EU standardises on USB-C chargers, wireless
The European Union has agreed to enforce a common standard for charging consumer equipment via USB-C that will also lead to a harmonisation of wireless charging standards.
From 2024, all new handheld mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, handheld videogame consoles, headphones, headsets, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, and earbuds will have to be equipped with a USB-C charging port. The deadline for laptops is 2026.
This is a potential blow to Apple which has resisted the move and is the largest of the three remaining suppliers that do not use USB-C. Apple has a number of iPad, iPhone and Mac devices with a USB-C interface, but the majority of models use the Lightening connector.
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This will allow consumer equipment to ship without a charger, saving up to 11 tonnes of electronic waste a year, says the EU. In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. However, due to incompatible chargers on the market more than a third of consumers report having experiencing problems, while spending approximately €2.4bn a year on additional standalone chargers.
Equipment makers will also have to specify the power requirements of their devices, including the fast charging requirements.
This will also see harmonisation of wireless charging, which is dominated by the Qi standard.
“A common charger is common sense for the many electronic devices on our daily lives. Thanks to our strong political commitment, we found an agreement in less than 9 months. European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste. The deal we struck this morning will bring around 250 million euros of savings to consumers annually. It will also allow new technologies such as wireless charging to emerge and to mature without letting innovation to become source of market fragmentation and consumer inconvenience,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market.
Under the regulations across the EU, the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised around USB-C. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand. Harmonising fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers from limiting the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device. More devices may be included in the future following regular assessment of the market by the Commission.
Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device means consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused.
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