The mobile phone chargers used in the past often varied according to the manufacturer and model, and more than 30 different types of chargers were on the market. Apart from causing inconvenience to the consumer, this created unnecessary electronic waste.
The European Commission facilitated an agreement among major handset manufacturers to adopt a common charger for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU. In June 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in which mobile phone manufacturers agreed to harmonise chargers for new models of data-enabled handsets, coming onto the market as of 2011.
The MoU expired at the end of 2012 but it has effectively been extended by a number of its signatories through two subsequent ‘letters of intent’, signed in 2013 and 2014.
There is still fragmentation in the market in terms of connectors used at the device end (due to the co-existence of USB Type-C, USB micro-B, and Apple’s Lightning
connector). As regards battery charging protocols, there appears to be near universal interoperability among the solutions on the market today (including the different versions of USB charging technology, as well as proprietary solutions developed by QualComm, Huawei and Oppo) – meaning all mobile phones sold nowadays can be charged safely with any external power supply (EPS) from a reputable manufacturer. However, the speed of charge can vary significantly depending on the combination of phone and EPS that is used.
Apple, whose iPhones are charged from its Lightning cable, has said rules forcing connectors to conform to one type could deter innovation, create a mountain of electronic waste and irk consumers.
Further EU discussions continue regarding implementing a common mobile phone charger
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Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.