June 13 2022: We may soon see a common standard for phone, headset and tablet chargers, across brands – and that standard will be the Type C USB. This has been propelled by the European Parliament.
By autumn 2024, USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets and cameras in the EU, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed last week.
The provisional agreement on the amended Radio Equipment Directive, establishes a single charging solution for certain electronic devices. This law is a part of a broader EU effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier.
Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one single charger for all of their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer. Laptops will also have to be adapted to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force.
The charging speed is also harmonised for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
Better information and choice for consumers
Consumers will be provided with clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to see whether their existing chargers are compatible. Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device.
These new obligations will lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year on unnecessary charger purchases. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.
Encouraging technological innovation
As wireless charging technology becomes more prevalent, the European Commission will be empowered to develop so-called delegated acts, on the interoperability of charging solutions.
Parliament’s rapporteur Alex Aguis Saliba said: “Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe! European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics. We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers”.
The Verge adds:The single biggest impact of this legislation is likely to land on Apple’s iPhone. While the rest of the smartphone industry has gradually converged around USB-C as a single, standardized wired charging port, Apple has steadfastly stuck with Lightning, the proprietary connector it introduced with the iPhone 5 way back in 2012. The EU’s legislation could finally force it to move on.
The EU’s rules are just a provisional agreement for now and will need to be approved by both the European Council and European Parliament before they become official. That’s expected to happen after summer recess, which ends on September 1.