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back to article Fanbois, prepare to lose your sh*t as BRUSSELS KILLS IPHONE dock

Just spent 50 quid on the latest iPhone dock? You'd better start saving for a new one, because the EU has set a timetable for its plans to force all phone manufacturers to use the same charger. Although the EU is well known for its diversity policies, it has been planning to homogenise phone chargers for some time. Ultimately, …

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Pity that there's about a snowball's chance in hell that Apple will release the spec on the Lightning port so everyone can use it, as it's a bloody good bit of design.

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Anonymous Coward

How do you know, if they won't release the design?

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Bod

Meh

Meh - micro USB does the job, charges the phone. I don't need to spend five times as much for a stylish design that does the same job to make me feel smug.

However, the EU rules may insist on a standard connector, but I bet it won't stop Apple continuing with their devices only working with connectors that have their proprietary chip in. So only an Apple branded micro USB cable will work, though technically that cable would work for other brands, just not the other way round and it of course blocks the use of cheap alternatives to ensure you pay a premium for your Apple lifestyle.

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Anonymous Coward

That all depends

on how well written the legislation is, or badly written perhaps.

They could quite easily put a clause in to say not only must the port and charger be an identical design, but they must be compatible with other manufacturers as well - so no chips allowed.

Afterall this is to cut down on e-waste isn't it??

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Re: That all depends

I just note that this is for charging, and not for data transfer.

So there's nothing to stop anyone requiring fancy and expensive cabling to get data on and off devices via a cable, with a cheap and cheerful cable working for just charging the device.

I've already got a cable on my desk that's 4-way (Nokia, micro-USB, mini-USB and some form of Apple) that works fine for charging (at least the first three do - I don't own any Apple gear to require the latter). Doesn't do any data connection though, but it sounds like this legislation might just produce a similar non-data power cable with one end that fits all.

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jai
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Re: Meh

Meh - micro USB does the job, charges the phone.

BUT haven't they just announced they're going to create a new USB standard that will be reversable like the Lightening connector is? No more scrabbling around in the dark trying to work out which way up the plug is, scratching the bottom of your phone in the process?

So surely after that is done, there'll be a new microUSB that is the same.

So which "standard" of connector are the EU suggesting everyone conforms to? The existing cables of today that'll be outdated by 2017? Or some as-yet-unknown standard that they'll think up over the next year, meaning that EVERYone will have to buy a new charger?

Why don't they do something useful, insist every phone supports wireless charging, that way, no issue with connectors and a lot less waste as no wires to throw away.

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Re: Meh

Apple are a niche player and heading towards extinction according to all the haters, so why do you care so much what they do??

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Facepalm

Scrabbling around in the dark

More to the point I need a port at both ends, I'm forever trying to plug the charger in the wrong end!

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Re: Meh

>Meh - micro USB does the job, charges the phone. I don't need to spend five times as much for a stylish design that does the same job to make me feel smug.

Good for you. Now, spare a thought for anyone with poor eyesight and / or arthritis who finds microUSB a hassle.

I don't use Apple kit, but they've had two connectors in over ten years. This legislation is the result of the likes of Samsung never releasing two phones with the same connector. Apple were pre-emptive in this regard, the others had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept not only a standard power connector, but even a standard 3.5mm headset jack - and even now they mess it up by using resistors of different values.

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Re: Meh

Wireless charging plus bluetooth, anyone?

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Re: Meh

This legislation is the result of the likes of Samsung never releasing two phones with the same connector.

If that's the case they're about 7 years late. There are two types of charging ports on new phones right now. Guess who the one stubborn company that refuses to conform to the accepted standard is.

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Re: Meh

Meh, bog standard USB ports (you know, the sort that comes on PCs), are the real standard. You plug your cable into the charger that outputs to a standard USB port (and not one of these B, C, micro or whatever interfaces) and you are laughing.

The last thing I want is a proliferation of chargers that end up in a non-standard male connector. If all chargers had a female USB A socket on, then there would be less waste of charger bricks, and it would be a lot easier when you go abroad.

At the moment I can plug a lightning connector into the charger that came with the old Dock connector for my iPhone 3G, or into the charger that came with my wife's nook, the USB output of my Duracell battery charger (to run from AA batteries), the USB output that came with my car charger, or the USB output of my BioLite stove (and charge off twigs and wood). I can also plug the uUSB cable for the Nook into the USB output of my iPhone charger.

There is a standard connector, and it is USB A - it is what is on the other end of all the sync data cables. This allows you to dispose of the requirement for multiple differing switched mode power supplies.

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Re: Meh

The actual legislation probably won't specify the connector, just requiring a standard one is used and leaving the choice to be determined by whatever the EU equivalent of a Ministerial Order is.

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Re: I don't use Apple kit, but they've had two connectors in over ten years.

I find both generations of iPod/Pad/Phone connectors as fiddly and awkward as micro-USB

OTOH, Apple's magnetic laptop connectors are a great invention, especially if you're like me and prone to trailing laptops around the room whilst still plugged in. These connectors render tripping over the wire much mess of a potential disaster.

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Re: Meh

So which "standard" of connector are the EU suggesting everyone conforms to? The existing cables of today that'll be outdated by 2017? Or some as-yet-unknown standard that they'll think up over the next year, meaning that EVERYone will have to buy a new charger?

No one will have to buy a new charger, one comes with your phone when you get it. Just like the USB Micro/Mini transition, there will undoubtedly be another transition by 2017. There were no problems last time, except Apple being a twat.

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Re: Meh

"This legislation is the result of the likes of Samsung never releasing two phones with the same connector."

Uh oh, we found the Apple Fanboi.

Everyone else except Apple has been standardized, for what, a decade now?

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Re: Meh

Why don't they do something useful, insist every phone supports wireless charging, that way, no issue with connectors and a lot less waste as no wires to throw away.

Nice idea.....

now which standard for wireless charging were you thinking of?

Power Matters Alliance (PMA)

Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) (Qi)

Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP)

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Re: Meh

>Everyone else except Apple has been standardized, for what, a decade now?

Not even slightly, the last two Nokia phones I had (around 2006 & 2008) had different chargers from each other and they are both different from the Nokia that someone I work with has from earlier this year.

In fact, Nokia still don't quite have a standard connector across the board right now. Most of their handsets use micro-USB, but some of the cheap ones they still sell (like the 105) are using the older Nokia 2mm power supply.

NB This is not a defence of Apple, I'm just pointing out that other manufacturers have not been standardised for a decade, they aren't even standardised now.

I'd also like to point out that those that are standardised on microUSB still haven't standardised on power requirements, I have cables that will charge one handset and not another. In short, it's still a blooming mess.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh

Well I am not sure on how long they have been doing it, but as long as i've owned Samsung/android phone (about 3-4 years) they have had microUSB ports, before that I had multiple phones with MINI usb ports...

Before smart phones I agree, every phone that was not a nokia pretty much had a charger incompatible with other phones of the same manufacturer

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Re: I don't use Apple kit, but they've had two connectors in over ten years.

"Apple's magnetic laptop connectors are a great invention" but the invention is not Apple's. These were first used for kettles in the far east.

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Pint

Harruuuumph, Snort, Anon

Obviously you non-Fanbois have no appreciation for the fine quality Apple electricity these chargers produce cycle, after cycle, after cycle, after ... oh shit the battery is toast and the damn thing is glued down!

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Anonymous Coward

Missing the point here?

Are all batteries exactly the same?

Do they all charge at the same rate?

What about the amount of current a phone needs to work?

What about the various functions of a smart charger?

What about the output of the charger?

Colour of the charger?

Does that mean we will have to change every socket in the EU and have a socket standard?

Does this mean ALL manufacturers have to come up with and AGREE a standard?

Politicians really have no idea do they, this just illustrates their lack of understanding.

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Re: Meh

>Uh oh, we found the Apple Fanboi.

Er, no you haven't. Your powers of reasoning appear to be blunted by mulled wine, Bullseyed.

If I was an Apple user, I wouldn't be bothered by the redundant selection of data, power and audio cables, would I?

I've never owned any Apple kit - but I've had a range of phones over the last decade from Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, plain Sony, plus various MP3 players and the odd tablet - and I have a drawer full of assorted cables and headsets to show for it.

All I knew is that any petrol station or supermarket stocked an Apple charger (and many households and workplaces), whereas finding a charger for a Samsung XYZ (as opposed to a Samsung ABC) was a pain in the neck. I only know that because I owned a Samsung ABC, followed by an HJK, an RST and finally a Sammy that used microUSB.

Since you think that phones have standardised around microUSB for ten years, your judgement is very suspect - microUSB was only announced in 2007.

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>Well I am not sure on how long they have been doing it, but as long as i've owned Samsung/android phone (about 3-4 years) they have had microUSB ports, before that I had multiple phones with MINI usb ports...

The Samsung feature-phone I had in 2008 used a propriety cable, the one I got a couple of years later used microUSB. I did witness a friend with a Nokia candybar try and charge it over miniUSB a couple a few years ago, but it wouldn't work.

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Windows

Re: Meh

Mercifully, it seems one company is keeping abreast with Apple...

http://learn.adafruit.com/minty-boost/overview

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Re: Meh

"Before smart phones I agree, every phone that was not a nokia pretty much had a charger incompatible with other phones of the same manufacturer"

But all the non-smartphones still have those old non-standard power connectors, since they don't need to have a USB of any size. And that is where this will affect them all. I have a cheap temporary hanset from Samsung and another in the drawer from Nokia, both new and both have custom charger connectors. Neither have micro USB since they aren't smartphones.

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Re: Meh

> the last two Nokia phones I had (around 2006 & 2008) had different chargers from each other

Nokia are one of the better ones. They've had a total of 3 different power connectors, since at least the 2110 in the early 90s - 3.5mm, 2.5mm and micro USB. It took a simple straight-through adapter to go from the 3.5mm to 2.5mm and vice-versa - I was charging a 6230i (via adapter) from a car charger for a 2110.

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A tragic day

I'll always have fond memories of scrabbling around in a draw full of near identical looking chargers looking for the one with the mini-USB plug instead of the micro-USB plug.

Oh wait, no I won't.

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Facepalm

Thinking Different?

Nope, you're thinking wrong.

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Paris Hilton

I don't see the problem

What in the regulations stops them keeping the lightning connector to allow dockability and adding the usb port as well? As I understand it the regulations are that a standard charging port is available, not that it is the only way to charge the phone.

(Paris? Multiple insertion points available...)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't see the problem

Indeed.

The iThingy dock connector is a good way of getting the audio into your hifi without going via the headphone socket, using your audio remote to play/pause/etc the tracks and topping up the devices battery at the same time.

Ensuring that a manufacturer provides a standardizing charging port does not prevent them from having a custom port of their own design as well.

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Re: I don't see the problem

"The iThingy dock connector is a good way of getting the audio into your hifi"

You are mistaken - there can be no good way of getting the audio from a phone to a hifi. Any audio from a phone is lofi. :-P

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Facepalm

Topping up the device's battery at the same time

Unless you buy a second hand Bose speaker with iPod Dock - which doesn't charge the phone! Who thought *that* was a good idea?

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Re: Topping up the device's battery at the same time

Indeed. Nokia used to ship phones that had a miniUSB socket for data, couldn't be used for charging!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

You can put uncompressed and lossless music on a phone. Digital can be higher fidelity than analog. Sorry, facts is facts.

We can turn the downvotes into upvotes if we agree, preference to analog is an opinion. A fair opinion, but not factual. Or if the joke was the choice of music on an iPhone might be sub standard. Again, an opinion, but a better joke than "digital is lofi".

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Re: Topping up the device's battery at the same time

You've reminded me of my N95, which did exactly that!

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Happy

Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Excuse me but music usually starts off as analogue gets processed and ends up as analogue. Just how does digital add something to the mix. I've not seen many digital voice singers, where do they live?

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

@Dave 126 - what' d'ya mean used to?

I'm still lumbered with one (a crappy C2 which has come very close to being chucked at walls or through windows on several occasions), although it's micro-USB. Still can't charge through the bloody thing though (just like it's predecessor, and the one before that - in fact almost every damn Nokia dumbphone work has saddled me with over the years!).

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

There are few things - firstly, AFAIK, unless you are paying some silly money for a docking station, it actually takes the audio from your phone's analog outputs, not digital. Secondly, unless you are paying even sillier money, whatever audio does get converted from digital is then amplified by a decidedly non-hifi analog stage in the small dock and is then played through a very non-hifi set of small speakers.

In addition, these docks usually rely on introducing distortions (aka "bass boost", "wide", "EQ", dynamic range compression) to make it all sound more impressive for punters, which makes it all very, very lofi.

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Re: I don't see the problem

The iThingy dock connector is a good way of getting the audio into your hifi without going via the headphone socket

Bluetooth is even nicer and cheaper to do. Even nicer would be NFC + Bluetooth + wireless: put your device on your speaker and music starts or you just use your phone as a controller for the speaker which gets music from a local or online server: this is the way Apple is going anyway but it likes to use the connector as a shackle on consumers and manufacturers.

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Re: I don't see the problem

"Bluetooth is even nicer and cheaper to do"

Bluetooth was a bad joke for the first decade of its existance and has only really come of age foe audio work in the last 3-4 years.

Even today I find a lot of my kit seems to have trouble maintaining its connection. It's one of those annoying "It works most of the time" technologies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't see the problem

Just for the record. When I said hifi, I meant generically something that made the ipod output more powerful, not specifically something that delivered quality sound. And by connector I meant the slot in the bottom of the ipod not the expensive box, that Apple expect you to plug it into.

While Bluetooth may be something that works now (except it doesn't between my phone and the handsfree built into Hondas), a £10 adaptor lead that plugs into the Aux socket on a car headunit (as well as your CD player/TV etc) is a lot simpler to set up than Bluetooth.

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Re: I don't see the problem

The Ithingy dock connector was good in 2007 and bluetooth is good enough at the moment but Chromecast is the right way to do it in the future.

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Re: I don't see the problem

"Bluetooth was a bad joke for the first decade of its existance and has only really come of age foe audio work in the last 3-4 years."

Someone forgot to tell some of the manufacturers of portable keyboards that. I've just thrown out the last of my bluetooth keyboards and mice because the fuckers don't work. Or, not properly and consistantly anyway. The proprietary wireless USB dongles work OK (even from the same manufacturers) though, which leans my reasoning towards a bluetooth structure fault, rather than an inherent design fault of said equipment.

It's for good reason I keep saying that bluetooth was designed by the same idiots who designed the PnP (Plug and Pray) initiative back in the Win'98 days. They couldn't get it right then, they can't get it right now.

I'm guessing the plethora of modern audio based bluetooth gear (that work) is because manufacturers have finally managed to navigate the complete ballsup that is bluetooth.

Downvote away, for you *should* be counting yourself lucky you haven't come across as many badly designed BT devices as I have. And not all cheapies either...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Topping up the device's battery at the same time

That is because Apple went from firewire to USB charging. As much as Bose disgusts me, they did make the change due to market demand. You can probably send in the old unit for repair and have it upgraded unless you need to keep the firewire charging bit. Other changes have resulted in multiple versions of Apple's ic for communicating with the iPod/iPhone... which is also on Apple. Bose is still overpriced, but their stuff does charge. The original SoundDock uses firewire for the first year or two, after which, all other SoundDock and later versions use USB charging.

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Digital can be higher fidelity than analog.

Yes it can. And it only takes about 200mb per song to do it, so you can fit 3 or 4 songs on a standard CD.

I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I do moonlight as a DJ and I do understand music. Here's the truth of the matter: for the maximum listening enjoyment you need high end analog equipment (usually with parts they quit making decades ago), but realistically most of us won't be able to tell the difference between that and what a phone with decent (by phone standards) sound hardware puts out to a pair of $20 headphones.* Just whatever you do don't mix high end equipment with cheap headphones or plug a phone into an high end analog amp. Doing that is what sounds like crap.

*You can do it with earbuds too, but because my ears are funny shaped the things hurt me. As such I have no idea what an equivalent pair of earbuds cost.

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Actually you can fit between 74 and 80 minutes of CD quality digital audio on a CD. Ahem.

If you moonlight as a DJ, you'll also know that the punters on the dance floor probably don't care about the 20khz ceiling for 44.1khz digital audio, that probably isn't very audible amongst the groundshaking bass being pumped through a bunch of Peaveys or Kenwoods anyway.

Now if you're going to tell me that vinyl is better for cueing up and mixing stuff together, I'll probably agree. There is a reason that time coded vinyl is widely regarded as the best digital DJ UI. However, quality wise, a 128kbit mp4 probably exceeds the quality of a 12" EP or LP, and you can fit a whole ton of those on a CD.

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Stop

@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

You don't seem to understand the Lightening port. It ONLY outputs digital signals. Your dock needs its own DAC, so sound quality is as high as you're prepared to pay for.

My personal route is phone->Airplay->Apple TV->TOS Link->DAC Magic->HiFi. That's neither silly money nor LoFi. Everyone else is free to choose a solution that fits their budget & taste.

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

If you moonlight as a DJ, you'll also know that the punters on the dance floor probably don't care about the 20khz ceiling for 44.1khz digital audio, that probably isn't very audible amongst the groundshaking bass being pumped through a bunch of Peaveys or Kenwoods anyway.

Indeed. That's why my DJ rig and the several hundred gigabytes of MP3s it contains in no way resembles the equipment you'd find on a true audiophile's entertainment system.

However, quality wise, a 128kbit mp4 probably exceeds the quality of a 12" EP or LP, and you can fit a whole ton of those on a CD

Actually the record itself has perfect quality, at least the newer ones do. They perfectly capture the sound in the recording studio with modern equipment. The problem is that getting that quality back out requires very high end equipment. That's why true audiophiles tend to have things like $1500 turntables. Personally I'm inclined to settle for the slightly lesser quality that I can coax out of my phone or computer with the above mentioned $20 headphones.

I've heard the high end equipment and I have to admit that it is crystal clear. Believe it or not an LP on a $1500 turntable with a $2000 amp and $750 speakers sounds better than a live performance. Even so you'd have to be just a little off your rocker or insanely wealthy to have a $4250 stereo in my opinion.

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Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

@M Gale, yes I can fit between 74 and 80 minues of CD quality digital audio on a CD. In fact I've been making copies of some of my vinyl using two 44,100 16 bit samples/sec LPCM encoded channels because that lofi stuff is all most CD players can handle. It's fine for playing on low quality speakers driven by low quality amps;. But that doesn't mean you can get anything like 80 minutes of decent hifi aufio on a cd. It's possible in theory to get reasonably hifi digital audio, but generally not in ptactice. For example using AAC in mpeg4 container quality equivalent to CD quality can be done with rather fewer bits than a CD would use, so presumably a good jump in bit-rate would give decent (two channel stereo) hi-fi - but where is the gear to play that decent hifi? Similarly, 5-channel suround sound can be provided with that same low fidelity for about 40kbytes per second of sound, so presumably high fidelity would be possible with a jump in bit-rate; but no reasonably priced equipment to play it back exists.

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