EU Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly in Favor of Common Charging Standard, Despite Apple's Protestations [Updated]

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Despite criticism from Apple, EU lawmakers on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor for new rules to establish a common charger for all mobile device makers across Europe (via Reuters).

Members of the European Parliament voted by 582-40 for a resolution urging the European Commission, which drafts EU laws, to ensure that EU consumers are no longer obliged to buy new chargers with each new device.

The resolution said voluntary agreements in the industry had significantly reduced the number of charger types, but had not resulted in one common standard.
The Commission should adopt new rules by July, the lawmakers' resolution said, calling for "an urgent need for EU regulatory action to reduce electronic waste, empower consumers to make sustainable choices, and allow them to fully participate in an efficient and well-functioning internal market."

The proposed charging ports for portable devices include Micro-USB, USB-C, and the Lightning connector. Thursday's resolution didn't specify what the mobile charging standard should be, but non-Apple mobile devices and increasingly laptops and tablets are charged by USB-C. Even Apple's own 2018 iPad Pro models adopted USB-C wholesale, so the EU is highly unlikely to choose Apple's Lightning connector.

Apple last week pushed back against proposals for binding measures to make smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices use a standardized charging port such as USB-C. Responding to the proposals, the company issued the following statement:
Apple stands for innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience. We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.

More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.

We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly. This includes Apple's USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices. This approach is more affordable and convenient for consumers, enables charging for a wide range of portable electronic products, encourages people to re-use their charger and allows for innovation.

Prior to 2009, the Commission considered mandating that all smartphones use only USB Micro-B connectors which would have restricted the advancement to Lightning and USB Type-C. Instead, the Commission established a voluntary, industry standards-based approach that saw the market shift from 30 chargers down to 3, soon to be two -- Lightning and USB-C, showing this approach does work.

We hope the Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry's ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to customers.
The European Commission, which acts as the executive for the EU, has been pushing for a common charger for more than a decade. However, the latest resolution makes legislation more likely, with the EU executive having included the common charger standard as one of the set of actions it plans for this year.

Update: There has been some confusion regarding the EU's resolution for a common charger standard, and whether the proposed legislation would cover just the charger brick or both the charger and connector cable - and thus the mobile device's port.

While the EU hasn't been particularly clear on this point, their recent Impact Assessment Study on Common Chargers of Portable Devices does suggest any regulation should cover the port as well as the connecting cable and charger. The key passage reads:
In summary, the most effective approach to addressing the consumer inconvenience that results from the continued existence of different (albeit mostly interoperable) charging solutions would be to pursue option 1 (common connectors) in combination with option 4 (interoperable external power supply).
Whether the commission accepts the recommendation of its impact assessment and enshrines it in EU law remains to be seen.

Article Link: EU Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly in Favor of Common Charging Standard, Despite Apple's Protestations [Updated]
 
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anthdci

macrumors 6502a
Jun 8, 2009
604
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What a bad idea. So we'll never get a charging solution better than USB-C now. Politicians shouldn't get involved in technology, especially when they don't understand it.
there's no reason any future ports can't be the same shape and compatible usb-c. Look at the improvement from usb 2 to 3 using the same shape port.

Another great thing from the EU that I really hope the UK adopts. I'm fully ready for a usb-c only life.
 

nikaru

macrumors 6502a
Apr 23, 2009
519
323
What a bad idea. So we'll never get a charging solution better than USB-C now. Politicians shouldn't get involved in technology, especially when they don't understand it.
There are bilions of electronic devices sold each year so it is perfectly resonable to create an industry-wide standard. It does not harm technology. Companies are free to innovate, share with the industry their new solution and reach a consensus on evolving the standard to a new one. It is a power cable. Im sick of having 10 different charges at home and having to look for the right one when I want to charge something.
 

Brian Y

macrumors 68040
Oct 21, 2012
3,563
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I like the idea of this, but legislation isn't the way forward here IMO.

What happens if someone wants to release a phone with only wireless charging? And then there's the mess of USB-C chargers themselves. Different wattages, and sometimes the spec isn't exactly the same (e.g. Nintendo switch).

I mean, the next logical conclusion is that we ditch wires completely, how does that work with a mandated USB-C port.
 

dilbert99

macrumors 68020
Jul 23, 2012
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What a bad idea. So we'll never get a charging solution better than USB-C now. Politicians shouldn't get involved in technology, especially when they don't understand it.
A few things to unpick there
Politicians aren't getting involved with technology, they are just mandating that standards are in place. It is up to the standards bodies/consortiums that will define the standard.
As for not getting better solutions that USB-C, I couldn't imagine needing a connector smaller than usb-c.
But in any case, you won't be stuck with USB-C just as we haven't been stuck with the variations of USB or HDMI or any other standard. There are mobile standards that from 2G and what ever went before it to 3g, 4g 5g, standards evolve over time. What we don't want is 50 different mobile connectors and charging bricks which in no way impedes a company. Take PD, which uses handshaking over different voltages and currents that vary with what each device needs.

If you take a look at the prices for different cables, we see that Apple Certified cables cost a lot more than USB ones even though Lightning has been out for a long time.
 

tomi44g

macrumors newbie
Sep 24, 2016
1
23
I don't see a problem having both USB-C PD and Lightening at home. What annoys me is that toothbrush, Karcher window vac, Hoover cordless vac, Dyson humidifier all have their own power adapters. A solution could be to force appliance manufacturers to sell devices without power adapters so that consumer could buy power adapter independently or reuse an existing one.
 

CanadianGuy

macrumors regular
Jul 3, 2007
110
397
Ontario, Canada
Another issue with going Qi charging only. If the battery is completely drained, it can no longer charge with Qi. I've just had a Pixel 3 (dev device) sitting on a Qi charger for 3 hours, and it hasn't charged at all. It's a dev device for when I do Android development and it hasn't been used in a while so it was completely dead. Had to plug it into a cable for it start charging again.

This legislation will likely backfire. One of it's stated goals is to reduce waste, but the easiest answer for Apple will be to just include a USB-C to Lightning dongle. Most people won't use or need it, so it'll just be extra waste.
 

Murkrage

macrumors newbie
Aug 31, 2017
14
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You're obviously not a developer. Wireless debugging on the Apple Watch is a disaster. Has cost me hundreds of hours of my life. I'd pay extra for a watch I could just plug in.
The fact that you're a developer is 100% irrelevant to the topic at hand. This is about something that's good for the consumers, not the developers. Wireless really is a great thing for consumers!
 

apoltix

macrumors newbie
Jun 8, 2008
16
17
London
You're obviously not a developer. Wireless debugging on the Apple Watch is a disaster. Has cost me hundreds of hours of my life. I'd pay extra for a watch I could just plug in.
As a developer myself I must say this is a very weak argument since the overwhelming majority of users will not be developers. As for Qi not working if the battery si dead, that is something the technology companies could work on solving.
 

dilbert99

macrumors 68020
Jul 23, 2012
2,136
1,774
I like the idea of this, but legislation isn't the way forward here IMO.

What happens if someone wants to release a phone with only wireless charging? And then there's the mess of USB-C chargers themselves. Different wattages, and sometimes the spec isn't exactly the same (e.g. Nintendo switch).

I mean, the next logical conclusion is that we ditch wires completely, how does that work with a mandated USB-C port.
Do you have a source that states all devices must have a charging port?
I'll hazard a guess that the standard will apply to devices with a charging port.

As for different wattages, devices go through a handshake process where both sides agree on what voltage to operate at and how much current the charger can supply at that given voltage, it is not hard.
 
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