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Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans 257

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the those-lucky-bastards dept.
k33l0r writes "The European Commission is confident that all major cellphone companies have reached an agreement on a standard cellphone charger for consumers within the EU. 'People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,' said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Apple, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung and Texas Instruments have all signed the agreement."
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Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans

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  • Micro (Score:4, Informative)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:23PM (#28515283) Homepage Journal

    The story is incorrectly tagged miniusb. It's actually micro USB (which is an inferior connector, in my opinion) which is slightly smaller and lacks the "ears" of mini USB, which is what the Blackberry uses.

    -Peter

  • by furby076 (1461805) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:25PM (#28515309) Homepage
    Maybe instead of just trying to get a first post in you read the damn article.

    The Commission said the agreement would involve the creation of an EU norm, and that the new generation of mobile phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility.

    4th paragraph

  • Good! (Score:4, Informative)

    by zebslash (1107957) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:28PM (#28515369)

    My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

    However this will only work if vendors give the option NOT to get a new charger with a new phone. Otherwise, this will not be really useful.

  • Re:Good, I guess... (Score:4, Informative)

    by furby076 (1461805) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:33PM (#28515463) Homepage

    I take it that Apple isn't part of this little bandwagon.

    L2RTFA. They agreed to it.

  • The original post (Score:4, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:35PM (#28515493) Homepage Journal

    press release [europa.eu] and a memo [europa.eu].

    Most interesting parts:

    Incompatibility of chargers for mobile phones is a major inconvenience for users and also leads to unnecessary waste. Therefore, the Commission has requested industry to come forward with a voluntary commitment to solve this problem so as to avoid legislation.

    and

    Industry commits to provide chargers compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector. Once the commitment becomes effective, it will be possible to charge data-enabled mobile phones from any charger compatible with the common specifications.

  • Re:Correction (Score:4, Informative)

    by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:37PM (#28515525)

    You mean the manufacturers will be able to make the charger an accessory.

    Well, isn't that a good thing? What would be the logic of this agreement if the companies just continued supplying chargers with each phone?

  • by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:41PM (#28515567)

    That's because Verizon locks their phones down big time. Since the phone detected a USB data connection, it refuses to charge.

  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge&gmail,com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:51PM (#28515701) Homepage Journal
    RTFA
    It will be Mini-USB. However there are 2 issues still to clarify.

    1. Will the phone be required to charge at the standard voltages delivered by a PC USB port? I would hate to see that BS achieved by Motorola, where you can only charge on a PC if the Motorola Charger is installed. I would prefer if everyone else has to change to match Blackberry. If my Blackberry runs low in the data center I can just plug into any exposed USB port on a powered up server. . A Dell waiting at the BIOS screen or a SUN in full production.

    2. Will this be coordinated with the Chinese standard? If both the EU and China agree on a standard, India and Japan can be convinced to adopt it. Leaving America to figure out which direction it wants to go.
  • Re:Apple? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:53PM (#28515753) Homepage

    The dock connector already accepts USB charging.. they just need to produce an adapter cable - which knowing apple will be an optional accessory costing arm+leg.

  • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:56PM (#28515825)

    Believe me. The EU would sue them to hell for this. They will pull a Microsoft punishment on them.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:00PM (#28515883) Homepage

    MiniUSB is rated for 1000 connect/disconnect cycles

    MicroUSB is rated for 10,000 connect/disconnect cycles, and is also thinner by about 1.5mm (critical on modern thin devices).

    Given the power consumption on some smartphones, having the more durable connector is IMO, essential.

  • Re:Micro (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:07PM (#28516025)

    The micro-USB is superior to the mini-USB in that the springs which provide the retaining force are on the cable side and not on the phone side. If the spring breaks, you throw away the cable/charger, not the phone.

  • Part of the USB Spec (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon (30274) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:23PM (#28516235)

    This is part of the USB spec. Originally USB hosts were only required to provide a certain amount of current to devices. Later they decided to increase this, but to provide backwards compatibility the device has to ask if the host is capable of sourcing that much current before it starts drawing it.

  • Re:Good! (Score:2, Informative)

    by rthomanek (889915) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:24PM (#28516249)

    My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

    While I am more than happy to have the proprietary chargers replaced by a common standard, the statement above contains at least misinformation, if not ill will.

    I've been using Ericsson phones since nearly 15 years now. For the better part of it, they had one standard of charging port. Some three years ago they decided to change it to a new standard. Yes, both were proprietary, but neither of them was weird nor fragile (they are not as trivial as a simple jack is but you quickly come to appreciate their actual solution when you notice it is just the right balance between stiffness/ stability of the connection and the protection from doing damage to either the port or the connector).

    And no, they are not expensive to get. New chargers on Ebay cost some 3 EUR, if you are afraid they are not "genuine" you can go to a phone dealer and get one for twice as much (my estimate, given the cost of other accessories from SE).

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:29PM (#28516333) Homepage Journal

    America will use the same charger standard when the chips for power and charging based on that standard become super cheap. Which will be the case a year or so after the standard is adopted.

    There is a lot more to it than just having a micro-USB connector (people say mini-USB, but they clearly did not RTFA). A lot of us in consumer electronics, especially mobile devices tend to do crazy things with charging. Like run the USB ports at 6V+ when charging. Or have special resistors shorted over the data lines to detect a "carkit" versus a PC. When you charge on a PC you have to negotiate with the PC on being able to draw more than a 100 mA before negoiation (which you have a short period to indicate the amount of load you actually wish to draw before being shut off by some hosts). The maximum of 500mA is not really enough for good fast charging of beefier mobile devices (like some GPS units and book readers), so the chargers that come with it almost always provide a lot more power.

  • Re:Batteries too... (Score:4, Informative)

    by russotto (537200) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:39PM (#28516491) Journal

    That would be nice to have a standard for Li-ion batteries too, from mobile phones to shavers and laptops. This way, it would be easier to recycle and replace batteries, lower costs and remove vendor-specific locks. I like alkaline batteries: around 4-5 different formats to power most of our stuff. With Li-ion, we have gained in power and time, but lost in flexibility. Is that so difficult to implement ?

    Lithium ion cells are standardized. Rebuilding the batteries by opening the casing and replacing the cells is often possible. But lithium-polymer cells are a different story; in order to use every bit of space inside the battery or device, the cells are shaped to fit it. So it really IS difficult to implement.

  • by MattXBlack (1534971) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:53PM (#28516723)
    When this came up first time round I emailed Günter Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission and in charge of this. One of his staff replied after a few weeks (in TIF format, usefully). This is hastily retyped, so spelling mistakes are likely mine.

    ... You observe that phones have non-standard connectors and therefore require special cables to be connected to computers. A standardised charger requires a standard plug. I expect that this standard plug would not just be used for charging, but also for connecting to computers. The issue will therefore be addressed in parallel. ...

    So it seems they are aware of the issue and 'addressing' it. I'm interpreting 'expect' in the sense of 'England expects every man to do his duty' rather than 'I expect it'll be alright'.

  • by bami (1376931) on Monday June 29, 2009 @02:42PM (#28517509) Homepage
    Add to that, when their usb implementation is properly following spec, the maximum draw is 100 mA when connected, and then must do a software handshake to get the full 500 mA. That can only be done by either installing the drivers (Nokia Suite is a large wad of rubbish), or having the drivers come with the OS (bloat bloat bloat). So unless you always charge at your own PC (which, on trips, is not something you do a lot, unless you happen to carry your laptop everywhere), you get a sucky 100 mA from the wall, or they are ignoring the spec (which means, stick another phone on it using another variation of the spec, things can go poof by overcharging).

    Since the USB spec doesn't allow a whole lot of power, you'd need more charging time. My E71 can draw 800 mA at 5 Volts, so my 1.5 Ah 3.7 volt battery is full in ~1.4 hours, while at 500 mA around 2.2 hours, or at 100 mA around 11.1 hours. Not something you're willing to do every night in some hotel, especially with power-sucking smartphones that die within a couple of hours/days.

    Sure, everybody charging their phones on the same connector is fun and all, but my Nokia charger is around 4 cc, and you get one with a new phone any ways. My dad and mom both have Nokia phones (My mom has an older model with the larger socket, but a simple €5 adapter works great), and many people do, so it's never a problem to charge your phone when you don't have your own charger around.

    I'll have my standard nokia charger please, and add to that, I'm not that fond of the micro-usb connector. It feels a bit flimsy.
  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Monday June 29, 2009 @03:14PM (#28517975) Homepage

    Not enough detail in the article, but most likely by following the USB Battery Charging Specification. (Which was, unfortunately, released long after numerous "de facto" standards for signaling dumb chargers became prolific, most of which involve tying mini-USB pin 4 to ground with varying amounts of resistance. This can't be done in micro-USB, as micro-USB has specified meaning for pin 4.)

    Does your Pre draw 1000 mA from a computer, or from a "dumb charger" that signals itself as such?

  • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Monday June 29, 2009 @04:46PM (#28519461) Homepage

    Not really Motorola's fault.

    Drawing more than 100 mA without negotiating a host connection is verboten by USB
    Drawing more than 500 mA from a USB host is verboten

    So "dumb chargers" that supply 100 mA to a device need some method of signaling this. Unfortunately, the USB Battery Charging Specification was released way too late in the game, after a number of "de facto" standards (most based on using pin 4 of the mini-USB connector) cropped up, with the typical difference being resistor values.

    Motorola/BlackBerry: 220k or 440k to ground depending on charger current rating
    HTC: Dead short to ground
    Garmin: 17k to ground for 1A, dead short for 500 mA

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