back to article Europe approves common charger standard for mobe-makers

The European Parliament has signed off on its proposal to force mobile phone makers to adopt a common charging standard. The new regulation means that if mobe-makers' want to meet European standards for “radio equipment” they'll have to ensure their products will have to be chargeable using micro-USB. But there are ways out of …

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Suck it, Apple.

Everyone else already uses micro-USB.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

Nevermind that microUSB will be obsolete and replaced by the reversible Type-C USB connector before this goes into effect in 2017. That's the problem with mandates like that, they freeze tech in the past.

Imagine if in 2004 they mandated that a smartphone has to include a euro key, to make it easier to type in monetary figures, but they wrote it in a way that assumed a physical keyboard. No one would care in 2004, but 10 years later it would be a bit of a problem keeping the EU stuck in the past :)

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

> Nevermind that microUSB will be obsolete and replaced by the reversible Type-C USB connector before this goes into effect in 2017.

Yeah, honestly, never mind that. The Micro-USB is good enough. That the Type-C is smaller and reversible doesn't change anything. The options here are a) each manufacturer comes up with its own connector and its own standards, forcing us back to the charger hell of the early noughties, OR b) Micro-USB.

If down the road Type-C is found to be so much better that it's worth updating the standard, then by all means the EU should do so -- they can do that you know -- but the future existence of Type-C is in itself in no way an argument against having a EU mandated standard.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

Every time I plug my iPhone in to charge, I thank to high heaven that I'm not using one of those shitty micro-USB jokey connectors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Suck it, Apple.

Exactly right. It's not the job of the EU to impose stupid regulations like this one.

Where's the common power connector for everything else? laptops, toothbrush, mp3 player?

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@Mike Bell

Really? When you plug in your phone you pray to $deity just because you've avoided the second it takes to turn the plug round 180 degrees? And how long does it take to pray to $deity?

I also assume you never bought anything with an Apple dock in the past.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

>Exactly right. It's not the job of the EU to impose stupid regulations like this one.

>Where's the common power connector for everything else? laptops, toothbrush, mp3 player?

And they should have a common connection. It's bloody annoying if you've forgotten your laptop charger and you turn up at a client and they all use a different brand. If they all used the same type you could leave the charger at home and not have to carry it about. It also means that if you buy a new one and you have plenty of chargers kicking around the house you could save yourself some money and not buy another. Of course, some manufacturers will probably charge you to not have the charger, but hey, they could make a law forcing them not to.

This is exactly the sort of thing the EU should do. There are plenty of things that they shouldn't.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

>>And they should have a common connection. It's bloody annoying if you've forgotten your laptop charger and you turn up at a client and they all use a different brand.

So every laptop charger, no matter how small the laptop, should come with a charger capable of charging the largest, power hungry laptop?

I have a tiny netbook. No way will the charger for that work with a larger laptop, nor would I want to carry around a larger charger.

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Headmaster

Re: Suck it, Apple.

So every laptop charger, no matter how small the laptop, should come with a charger capable of charging the largest, power hungry laptop?

Why not? Every wall has a standard socket for you to plug your device in? More seriously, what is most important is electro-mechanical compatibility. One of the reasons why PCs were successful was the use of ISA (industry standard architecture) including the plug. The plug in the back of portable radios is also standardised. Why can't this be possible for notebooks et al.? So that you could drive a big 17" notebook from your netbook's charger? This would still allow bigger dedicated power bricks (for faster charging or gaming, say) but keeping cables common would reduce costs.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

Glad we've upgraded...

On the other hand, all of our smartphones now have micro-USB, so the 30-pin Apple connector isn't needed any more, so there is one charger in the kitchen and one cable in the car, not 2... Less tangled cables.

At work, on the other hand, I have one microUSB cable for all of the Android and Windows Phone devices we test, then a 30 pin Apple connector and a Lightning connector for the iOS devices...

I don't care if they scrap microUSB in the future and replace it with type C or Lightning, I want a single connector for all devices.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

"Every time I plug my iPhone in to charge, I thank to high heaven that I'm not using one of those shitty micro-USB jokey connectors."

-Evert time I plug my android phone in to charge I just plug it in and don't really think anymore about it...

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Re: Suck it, Apple. @Mike Bell

What makes them shitty?

I just did an informal poll of $house $devices, Samsung S4, Motorola Razr XT912, BlackBerry Storm 2, Samsung Stratosphere, four generations of Kindles (orig, 2012, HD, HDX), Acer A500. Everything except the Acer uses the micro USB, small side up. All 4.6-5 volts, except for the two extra-special-super-duper-$20-actually-nice 9.6 volt Amazon Fire quickchargers. Looking at the micro-usb, the small side 9-10 times has the USB icon (except for my fastboot USB cable, scorpion on that one ;)

It's much better than it used to be, I swear there were no feature phones back in the late 90's/early 00's that didn't have a oddball power connector.

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Re: @Anonymous Coward

I generally charge my phone in the bedroom while it is dark. I don't want any fruitless fiddling about wondering if the connector is the right way round or not, even if it takes just one second - assuming I haven't bent a couple of feeble pins in the meantime, that is. Whoever dreamt up D-type connectors needs shooting. Likewise for legislators who mandate their use.

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Re: @Anonymous Coward

>Yeah, honestly, never mind that. The Micro-USB is good enough.

Good enough? It could do with being less fiddly to insert, and less scratchy. For someone who has arthritis, an old 'Nokia' power connector is easier to insert, and thus fitter for purpose.

Lots of 'good enough' compromises eventually add up to a poorer experience.

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Re: @Anonymous Coward

@Mike Bell smartphones (and tablets) are banned from the bedroom in our house, that makes it a bit easier, no fumbling in the dark for USB cables...

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Mushroom

Re: Suck it, Apple.

Exactly right. It's not the job of the EU to impose stupid regulations like this one.
Erm ..... yes, actually, it is the job of the EU to impose sensible regulations like this one.

Otherwise, if manufacturers were able to use any connector they liked, untold misery would ensue; with a bunch of incompatible and proprietary connectors being used to ensure that the only replacement chargers available would be expensive ones from the original manufacturers (and whole rafts of devices could easily be rendered unusable at all, if the manufacturer decided to squeeze some more money out of you by discontinuing the supply of spare parts).

And no, the free market won't save you; because manufacturers would end up incorporating some "Intellectual Property" into their charging connectors, precisely to thwart third-party suppliers of compatible equipment.

Where's the common power connector for everything else? laptops, toothbrush, mp3 player?
That would be at the wall end -- the CEE 7/16 connector is pretty universal across Mainland Europe, although BS1363 rules in Blighty.

For all I know, you might bemoan having to buy your electricity at a certain voltage and frequency; but now imagine having to replace at least all your plugs, and possibly your appliances too, if you decided to change your utility company one day from one who sought to make it harder to switch by being the only supplier of their voltage and frequency..

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Re: @Anonymous Coward

Even if you can't feel which is the thin end and which is the thick end of the micro-USB connector, the phone's display probably will have lit up when you picked it up (or can be persuaded to do so easily enough) allowing you a few seconds to look at it.

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Anonymous Coward

"Everyone else already uses micro-USB"

Micro-USB is a shit solution, a failed experiment that hardware evolution should have taken care of by now. That politicians are artificially prolonging its lifespan annoys the hell out of me.

[ lost count of the stupid wobbly intermittent or plain broken microUSB sockets I've had to deal with ]

I as a consumer would prefer to retain a data cable for my devices. I hate the headaches that come with wireless connections.

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Re: @Mike Bell

Really? When you plug in your phone you pray to $deity just because you've avoided the second it takes to turn the plug round 180 degrees? And how long does it take to pray to $deity?

More like you try to put it in one way, doesn't go, flip it 180 degrees, try again, nope still doesn't work, flip it 180 degrees again and (finally!) it goes in.

I also assume you never bought anything with an Apple dock in the past.

The 16-pin connector was introduced in 2003 and retired in 2012 making a total of 9 years. As far as I can remember, no other manufacturers connector has come remotely close to lasting that amount of time.

Hell, even Nokia's 3.5mm one only lasted 6 years.

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Re: @Mike Bell

I don't know, we still have an awful lot of devices with RS232 and 432 ports, they were old when I started in computing back in the early 80s!

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Re: @Anonymous Coward @Mike Bell

>I generally charge my phone in the bedroom while it is dark.

Yes I've found none of the current generation of connnectors: Apple iPad2 and Micro-USB, to be particularly good compared to the old fashioned jack plug and it's variants, when handled in the dark.

I've also found that neither Apple's iPad2 and iPad4 sockets, nor the Micro-USB are particularly robust in the hands of an 8~10 year old boy - they tend to want to just push it in, as if it were a simple jack. - interestingly (and fortunately), I've discovered there are companies that specialise in replacing micro-USB sockets...

The D-type connector worked well in the larger format (RS232, Centronics, VGA etc.) but yes fails in the mini and micro forms, to me it is obvious that the solution was to simply copy the orientation key used on ribbon connectors, such as IDE and SATA cables...

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Re: big_D RS232

I know what you mean about RS232 and 432 ports - I've had plenty of dealings with them myself over the years. In good light looking more or less straight on, you can plug in an RS232 cable fine. If it's at the back of a PC or other piece of equipment with you leaning over, it's often guesswork territory.

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Re: big_D RS232

You should try it in the middle of a slaughterhouse, with pig carcasses swaying over your head and dripping blood, as you try and reconnect the bloody scale or Fat-o-Meter! :-P

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

> If down the road Type-C is found to be so much better that it's worth updating the standard, then by all means the EU should do so -- they can do that you know -- but the future existence of Type-C is in itself in no way an argument against having a EU mandated standard.

How is that any sort of improvement? A government mandated standard restricts the future to the past. Then when government "upgrades" the standard it then creates the same mess it claimed to be fixing.

Apple's Lightning is a no-wrong-side-up solution right now. USB-C could be a right now thing too if only others had Apple's foresight. Let the market decide, thats how we got to micro-USB in the first place.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

"imagine having to replace at least all your plugs, and possibly your appliances too, if you decided to change your utility company one day from one who sought to make it harder to switch by being the only supplier of their voltage and frequency.."

In the early days of domestic electricity supply, that was precisely the case. Even to the extent of choosing to go AC or DC. And then the governments of towns, regions and even whole countries mandated standards to make life better for the consumer.

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Re: @Mike Bell

"More like you try to put it in one way, doesn't go, flip it 180 degrees, try again, nope still doesn't work, flip it 180 degrees again and (finally!) it goes in."

I had to have a think about why my microUSB connector always goes in first time every time. It's because rubbing the connector gently between thumb and forefinger when I grab it allows me to feel the side with the raised logo on it so I know which way is "up". Oddly enough, I only just remembered that the connector for my phone in the car is opposite to the one in the house. Rough side "up" in the car, rough side "down" in the house. But I don't even think about it at the time. It's just one of those things you learn. Just like the many, many things you do without thinking when using your phone/tablet/desktop. You learn, it works, it quickly becomes automatic.

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Re: @Mike Bell

>So every laptop charger, no matter how small the laptop, should come with a charger capable of charging the largest, power hungry laptop?

No, every laptop come with an adaptor that can supply enough current for its needs. The tip of the cable should be peculiar to the voltage, unless a higher current draw demands a larger diameter connection. I have bought an after market laptop adaptor, and it came with 17 different tips - ridiculous.

If you buy a a candy-bar phone, you might get a 500mA USB adaptor, but if you buy a tablet you will get a 2.1A USB adaptor. Both are at 5v, and at a push the smaller transformer will charge the tablet... eventually. (though a Samsung Tab 10.1 will play dead for a couple of hours before it shows any signs of life)

Basically, a USB A Female socket denotes 5v.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

yes but!

is it only me that's confused by this 'standard'?

between phones, various sized laptops, cameras and mp3 players I've got at least half a dozen different incompatible micro-USB leads.

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USB plugs are in superposition

"More like you try to put it in one way, doesn't go, flip it 180 degrees, try again, nope still doesn't work, flip it 180 degrees again and (finally!) it goes in."

That is because both the normal USB and the microUSB plug exist in a state of "Superposition" and the end must be physically observed at in order to "set" just what state the plug will be. That is why it always works on the 3rd try.

Little know fact: USB plugs in the 3rd position will try to plug into Ethernet ports by default.

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Re: Suck it, Apple.

Really Mike, because the only thing I think about when I'm plugging my iPhone in to charge is "the battery is getting a bit low, I'd better charge it".

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All part of Apples plan

They can now sue every mobile manufacturer, as the micro-usb plug has rounded corners.

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It might be premature, but if this is implemented as "intended" or at least as I see it being intended, then thank you very much!

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Micro-USB is too flimsy

The Micro-USB connector was designed by Nokia and is the flimsiest piece of garbage imaginable, being much less robust in practice than the Mini-USB connector it replaced. Interestingly, the USB-IF is now working on a Lightning-inspired replacement (in terms of mechanical design, not necessarily the dynamic pin assignment or DRM).

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Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

They're still better than cigarette lighter plugs, though I like solder pads myself.

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Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

> the flimsiest piece of garbage imaginable, being much less robust in practice than the Mini-USB

I've never managed to break any of mine, but I guess it may happen. That said, Micro USB is rated for 10 000 insertion cycles, while Mini USB was rated for 5000 insertion cycles.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

Indeed. Having soldered a couple of Mini USB leads up I can imagine that internally the contacts of the even smaller micro USB are very small and flimsy.

The Apple plug can be cleaned easily.

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Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

The original Kindle Fires had bad micro USB connectors from the factory (23% by some accounts)-> recently had to send one off to be repaired/remounted. Takes a grounded soldering gun and a magnifying glass. I ain't that good lol.

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Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

That's apple all over. Design something that will fail in half the time but cost twice as much.

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Well intended but flawed desiscion.

Micro USB is flimsy. I buy about one per month as the plugs are a easily damaged such that getting only intermittent contact with normal wear and tear ( for me ) after 3 or 4 weeks on the road.

Getting it in in the dark is not always easy if you know what I mean !

2 years? It's an decade in internet time. something else will be along anyhow.

Apples lightening connector seems to be better engineered in every regard, although not sure on the first point as I have only just switched back to Apples universe after a couple of years using a Samsung.

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@ Hillman_Hunter -

Clumsy, are we?

Also:

> . . .

Apples lightening connector seems to be

. . .<

No wonder, it must weigh less . . .

SCNR

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@Hillman_Hunter

Hey, my grandfather used to drive them!

Anyway, I'm still using an old microUSB cable from 2008 to charge my Nokia and Samsung smartphones at home. I'm not sure what you are doing to yours!

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Anonymous Coward

How manay time do you use your connector and break it ?

I use one at work which has a t end with micro and mini. I plug and unplug at least 3 times per day 5 days a week and have for almost 3 years since I got my S2. Everyone who knows me says I am clumsy as godzilla in downtown tokyo. So if I havnt broke it I hate to think what you are doing.

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Micro USB is flimsy. I buy about one per month as the plugs are a easily damaged such that getting only intermittent contact with normal wear and tear ( for me ) after 3 or 4 weeks on the road.

Crikey, what are you doing, using the USB cable to hang the thing off a necklace?

After checking the statistics on the Ingress client, a game I usually play on foot, it seems I have managed to walk for the vast majority of some 350km (217 miles or 2531 Brontosaurus lengths) with a micro USB cable strung between the 36WH battery in one pocket and the Xperia Arc S in the other. Both still work and it's the same lead.

Try not buying your USB cables from Poundland. No really, those cables are a bit shit.

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WTF?

You're doing it wrong

I don't know what you are doing, but I've yet to have one fail.

personally, I'm glad to see standardization. I would prefer something that orientation doesn't matter, but, I usually takes no more then three attempts to get it in my phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Hillman_Hunter

I will raise you one, since I'm using a Nokia N85 cable, which was already microUSB, not the more popular N95 which charged on a round pin and used USB just for communication, in the world largest WTF.

Good thing that my dad bought the car charger with it, and today my Samsung(s) get charged even before I get home...

On second thought, very few things are not microUSB, and even when they aren't, they are mini-USB instead, (like my Tom Tom GPS), which is nearly just as ubiquitous, or have the full USB cable shipped with them, which is the mother of ubiquity.

Now I need some universal solution like that to unjam the traffic around here...

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Coat

And for non-compliance...

....a number of different charge[r]s will be applied.

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Coat

" ...a single pin sufficing for charging over USB ..."

I'm sure than two pins are required for charging.

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Re: " ...a single pin sufficing for charging over USB ..."

Yeah I'm not sure how they're doing that, I guess a VERY damp desk/table/whatever would allow earth-return...

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What happened to wireless charging?

Much better if the EU provided some arm-twisting (or even ARM-twisting!) to get all manufacturers to support a common wireless charging standard. Plugs and sockets are SOOO 19th Century.

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Re: What happened to wireless charging?

Mandating wireless charging would cost more in electricity wastage (wireless charging is not 100% efficient) than the equivalent environmental cost of manufacturing the plugs, I'd wager.

Mebbe in a few years when materials science catches up with sci-fi (I'd love a wireless charging enabled desk...that doesn't cost £100's) in which case bring it on - and include other devices in there too (laptops, tablets, electric car batteries ;-) ) etc.

Steven R

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