C charger and cable combinations will simply fry your phone due to being wildly out of spec.

This potential for frying devices is a good indication that USB has become far too complex in the latest iteration. Maybe there is a net gain in splitting power and signaling into two separate connectors? Like, move power supply to a separate USB-A like port. USB-A has larger contact pads, anyway. The data lines on the port could then be used to negotiate a power profile.

I don't think this is a technical problem so much as it is a political one, on two levels: First, that the spec for USB-C was allowed to have so many variations that it's very hard to know what you're going to get if you plug a connector in (is it USB 3.1? 2.0? Does it support power delivery? At what amperage? Is it actually Thunderbolt 3? etc.), and second, that a fair number of just totally out-of-spec—and thus, essentially counterfeit—products are being (or at least have been) sold on Amazon and similar places for some time.

The EU simply told the manufacturers to agree on a single port or else they would have to regulate one. Apple ruined the party for everyone.

Well the rest of the phone manufacturers settled on mini usb followed by micro usb. Prior to that there were a ton of proprietary phone charger/data cables, so it did help some

The EU luckily didn't put their foot down so phones were allowed to progress from mini-usb over micro-usb to USB-C.

It definitely helped a lot (but Apple still kinda ruined it).

Yeah, I was thinking that getting stuck on micro-USB for an years or decades would have been a less than happy outcome.

Not quite sure what to think of USB-C yet. Certainly feels more mechanically solid than micro-USB, but subjectively, the plug connection seems a bit slippery. Cables seem to disconnect spontaneously more than they do with e.f. Lightning.

> Yeah, I was thinking that getting stuck on micro-USB for an years or decades would have been a less than happy outcome.

It would have been wonderful.

It seems like every time a connector starts to reach the critical mass of adoption where I actually have a reasonable ecosystem of chargers and cables and devices, they go ahead and change it - usually for the worse. mini-USB was great - I had phones, accessories, the lot with it. Then they changed it for the weaker and more symmetrical looking (but still not symmetrical) micro-USB and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth - but it was was still simple and functional and is now ubiquitous again. If we had stayed there I could have dealt with it, despite the odd annoyance - for a brief, shining moment, I could charge my phone at my friend's house and vice versa. Now with USB-C it's all gone to shit again:

- I have a new phone that charges over USB-C - but only fast charges with the included adapter, which looks like a regular USB-A wall adapter + A->C plug but actually has some proprietary magic in it. Something about "unusual fast charging standards".

- My laptop came with a USB-C charger but the plug failed after some months, its microscopic contacts losing their spring.

- Needing a new charger because soldering a USB-C connector is quite daunting, I bought an Apple wall charger because it uses a replaceable cable. I discovered later that the cable is apparently nonstandard and incredibly expensive. I bought an unbranded one, at no small cost.

- The unbranded USB-C to USB-C cable failed again after some months. I bought an official Apple cable, to even more considerable expense. That worked, until the port on the laptop died. The laptop sits dead for now.

- Since I now have a 85W USB-C charger lying around, I thought I'd try it on my new phone. But if I plug the Apple adapter into the phone it makes very loud and alarming capacitor noises, especially when full - enough to wake me up in the middle of the night when it gets to 100% (and it takes until the middle of the night, because it doesn't fast charge).

This is a shitshow. Give me back my micro-USB. Yes it's annoying to insert, but at least they last more than a few months, have a single standard, can be soldered, and don't fry devices.

>- I have a new phone that charges over USB-C - but only fast charges with the included adapter, which looks like a regular USB-A wall adapter + A->C plug but actually has some proprietary magic in it. Something about "unusual fast charging standards".

USB-PD is standardized. Don't blame USB if the manufacturer decides to not implement it.

>- Since I now have a 85W USB-C charger lying around, I thought I'd try it on my new phone. But if I plug the Apple adapter into the phone it makes very loud and alarming capacitor noises, especially when full - enough to wake me up in the middle of the night when it gets to 100% (and it takes until the middle of the night, because it doesn't fast charge).

It#s not entirely unusual that cheaper charging circuits start to humm in the audible range if far under their designed output power.

In my experience, it depends on the cable. Some cables feel much better and don't come off as easily as others.

Also ports. First MacBook Pro ports sucked and weren't firm at all. New ones are great. Some connectors are actually too hard to push in.

More than slippery, I think simply some ports (ie the Pixels) are looser than others.

Why does the EU actually have a say here? Is this really that important that government should be involved? Don’t like Apple chargers, don’t buy them.

A government is involved, because it is fairly obvious that Apple and others are not going to take the initiative themselves. A revamp of the regulation on a common charger will help reduce considerable amount of electronic waste, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the environment.

How is having a government-mandated charging port going to have a positive environmental impact, other than by having a mandate which forces everyone to stick with their current connectors and stop adopting new ones?

There is likely to be a grace period involving a pragmatic discussion, before any regulation is passed. It will revolve around adoption of USB-C as a common standard moving forward, rather than the knee-jerk reaction you are proposing. The Commission's powers are subject to strict limits when adopting 'Delegated acts' which cannot change the essential elements of the law and must define objectives, content, scope and duration of the delegation of power. In any event, the Parliament and Council may revoke the delegation or express their objections.

Thanks for the feedback, didn't intend to come across as knee-jerk. Its just that the idea of obsoleting every existing charger doesn't seem very environmentally friendly.

Because these businesses are doing business in the EU, hence they are under EU jurisdiction when doing so. We're not all the US.

>Apple really dropped the ball on this and the argument they make (thing about all of the old accessories!) is pretty moot for the consumer.

Not entirely moot. A billion people (1-2 hundreds of millions in Europe) have at least an old accessory with lightning interface). When the old style interface was deprecated many people were angrt (but at least the new one had some benefits - size, reversibility, etc).

That said, USB-C is where Apple's going as well (e.g. the new laptops, iPad Pro, 2019's USB-C iPhone rumors, which were probably confused with a future model, etc.).

Besides, thanks god Apple didn't move on to the same spec as the other phone manufactures. Instead of USB-C we'd have what they settled-in to: mini USB and then micro USB, two equally horrible designs (the only worse probably being the Micro B USB style, mostly used by external hard disks).

Also people seem to forget that Apple was heavily involved in the design of USB-C, all the way back to thunderbort from when it was an Intel-Apple initiative known as LightPeak. The modern USB-C, as a cable with adaptable "logic", includes support for several interfacing protocols from old-school USB to Thunderbolt. The "speedy" part of USB-C is Thunderbolt:

Thunderbolt is the brand name of a hardware interface developed by Intel (in collaboration with Apple) that allows the connection of external peripherals to a computer.


> The "speedy" part of USB-C is Thunderbolt

Sadly, it is (to the best of my understanding) not quite that simple.

The same physical port and cable that support USB-C can also support Thunderbolt 3. However, both ports and cables can support either just TB3, just USB v3.1, or even older versions of USB, with a dizzying variety of different capabilities and power-delivery levels supported.

Yes, hence the "speedy part". USB-C ports can handle different protocols over the same wires.

Since last years iOS 13, with the updates to the Files app, it's no longer impossible to connect an off-the-shelf USB drive to an iPhone and dump pictures to it.

You will need a lightning to usb adaptor, (and probably the powered lightning to usb3 adaptor to work with most drives), but it does pretty much work the way you would expect now.

Presumably if you have a fancy iPad Pro with built-in USB-C then you can also connect a standard usb-C compatible thumbdrive directly to it.

Why stop at mobile phones? Is there a reason laptops need so many different connectors? I am willing to bet many random connectors are just planned obsolescence or a secondary revenue stream for producers.

Also, let's take this further. Any reason laptop displays can't internally have a rather standardised connector? We are throwing away perfectly good displays on broken laptops. What if I could buy a $20 adaptor and use that laptop display as an external screen?

The amount of anti-consumer and anti-reuse measures the hardware industry does is baffling.

Why stop at computers? Dewalt, Milwaukee, Makita, and every other power tool uses its own proprietary battery connector.

Why stop at DC power? Last I checked, Germany, France, England, Italy, and many of the smaller countries all had their own AC power connectors.

Why stop at hardware? iMessage, Hangouts, Messenger, Slack, and all the rest use their own proprietary interfaces. I still can't even save "a spreadsheet" in one program and reliably open it in another.

I can put any bit in any drill, and any blade in any saw, but as soon as electricity gets involved, everything gets stupid. A lot of programmers say they're interested in "visualization", but visualization was the default state of the world before electrons got involved. Most programmers use the invisible nature of software to disguise the proprietary and incompatible interfaces they're creating.

I hear a lot of developers complain about how their Mac laptop is no longer expandable or upgradeable, and then they turn around and use it to write a web app which uses a custom client-server interface with no public API or import/export. An industry is only anti-consumer when I'm the consumer.

> iMessage, Hangouts, Messenger, Slack, and all the rest use their own proprietary interfaces.

For a certain core level of functionality, there should be regulations and laws in place that these apps all support a public and open protocol. They can have their own, but I should be able to use imessage to send an IM to skype on the desktop. This is no different than requiring standard signalling on the wires during the era of landlines.

> I still can't even save "a spreadsheet" in one program and reliably open it in another.

This becomes more difficult when a spreadsheet could be the latest version of excel v. a hobby project on github. Though I expect the vast majority of spreadsheet applications will export a csv.

I spent 8 years in a 'startup' trying to make collaboration into a service. Couldn't get any traction. The idea of always-on collaboration services was hard for folks. They would launch the service, have a 1-hour meeting, and kill the service. With no expectation of available clients it was hard to market APIs to talk with non-existant clients. Sigh.

> For a certain core level of functionality, there should be regulations and laws in place that these apps all support a public and open protocol. They can have their own, but I should be able to use imessage to send an IM to skype on the desktop.

Historically, open protocols like this have had a major issue with spam. How does the Skype network verify that the iMessage IM is legitimate? What about the incoming IM from the TotallyNotAFrontForSpammers service?

Email is pretty much the only fully open federated push protocol, and it is only able to handle spam via complex reputation based hacks and message inspection (which is a poor fit for IM).

This is no different than requiring standard signalling on the wires during the era of landlines.

With the level of spam phone calls I get these days, you may see why I'm not excited about using the phone system as a model!

> Why stop at computers? Dewalt, Milwaukee, Makita, and every other power tool uses its own proprietary battery connector.

This is a good idea too. Lots of industries 'differentiate' only to lock-in users. There is no technical reason these connectors need to be different.

FWIW, batteries period may be the wrong technology for most users of these devices.

Personally, I'd happily trade the need to have multiple battery packs with long charging times for ultracapacitor powered tools that might not run as long, but could be recharged to full power in seconds. Cost really might not prohibitively higher since you wouldn't need so many of the battery packs anyhow, and chargers could readily be run off of either wall current or your car/truck.

AC wall plugs all work with each other besides the UK.

You can insert European plug in to UK socket if you stick scissors into ground pin hole which unlocks the curtains for main pins. Probably one of the worst safety features with unintended consequences...

How’s that? We don’t agree on voltage. Japan alone uses two different frequencies!

> I can put any bit in any drill, and any blade in any saw,

Not really, no. Try fitting a bit with a 1/2” shank into your typical consumer battery-powered drill.

Well, at least one reason for different connectors is the fact that USB-C cannot support more than 100W(20V at 5amps). But I agree that literally every single laptop on the market that's below 100W should just use USB-C for charging.

>every single laptop on the market that's below 100W should just use USB-C for charging.

Not just laptops, but electronics.

Recently I had to replace the crappy default PSU for my Synology NAS. It only uses 18W at peak during Read usage with 2HDD. Why do I need a specific power supply for that?

Most Router only uses 20W. TV Set Top Box / Recorder. Active Speakers. Electronic Shavers Battery Powered Small Drills or Kitchen Wares.

I have to search for that specific charger every time,

I really don't get the love for USB-C here. It's really a horrible design - it's a huge step backwards from the "mag-safe" power connector Apple used to use (at least Microsoft uses a similar connector on its Surface computers, which is one more reason to love them), it fills with lint, dust and gunge even worse than the Lightning connector (which is unacceptable), and worst, USB-C is the most egregious tarpit of unknown interoperability ever created. Sure the connectors mate, but what version of USB does it support? Which capabilities even within those versions? Is it Thunderbolt-capable, or does it just look like it? While I recognize the reality that Intel has foisted this steaming pile of confusion on us, the right answer is, "No, locking our children into this travesty of poor design is an idea so bad it could only have come from government idiots. We should not mandate something so stupidly bad as USB-C. We deserve better."

I only like USB-C for the power delivery. I dont like USB-C in itself at all.

Good luck making that distinction in the real world - the VietNam of data standards comes right along with the power capabilities. FWIW, I'm hugely in favor of a version of PoE that ditches the outrageously expensive 1500V isolation requirement (which is ignored in some cheap PoE PD hardware, anyway), but it's probably 10-20 years too late for that...

USB-C is overkill for just being a dumb power connector. I can buy average barrel-jacked PSUs for cheaper than a single USB-C PD cable! and then you have you pay for all the expensive USB PD components on the product as well just to support it.

Interesting Question. I will have to look up on the BOM cost difference.

95 % of laptops have less than 100W chargers.

I don't even expect more than 60W chargers ..

My retired W520 got a 170 W one. So, they're out there. But probably only a few.

My P70 is a little newer and it also runs on a 170W brick. And apparently if you go for the more powerful discrete GPU it needs a 230W one.

On the other side, the Dell 7773 I was eyeing for personal use is a seventeen-incher that runs on a plain 65W.

There's a 230W charger for use with current Thinkpad workstations, it's an absolute unit. [1]

[1] https://i.redd.it/5ln51upcv8w21.jpg

Woah, you'll need a drivers license for that thing!

My gaming laptop is 180w

oh yeah .. my poor thinkpad x201 with no dgpu is no game

5A is a huge amount of current. For anything. We're talking microwave oven or a couple of desktops.

And FWIW, my laptop charger is 2.25A output. There is plenty of room within a 5A envelope for higher current, faster charging battery tech of the future.

5A is an amount of current. It's nonsensical to talk about in isolation. I regularly replace 20A fuses (among the smaller ones) in my car.

5A in the US gives you 550W, not enough to power a microwave. In most (if not all?) countries in the EU you get 1150W from that same 5A.

No idea why you’re being down-voted. There is a fundamental reason why most supplies will prefer to up voltage rather than current to meet power demand and it’s summarised succinctly as I^2*R

You cannot run a 700W microwave from a 20V 5A power supply.

My XPS 13 can suck 130W through its USB-C connector. For example with the TB-16 dock.

Must be a proprietary thing as USB-C using USB-PD maxes out at 100W.

For laptops there's a true cacophony when it comes to connectors. I hope USB-C meets requirements for most laptops/CPU/GPU configurations.

Modern Macbooks and Thinkpads are both USB-C, so it looks like things are moving in that direction.

IMHO everything that can be safely and reliably powered via a USB cable (of whatever a relevant standard connector type) should be powered that way nowadays (with exception of PoE and other cases where a non-USB power supply actually adds significant value for the consumer).

An unpleasant surprise I have recently experienced was a Nintendo Switch refusing to connect to an HDMI TV without being attached to a Nintendo brand charger. I can hardly believe rendering to HDMI increases power consumption so much that this is necessary and there are no standard-conformant 3-rd party chargers which can handle that. IMHO such practices should be outlawed.

Power consumption increases a lot for better graphics quality, depending on the game. And while I think it’s true that the switch is non-compliant or at least strange, it generally works if the power supply can provide 15V (somewhat uncommon).

DC jacks still have their use, especially in simpler devices. The complexities USB PD specification doesn't make that much sense to impliment in say an electric drill.

That qualifies as significant value for the consumer - making the device notably (relatively to the price of the rest of its parts) cheaper to produce and easier to repair.

In just so many cases using a proprietary DC jack (like in my Dell laptop) decreases the value by forcing you to carry around your PSU wherever you go and buying overpriced replacements every now and then. The same applies to batteries - having a single (or some) standard for easily replaceable Li-Ion blocks would increase the value a lot.

It's actually a different story with the Switch. Apparently it doesn't follow the USB specification correctly which means if you use a charger with higher power output than the expected it damages its battery whereas if the spec was followed the device negotiates it's power requirements with the charger and avoids any damage.

Because laptop monitors were traditionally driven through a direct LVDS signal, you can buy an adapter but it would cost much more than $20...

So the question is why would you want a $100> worth of extra logic in a laptop that only a fraction of the population would use, this seems to be even stupid from an environmental perspective since you are increasing e-waste not reducing it.

Some brand get the same connectors, and it's been for years, for example, dell has the same big connector for laptops, and a smaller one for ultrabooks.

They are switching to usb-c charging, but keep their old connector.

Laptop displays have already a standardised connector it just need an LCD controller! https://www.amazon.fr/s?k=LCD+controller

So yes, you are throwing perfectly fine laptop screen when you could have used them as external screens.

> Laptop displays have already a standardised connector it just need an LCD controller! https://www.amazon.fr/s?k=LCD+controller > So yes, you are throwing perfectly fine laptop screen when you could have used them as external screens.

What I had in mind was more of a 'monitor stand' with the wiring where you just connect / slide into the laptop screen and voila you have some new small external display.

I'm not really certain right now just looking at those boards which one would fit to an old broken laptop but I understand these are not targeted newbies.

I wonder if TV lcd panels also have some kind of standard or if it's completely random

For many, you can ressurecg a dead lcd TV with a HDMI to lvds adapter from eBay. You just need the exact panel and some time on AliExpress

Another example: I have an electric razor which takes up to 1A at 5V (DC). Sounds perfect for a USB charger, right? It does not have a USB connector but a proprietary thing. The one with the USB connector is labelled travel razor and costs 20 € more. It's outrageous because most likely the USB connector is even cheaper than the other because it is produced in much higher numbers.

If the charger dies before the machine itself, I will modify the cable and see how well that works.

A watertight USB connector is more expensive than just two pins molded in-place through the plastic.

> Any reason laptop displays can't internally have a rather standardised connector?

Don't they? I thought LVDS was nearly universal for a long time. Didn't mean you could always swap panels though, resolution and timing needed to be supported, even when the screen physically connected. I've seen boards for sale to add external vga/dvi to old panels, but ultimately did not buy any.

I think there may be some movement towards internal display port, too.

eDP is quite common these days especially in laptops with elaborate hinges that have 4K screen options.

LVDS requires 40 differential signaling pairs for displaying 4K resolution, eDP requires only 4 and even that can be reduces to 2 if DSC is used or your display adapter and panel support HBR3.

However for LVDS and eDP the physical connectors can be drastically different but in all honesty this has very much to do with the physical design of the laptop rather than some anti consumer conspiracy.

Depending on the hinge mechanism, the wiring length as well as other factors such as does the same cable need also to support power, USB (camera) and audio (microphone) connectivity you get different designs.

>Any reason laptop displays can't internally have a rather standardised connector

They usually already do, eDP (Embedded DisplayPort).

They at least push not only for mobiles: > A common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices, MEPs will insist.

I'm really happy to see e-book readers, I hate that I need to have micro-usb just for my kindle (my phone and laptop use USB-C).

If we’d introduced this 20 years ago, think about how much e-waste we could have avoided.

Also think about your screen would look at analog signal 1280x1024, because that would likely be the limit of the standard connector chosen at the time.

Ehhh, we had DVI in 1999. That gave us slightly-better-than 1080p@60hz over a single link and slightly-better-than 1440p@60hz over a dual link.

I used to run 1600x1200 on my VGA monitors 20 years ago.

It's not a terrible idea. There are technical, business and regulatory reasons why that could be more difficult than you expect, but ultimately consumers have to want it, and to want it, they have to understand it, which is the greatest problem.

Even if consumers wanted it, it does nothing as long as they are not given the choice. They buy what's available, which is often only in part what they want.

it really should be filtered out by the wattage requirement. I have more than one flashlight that supports recharging and they all have different barrel connectors.

so either get the devices by size class, or allow a micro connector for smaller devices, but sort them wattage/amp needs

Let's take this further still. Why not mandate identical car tire sizes, having the fuel door in the same spot on every car, all the controls inside the car be universal... How about actually just making one car that embodies every European's needs?

When I visit a friend, it is very convenient to be able to charge my phone without having my own charger with me and just use theirs. At the same time, I park my car and don't care to look for compatible parking space. As for tires, I don't even know nor care what sizes they are but I'm glad the air pistons are the same across all makers/brands/sizes so I don't worry I have to go to the right fuel station to check my air pressure. Right?

Car tyres have standardised valves and fuel inlets are also standardised, and those two things are the exact equivalents to a mobile phone charging port.

Car controls are obviously universal as well, so I'm not sure what your point actually is.

If you buy a new car these days you'll spend quite a bit of time figuring out the controls for the stereo, heat, interior lights,etc. Had someone standardized that we wouldn't have to spend time figuring out every car maker's new interior. Sounds great, right?

It might be nice, but that's not really comparable to what this proposal entails.

Aren't car controls pretty universal already? At least the pedals, the turn signals, the steering wheel, the "warning lights" button, the seat belt release button, the parking brake whether it is electronic or manual, are pretty much the same in any car. Gears in autos are pretty much the same (PRND) and manual transmissions have the same layout.

Also, to get a closer analogy to the topic of the discussion, the fuel hole in cars is standardized - you have one for gas and one for diesel (which are incompatible on purpose) and that's it. There's no "you need to buy a dongle to fuel your BMW on non-BMW pump".

If you've never driven a BMW, you may get stuck, as the reverse is in an unexpected place and you have to lift the lever to get there, also unexpected. (As far as I remember)

You can argue that there is an actual practical reason for things like different tyre sizes. There is no practical reason for having slightly different barrel connectors on different laptops that makes them all incompatible.

Different barrel jacks and adapters on different products have different voltages, sometimes different polarities, some are AC, some are DC.

Some laptops have different voltage batteries that each "prefer" a different optimal voltage for building the on-board charger. This is a close analogy IMO to different sized tires on autos/trucks.

Many companies would be happy to standardize, so long as everyone else changed and they got to be the de facto/de jure standard. Bonus points if they held a royalty-generating license on the connector/communications standard.

You mean, one public transport :)

eDP (Embedded DisplayPort) is becoming more and more popular for laptop screens. It has 2-3 different connectors for different resolutions, but much more standardized than before.

Didn't the EU force phone makers to standardize on USB a couple of decades ago?

It was an absolute nightmare before that with every brand having completely different connector, voltage etc.

I'm not sure how Apple got (and are getting) around this.

I think it was more: "the industry is strongly encouraged to self standardize or else". We are on the "or else" stage now.

edit: to be fair, a lot of appliances (not just phones) come with USB chargers these days, so it is not too bad.

The goal should be to have chargers sold separately. Packaging chargers with the devices does nothing to reduce electronics waste.

That's an anti-consumer move guaranteed to add $20-50 to any phone purchase.

That's a good thing. It guarantees that chargers are truly exchangeable between devices and cuts down on the number of chargers produced and shipped. Let's face it: how many chargers do you need? How many are left over from devices that you replaced and still working?

I think the idea is that it only adds $20-50 to the first phone purchase. You can use that first charger for all later phones.

In the end it should work out better for you. You no longer have to buy a charger you don't need with every new phone.

i've bought two new kindles since amazon stopped shipping a USB Charger with every new kindle, and in that same time period i have not bought any new USB Chargers.

you don't need a new charger with every device.

how so?

I see it as 'batteries not included'

So long ss batteries are standardized, it's not a problem.

Yes, and it worked out pretty well for all manufactures sans Apple.

Now as we see a shift from Micro-USB to USB-C form factor the whole discussion really is more of customer adoption and fading out of old hardware.

The case with Apple is and will be their claim that they are not willing to encumber their power interface for the sake of standardisation when their interfaces are oh so more advanced than those of the others.

It’s not them claiming that their interface is more superior. They’re claiming that it’ll be another 30-pin to Lightning shift where everyone gets upset that their cables don’t work anymore.

I believe Apple included or offered free an adapter.

Apple got them to water it down so manufacturing a Lightning to USB adaptor was sufficient.

It appears to the EU have tired of this.

The EU strongly recommended that manufacturers would agree on a single charger standard, no actual regulation was put in place (just a large "or else" invisible attached to those announcements).

So now the EU has watched the farce with Apple long enough and it will be forcefully regulated.

I love Lightning more than my first born child.

I've been using USB-C now for about 3 months. Expected to hate it. It's pretty terrific. I'm sold.

But whatever. Rumors are Apple will transition their mobiles to fully wireless charging. I'm totally on board.

I despise my pixels usb-c plug because it is so finicky. It's at the point where it takes like 5 attempts to get it to connect to my cars android auto and it frequently disconnects whenever I hit a bump.

It's most likely lint in the phone's connector. You can clean it out with a toothpick or any non-metallic pointy object.

Apple has abandoned wireless charging for now (its unreleased AirPower product).

But even Apple has started using USB-C ports to charge their laptops and tablets now, so maybe it's not too farfetched to think that a future iPhone could also migrate to USB-C? Pretty sure the only reason lightning still exists is to maintain compatibility with the existing iPhone hardware ecosystem.

> But even Apple has started using USB-C ports to charge their laptops and tablets now

“Even”? I still hadn’t seen a usb-c anything in the wild when Apple switched their MacBooks to it and dropped all other ports.

eh no. that was like 2 years ago not decades.

2009: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_external_power_supply

I'm out few years too, but I think the manufacturers knew this was coming years before, so many switched in the mid 2000s if I remember

There's a lot to not like about this. I'm going to go under the assumption that USB-C is the standard here.

1. Companies will be forced into paying licensing fees. While not expensive, it's essentially a forced tax on companies so that they get an assigned vendor ID.

2.The language of the directive doesn't give any clarity of upgrading. What happens when the USB standard is updated to a different plug, as it was from A -> C? Will manufacturers now be forced to bundle an adapter for an undisclosed amount of time until there's enough adoption. Would updating even be allowed in this case?

3. What happens when a superior and incompatible standard is released by a completely different entity? Will companies not be allowed to adopt this standard because of the EU requirement? This feels like a directive that will stifle competition.

Honest question: Do you need a vendor ID if your device only supplies/draws power and doesn't use the data lines? Is a vendor ID necessary for things like USB-PD?


How do old devices without Internet connection recognize new IDs registered after their manufacture?

Clearly, there's no ID, but rather some kind of protocol for negotiating voltage levels.


I've already started doing my own move to all things USB-C by making a custom made board [1] (which is also for sale [2]). I have so far converted 10 devices at home and gotten rid of their bulky bricks.

[1]: https://blog.oxplot.com/usb-pd-standalone-sink-controller/

[2]: https://www.tindie.com/products/oxplot/stusb4500-compact-bre...

Heck yes. This is exactly the thing I was looking for to simplify a lot of 10-50W project ideas. Thanks for mentioning (and making) this!

This is great! I have an idea for v2, can I email you?

Sure thing!

> A common charger should fit all mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and other portable devices, MEPs will insist.

The more important part is that those devices shouldn't ship with their own charger. You should have one already, or you should be able to buy a good quality efficient one.

From my observations, people tend to buy the cheapest possible charger, if buying separately. And cheap chargers are often dangerous.

> "To be forced to disrupt this huge market"

surely that's a good thing

Apple should be calm as they still ship recent iphones with lightning instead of USB-C My Macbook Pro uses USB C but it's useless until now except for charging my Macbook. I own it since 2016. Big fail.

Isn't Apple putting crazy rules on its store to freeze innovation tho?

Apple could easily make 2 types of iPhones and let users choose - USB-C or Lightning.

That depends on your definition of "easily".

Besides the logistical issues in producing, selling and marketing two different connector models, it also means third party accessories need to support these connectors. Want that new FLIR camera for your phone? Please choose between Model A or Model B.

One connector may also end up being the primary, where third parties only create versions of their hardware for that one due to the user share, effectively eliminating the other one and pissing of your customers.

You are already presented with a choice - iOS or "everyone else" option. Besides, sometimes options are good. We're not talking here about some super hard choice between thousands incomparable insurance policies. This is a fucking connector. Fix it Apple.

Besides most of accessories are disappearing with Bluetooth, Wifi, cloud, etc.

Would a usb-c to lightning cable not solve this problem? The apple chargers are standard usb, modern phones sometimes come with a usb-c female plug. If we could just choose the cable required or no cable at all.

No it wont. Maybe USB-C female to Lightning male would, but they are still rare. It's one of the shittiest things Apple does with no clear advantage to it's users. It's "just because we can".

Obviously a common charger would simplify things. We are already almost there.

But if the main goal is to reduce electronic waste then it won't change anything by itself because every device we buy comes with a charger, anyway. In order to reduce waste, purchases of devices and chargers should be decoupled (I don't need a new charger every time I change my phone). A universal charger would thus just be an enabler for that.

Lots of phones in the UK don't come with a charger. It was a big initiative a few years ago.

See https://www.o2.co.uk/thinkbig/planet/sustainable-products-an...

I think this is what will happen over time: As everybody will have at least one USB-C charger at home, from the last two to three smartphone generations, vendors will stop giving you one with each new phone.

Battery without a phone would be even better...

It used to be the case, but replaceable batteries disappeared in the race to flatness...

Enforcing user replaceble batteries would actually be quite nice. Also publicly availabe original spare parts.

Yeah but you tend to replace a cable every 2 years of so. Bricks are more durable tho.

Or you could be presented with an option to pick a new charger cable or not when getting a new device.

while we're at it, let's stop shipping a pair of garbage-quality earbuds with every new phone.

Am I the only one that thinks regulation like this is ultra heavy handed?

You get the charger in the box, it works. They change once a decade because technology advances, we live on.

I do see it helping to standardize the smaller players that have a haphazard ecosystem but consumers and corporations can largely vote with their wallets without living in a nanny state.

Standardized batteries, required to be user-replaceable would be really nice too. Then just solve the planned OS obsolescence issue somehow and e-waste would drop dramatically.

Aren't we already there? I can't think of any mobile phones that don't charge via USB.

The iPhone

Yes, the Charger with my iPhone was definitely USB.

Ever heard of iPhoneS?

Why? standardization is nice, but to impose it? Is there any definition for 'overreach' for the EU, or those this have no end?

At what point is a product too 'complex' to standardize?

Why not standardize the phones themselves, the cars, then standardize life and give us barcodes...

This would have been great if it was introduced 15 years ago when pretty much each phone model had it's own special charger, but not so much know when they're almost all entirely standardized. Except for Apple, of course. They're special.

Um so this really is just for Apple right? I assume everyone else has moved to USB-C now?

low end android is still largely on microUSB. although by the time any legislation gets passed, they'll probably be on USB-C

I think it's about time all this can/is easily fixed with QI. No more need for a cable to charge your battery!

BTW: the title is a bit misleading, as the article states a lot more products then just mobile phones.

What if;

Apple introduce USB-C Port, that could only be charged with MFi validated USB-C Cable? Essentially you still have to buy MFi USB-C Cables to charge your iPhone. Would that make your life a little easier?

The whole point of MFi was to get rid of the crappy cables and save guard its users and iPhone. And most no idea how far manufacturers would go just to take short cuts in their products.

Personally I have no problem buying a MFi USB-C Cable. But then most cable manufacture will surely want to support the 1.4 billion Apple ecosystem. And you end up having an Apple Tax on most USB-C cable people will definitely cry foul.

They already have USB-C on the iPad Pro

The USB-C is used entirely different to the iPhone. And iPad Pro USB-C controller is like 4 times the size of iPhone counterpart.

This is exactly how micro-usb became the standard (except for apple of course)... but yeah now it appears to be a good time to switch to usb-c

I'm surprised this hasn't been done before! The trouble it would have saved me throughout life when stranded somewhere without my own charger, but unable to use another's. Someone mentioned laptop connectors, too. That would also be great, but since I usually travel with intention with my laptop while I passively have my phone on me all the time, the need isn't exactly on the same level.

Turns out the common charger is not a connector but QI wireless charging.


Let's also make 3.5 mm jack mandatory on any device that outputs audio - without dongles.

No, let's not force your particular preference on everybody else.


Phones are still able to output analog (and digital!) audio using a dongle.

Ducking behind accessibility because you don't want to use a dongle seems a little disingenuous.

OH good and mandate separate mic and audio out as well :-)

Component video out, HDMI, optical audio out, SCSI, Serial ports and a floppy drive.

These should all be required by law in every device.

I meant for audio, thou was temped to add a 3.5 inch floppy to my new pc build might be difficult to fin a TREX board though

But now that I'm thinking about it more, yes, let's force my preference for open standards, interoperability and reusability on everybody else. It is the ethically right thing to do, it's best for the people.

I support the USB-C idea but this latter one is absolutely terrible

More terrible than needing a converter for every pair of wired headphones, and a separate converter for the highly advanced case of wanting to charge my phone while listening to music?

I don't think we should regulate away bluetooth only devices, seems rather unreasonable.

Yes. There are valid reasons for not including a headphone jack whereas there are none for having two incompatible connector types (USB/Lightning) for the same purposes. It would make more sense to encourage manufacturers to make variants of their headphones with a USB plug (AFAIK USB-C supports analog audio).

Mandating that all phones must have a headphone jack would make sense if manufacturers omitted it for anticompetetive or other nefarious reasons, knowingly acting against the interests of their customers. AFAIK there is no evidence for that so why micromanage the engineers in charge?

> Mandating that all phones must have a headphone jack would make sense if manufacturers omitted it for anticompetetive or other nefarious reasons, knowingly acting against the interests of their customers.

I guess that's a matter of opinion, because I am convinced that this is exactly what happened. Apple sells dongles for money and also makes money on Lightning licensing.

Do you still use a floppy drive? Was removing that “anti-competitive” or just seeing around corners. Wired anything is going away completely; just a matter of time. It isn’t some conspiracy to prevent you from using your old Walkman headphones.

Floppy drive was replaced by two things:

1) For software distribution, CDs. CDs were vastly superior in their read speed and size (400x bigger). CDs are open standard and are not controlled by any single entity and you don't need license to make one.

2) For transfer from computer to computer, by USB flash disks, which are vastly superior in size and speed and durability. USB is very open and there were (and are) many flash disks available on the market.

Meanwhile, 3.5mm Jack was "replaced" by

1) Proprietary bullshit connector, that needs a license from Apple or a dongle only sold by Apple. It is not superior in any way - it provides no better quality or extra features.

2) Bluetooth, which has advantage of wirelessness, but suffers lower sound quality and high latency - which of course Apple now solves by their proprietary bullshit codecs that only Apple headphones have, so they gained advantage through anti-competitive means.

As I see it, those situation are in no way similar. Apple is obviously abusing it's position in an anti-competitive way, and removing open and free solution to push it's proprietary one.

I know I'm not going to convince you, because with some people, Apple can do no wrong because otherwise their identity as fanboy would suffer. I'm sorry.

Apple is an exception, Android phone manufacturers don't have a monopoly to abuse.

That would fantastic.

USB-C all the way

Maybe an EU state can horse trade massive GDPR fine for caving on USB-C?

What about calling to stop the planned obsolescence?

Things like replaceable batteries, longer support (security patches and parts) should be a good start.

A standard charging port is a clear and achievable milestone.

defeating planned obsolescence is a vague and unacheivable goal, and any regulations that directly address it are more likely to stifle innovation and be circumvented by big companies than they are to actually help.

defeating planned obsolescence isn't 'that' vague to be fair. Mandating 4-5 year manufacturer warranties, right to repair, and replaceable batteries/screens/button components would pretty much get us there.

We're basically already able to do these things, it's just made more difficult and complex because you can't buy the original piece you need directly from apple. And, in the past, Apple has been known to intentionally break phones that have been user-repaired (the print scanner/button on an old iphone comes to mind.)

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