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EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the guilty-as-charged dept.
SmartAboutThings writes "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 draft law was approved by an overwhelming majority: 550 votes to 12. 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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EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger

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  • Dumb (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405)
    What phones don't simply use the micro or mini USB cable and 500ma? iPhone 5?
    • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX (665546) on Friday March 14, 2014 @03:20PM (#46486559)
      Yep. Apple has been the most significant holdout.

      At this point every other phone I've worked with that's newly produced has either had mini-USB or micro-USB connections.
      • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054) on Friday March 14, 2014 @06:21PM (#46488357)

        Wait, isn't this the SECOND time [europa.eu] this standard was imposed, and didn't apple get a pass last time?

        Why will it be different this time?

        I'm betting Apple will issue another "E-waste" adapter to their ridiculous 30pin, and thumb their nose at this rule just like the last time.

        • Re:Dumb (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 14, 2014 @06:38PM (#46488471)

          Wait, isn't this the SECOND time [europa.eu] this standard was imposed, and didn't apple get a pass last time?

          Why will it be different this time?

          I'm betting Apple will issue another "E-waste" adapter to their ridiculous 30pin, and thumb their nose at this rule just like the last time.

          You are aware that by using the native adapter, Apple is able to operate outside the power ranges which the power-over-USB folks were willing to support because it would have been more expensive to make the power adapters smart enough to negotiate amperage with the device up to the levels Apple runs at, right?

          In other words, the power-over-USB standard is pretty stupidly low powered, if you want to support faster charge cycles, so using this universal adapter and the "E-waste" adapter dongle is just going to mean Apple devices charge a lot slower in Europe than they do in the rest of the world. Just like all non-Apple devices don't tend to support fast charging, for lack of the ability to negotiate a much higher amperage between the charger and the device.

          So it's not "thumbing their nose", so much as it is "can't you power-over-USB people ever agree on a useful standard?".

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday March 14, 2014 @07:09PM (#46488715)

            Regular USB will do 10 watts, 5 volts 2 amps. My Samsung phone uses just such a charger. Need more? The USB Power Delivery standard, which needs different cables, will handle up to 100 watts, that being 20v 5a.

            USB PD was standardized in July 2012 so it has been around for awhile.

    • by gmack (197796)

      Non smart Samsung phones. I actually just got burned by this a few months ago when I grabbed something cheap to last me the month between when my old phone was stolen and when my new one arrived.

    • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Informative)

      by phoenix_rizzen (256998) on Friday March 14, 2014 @03:38PM (#46486785)

      The EU mandated microUSB charging ports on phones, thus reducing the "cable clutter" that existed 5-odd years ago.

      Now, the EU is mandading the other end of the charging cable, the actual, physical charger is plugs into. Meaning, you'll only need a single charger, with a USB port in it, to charge your flip phone, your 4" mini-smartphone, your 6" phablet, and your 10" tablet.

      Right now, each device has it's own charger, with it's own specs (how many volts at how many amps). And you generally can't charge a tablet using an older phone charger.

      So you end up with a handful of different chargers in your drawer that you have to pick through to charge each device, or you end up with a drawer full of chargers you never use as you just plug everything into the most power charger you have (generally the one for the tablet).

      Standardising on a single charger would eliminate all the extra chargers gathering dust in people's junk drawers.

      • by gutnor (872759)

        Wasn't that the other way around ? They standardised first the wall part to USB 5V which more or less all constructor (including Apple) followed. Now they want to standardize the other end of the cable, the actual plug in the phone.

        BTW, isn't micro-USB limited to some ridiculously small Amp compared to the 2A / 5A / 15A that new devices draw from the cable now ?

        • by tlambert (566799)

          BTW, isn't micro-USB limited to some ridiculously small Amp compared to the 2A / 5A / 15A that new devices draw from the cable now ?

          Yeah.

          The way you negotiate over 500ma in power is you have special docking cable with resistors on it that say to the device "I am a special docking cable with resistors of the right values on these pins; you should feel free to do a data negotiation over my ordinarily not connected data lines to talk the charger into giving you more amps". To do that, your special docking connector, like the one on the Zune and the one on Apple devices has to have more than the 4 pins in a standard USB connector. It kin

          • Re:Dumb (Score:4, Informative)

            by marcansoft (727665) <[moc.tfosnacram] [ta] [rotceh]> on Friday March 14, 2014 @07:59PM (#46488967) Homepage

            This is incorrect. There is no bidirectional negotiation between chargers and devices, nor are there any magic extra pins (at least for pretty much all Android and Apple products - dunno about Zune).

            What there is is one USB charging standard, that basically says one thing and one thing only (that matters): if the data pins are shorted together (but otherwise not connected to anything), then the port is a Dedicated Charging Port. A DCP must meet certain voltage/current curve ranges and may be engineered to supply anywhere from 500mA to 1.5A (or more), with the voltage dropping as the device exceeds the charger's maximum. Devices are simply supposed to regulate current draw upwards until the voltage drops below a threshold, indicating the charger's capability. No digital negotiation takes place. Devices are limited to 1.5A charging current, which is quite typical for modern devices (and significantly better than the 500mA of a non-charging port).

            There is a newer USB Power Delivery specification that is much more recent, supports higher powers, probably uses more complex negotiation (I haven't read it), and nothing implements it yet.

            Then there's what Apple does - they have an incompatible implementation that uses resistors on the data pins in the charger to signal its current capability. Different resulting voltages mean different current levels. This is completely incompatible with the USB charging standard. Recent Apple devices (since the iPhone 3G or so) do support DCP chargers (to some extent - some charge more slowly, and I don't know about larger iPads?), but non-Apple devices will only charge at 500mA or worse from Apple chargers.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I'm glad they are doing this but I hope they also mandate Qi for wireless charging. It seems to be the de-facto standard but it wouldn't surprise me if we see a few more proprietary systems in the next few years.

        Cables are so old fashioned. I charge and sync wirelessly now, never plug my phone in.

    • by GNious (953874)

      1000mA, at least for some of the devices I have....

      Note: I think Apple is "in compliance", since they have a 29.99 EUR adapter last I checked.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Most phones nowadays use it because it became obvious that EU would mandate it if everyone didn't play ball a few years ago. Before it, manufacturers were making a mint off chargers.

    • by Obfuscant (592200)
      Galaxy Tab. Sony PRS-505(?)*, Sony PRS-600, Motorola Xoom, Dell Streak. You asked about phones, but the new law applies to electronic devices in general.

      * This Sony device is SO stupid that if you try charging it with a standard wall-wart microUSB (maybe it was mini) supply, it will think it is connected to an active USB host, repeatedly attempt to negotiate the power, refuse to use the power it is being given, and eventually stop negotiating because the battery is dead. Absolutely brain damaged piece of

  • by rujasu (3450319) on Friday March 14, 2014 @03:19PM (#46486549)

    "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..."

    Seriously? How much "diversity" and "innovation" do you need in terms of a charger?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BasilBrush (643681)

      Ignore that bit. It's the UK Independence Party (UKIP). They oppose all EU regulations on principle. The reasoning is irrelevant. They're about as rational as Fox News pundits.

      • And yet, despite having returned no MPs whatever they're treat as though they deserve equal news coverage. I can see why the tabloids like to keep them around - they're good for a laugh and that sells papers - but the BBC shouldn't even give them the time of day. Unfortunately, because they're given credence people seem to think they're credible.
      • by sa1lnr (669048)

        reply to change moderation, how the hell does interesting turn into troll?

    • by x0ra (1249540)
      As much as you need if you do not want to start having to put a connector for power, another for data, and yet another for whatever else you want to do.
    • Isn't it really just a standard for the socket? They can still innovate all they like on how the power gets in there.
    • by Firethorn (177587) on Friday March 14, 2014 @03:59PM (#46486993) Homepage Journal

      Well, consider electric cars for a moment.

      What happens when you mandate a single charger suitable for vehicles like the Leaf, then you have Tesla attempting to produce a long-range vehicle? The 'superchargers' that Tesla is building overpowers most 'fast chargers' out there by a substantial amount.

      Do you mandate that all chargers reach the Tesla's level, or do you cripple Tesla?

      Honestly, with the larger tablets I wonder if 12V might not be a better voltage for them.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Right now, you've got adapters.

        The base model Leaf used to only have the "slow" charger, now all Leafs (Leaves?) have both charging ports and level 3 charging capacity.

        The Tesla has an adapter to use the CHAdeMO 6.6v chargers. I imagine the Leaf could have an adapter, if they wanted to pay the $2500 fee(!) for lifetime Supercharger access.

        It's messy, but it's getting cleaner, and we'll probably start seeing all of the ports on vehicles or friendly adapters come in the bag with your charging cable. Maybe s

      • In USB land there is the new power spec that can deliver 100w over a standard usb 2.0 cable. It ups the voltage and amperage to get there and is negotiated.

        As to Tesla, forcing them to have the standard port does increase there costs but also means it can charge anywhere. It does not stop them from having a second faster port or letting there port negotiate for faster charging up to the voltage/amperage limits of the design.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radarskiy (2874255)

      "How much "diversity" and "innovation" do you need in terms of a charger?"

      If you design a battery system that can accept a higher charging current, you may need a charger that have power levels and signaling to request those power levels that are not in the present spec for the one true charger. (This actually happened.)

      If you design a phone that can drive a wider variety of outputs, you may need more pins that the one true connector has. (This actually happened.)

      If you design a wireless charging system, yo

  • This is what the European Union really does - they set standards so stuff works all over Europe, across borders and across vendors. Like GSM phones. In the past, over 20 years they moved the 220V and 240V countries to 230V. That was completed in 2003. Trying to get the whole EU to use the same AC power plug, though, was not successful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is what the European Union really does - they set standards so stuff works all over Europe, across borders and across vendors. Like GSM phones. In the past, over 20 years they moved the 220V and 240V countries to 230V. That was completed in 2003. Trying to get the whole EU to use the same AC power plug, though, was not successful.

      So when will the Europoean Union mandate a single spoken language and that all cars must drive on the same side of the road?

    • Taking a 240V +/- 6% country and making it a 230V +10%/-6% country whilst not making any changes to the actual supply voltage doesn't sound all that much like a success story. (220V countries became 230V +6%/-10% and all new devices are designed for 230V +/-10%)
  • I have a cell phone which is neither dumb nor smart but inbetween, and I can't get the pictures out of it (it has a webcam) or music into it. The memory card is proprietary micro "memory stick" (ha!), I don't have a bluetooth module on my PC, the one thing I can plug it in is the mains charger : power only, not data transfer.

    Such a pain in the ass! (sending or configuring MMS doesn't seem to work)
    I'm stuck with a useless webcam, sure I could order a bluetooth module or a special cable but it's an extra expe

  • While I like the idea of easy to swap chargers, I don't really like the idea of the government mandating it.

  • every 9 years or so.

    I have used iPods with the dock-connector, the original iPhone and every iPhone and iPad up to the iPhone 5s now. I collected a pile of chargers and cables and they all are used, still. I'm sure that the charger of my very first iPhone is used everyday. There is no better investment into cables and chargers I have made within the last decade. Similar, but not as good, with the Powerbooks. Most of the chargers have had a very long life, and my very first Magsafe-Charger is still in use, d

  • by ayjay29 (144994) on Friday March 14, 2014 @04:44PM (#46487489)

    I read it as:

    EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger
    The draft law was approved by an overwhelming majority: 550 volts to 12.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Well, they already have dangerous 230V when 120V works just fine... Stupid Euros...
      • by labnet (457441) on Friday March 14, 2014 @05:27PM (#46487929)

        Well, they already have dangerous 230V when 120V works just fine... Stupid Euros...

        Except 120v requires twice as much copper, and higher currents, causing more fires. You also have the worst mains power connector in the developed world and measure your cable in feet. Stupid yanks.

  • by John.Banister (1291556) * on Friday March 14, 2014 @04:45PM (#46487511) Homepage
    I wish DIN would make a standard specification for cordless power tool battery attachment. It'd be nice to be able to interchange brands with batteries and tools.

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