European Mobile Charger Agreement Comes into Force Today
A voluntary agreement by all the major mobile phone manufacturers comes into force today in the EU, and because of the way phones are manufactured these days it's bound to very quickly have positive repercussions around the world.
Under the agreement, all new phones announced from today for sale in the EU will have a standard micro-USB socket for charging the device.
The companies who have signed up to the measure, which is intended to reduce the number of chargers sold and discarded in Europe include Apple, Nokia, Qualcomm, HTC, RIM, LG, Motorola and Samsung.
It will be interesting to see how this impacts on Apple's next iPhone as these phones have always carried proprietary hardware interfaces.Â Will the next iPhone switch entirely to micro-USB, will it have a micro-USB socket alongside the standard iPhone connector and will any change only affect handsets sold in the EU?
The move was initialised a year ago by the EU to try to reduce the overall carbon footprint and the amount of waste produced by the electronics industry and very quickly all the major manufacturers signed up.Â It means that within a year or two mobile phone companies will begin to sell phones without chargers, instead expecting consumers to either buy one separately or use the existing charger that came with their previous handset.
Some manufacturers including HTC have already been using micro-USB sockets for charging their handsets for a couple of years, indeed I'm now on my second HTC phone with such a socket and charger.
How this is taken by consumers who may resent having to buy a separate charger, or who may went to sell or give away their old phone and charger remains to be seen.Â The move is being broadly welcomed by governments across Europe however.Advertisement
Good enough idea for phone users, but doesn’t go far enough. The whole area of low voltage adaptors in general needs far more attention, especially from a safety angle.
Half the devices in our homes these days operate from low voltage adaptor plugs of some kind or another – often third party – most with similar connectors but different outputs and very rarely with anything on the adaptor to positively identify the device it powers. Not a problem years ago, but these days we have dozens of these things around our home. Connecting a device to the wrong one can cause damage – even a fire in certain cases.
Manufacturers should be obliged to mark every adaptor very clearly with the specific device to which it belongs with a warning to connect it to nothing else. And it should be physically impossible to connect a device to the wrong voltage adaptor – this wouldn’t entail new connector technology, just appropriately shaped plastic shrouds.
So while the convenience of this move is great, it’s a pity it wasn’t extended to cover ALL mains-fed low-voltage devices.
In fact, why should we – by now – need adaptors at all? With half the stuff in our homes now on low voltage, why isn’t it simply available at every wall socket? This wouldn’t have been rocket science 50 years ago (if it had been needed then) – it shouldn’t be beyond us now.