back to article Standard smartphone charger to dominate in two years

A new generation of smartphones capable of using the same charger - from manufacturers including Apple, Nokia and RIM - will begin appearing in the new year, following the release of European technical standards. The standards, based on Micro-USB, have been welcomed today by the European Commission, which says they will be a …

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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    A decade too late

    Why, in the name of glod, didn't they do this a decade ago? or two?

    Along with a standard file format for address book entries? That could be read straioght off the phone in usb mode, rather than requiring MS Look Out?

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Not too late

      Probably because two decades ago was 1990 and phones were scarce, 12 million people worldwide had one. Compared with now where the number is about 4 billion.

      One decade ago Nokia was the market leader, so it wasn't that much of an issue.

      As for why it is being done now, who knows. But it will cause problems for makers of iPod docks. It is why the iPod connector hasn't changed because so many accessories expect that connector to be there.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Vote with your wallet

      If this is important to you, buy a phone that does it - Nokia's N900 for instance...

      1. carl 10
        Unhappy

        N900 for instance....

        I know it was only a "for instance" but, it would have to be the only feature important to you for you to go for the N900. With the possible exception of the camera (although "only" 5 megapixel) everything else on the N900 was half-finished or poorly implemented (I previously owned one) and the fairly thin number of apps available to fill the gaps only helps a bit. Shame, because in some ways (32GB internal memory, TV out, FM transmitter) the N900 was pretty hot but the basic features of the phone were poor - if Nokia couldn't make the N900 actual phone features themselves easy and pleasant to use then they really are lost!

        As a long-term Nokia "fan" I was sad to go elsewhere, but the HTC Desire Z I replaced the N900 beats Nokia's recent half-baked, buggy offerings in every area (except for the camera maybe).

        Sorry, as a disappointed ex-N900 owner had to get that off my chest!

  2. Michael C

    nice

    iPhone 5 with a micro-usb connector, nice. or is it? The USB spec does not account for the watts required to charge most smart-phones while in operation, only with screen off. That means either very slow charges, or that they can't actually use the USB logos and advertise them as such.

    I'm all for a standard connector, and a standard charger capable of numerous voltages to support an array of devices (as the iPad and iPhone wal-warts can do), and phones that accept variable voltage input, but choosing a system limited to 5w is simply dumb. I'd have quickly preferred they standardize on the iPhone dock connector instead of USB. Better than charging, a universal multi-purpose port would have been a better idea, and could apply to many more devices than just phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you for real?

      USB is IS "a universal multi-purpose port". A proprietary iPhone connectior isn't.

      And USB not limited to 5w. There's a Battery Charging specification that allows dedicated charging stations to provide 9W, with no data support.

    2. Heff
      FAIL

      what the hell am I talking about?

      Err, what you're essentially proposing here is 'that instead of using wheels, why dont we design and build our own aeroplanes?'

      I also dont buy that it has to be limited to 5 watts. you're using the port hardware, not the standard*, whilst you could, in theory, charge it with a standard USB-to-microusb cable, I'd imagine that an Outlet-charger-to-micro-usb could, supply as much power as you liked. its a transformer and a pair of copper wires, yanno? you could even incorporate communication between charger-and-device to negotiate the power supplied, though I have absolutely no idea how that'd work in practical terms.

      Its sad that I know how much work port standards are but dont have a clue if you can even make variable-supply transformers. fail for my fail ^_^

      *IDK the actual terms of the agreement.

      1. Heff
        Boffin

        This was amusing.

        To find out I dont really know what Im talking about it but my guesses are still more accurate than your 'statements'? priceless.

        genius, because my fail > your smarts.

    3. stewski

      I can't say I agree

      My Tmobile pulse charges up just fine using micro USB. Hard to believe but some manufacturers are capable of supporting an existing standard without having a big stick waved at them...

    4. thesykes
      FAIL

      iPhone connector? Why?

      Why would you adopt a proprietry USB connector that's 10 times the size of a micro usb one, for the same purpose?

      It may surprise you to know that there are more people in the word who do not own an iAnything and have no connector cables. I do, however, have a micro-usb cable, a few of them in fact.

      And really, do you think that Apple would licence their connector for nothing to every other mobile phone manufacturer???

    5. Ammaross Danan
      FAIL

      You sir

      I take it you didn't read the part about being "based" on the microUSB spec? Likely, the "based on" part accounts for extra amps/volts/etc for in-use charging. Likely it would take lower power or higher wall-charger power. Of course, the iPhone won't use the usb connection for data, just for charging, as everything has to go through their special connector. Else they'd piss off a load of iGottahaves that bought the "old" <=iPhone4 accessories for 2x what they're worth.

    6. Stuart Halliday
      Happy

      Easy fix.

      Make the USB charger totally braindead, I.e. 'USB 1.1' so the charger can supply any amount of current and the phone gets charged. It's only USB 2 or 3 that requires the phone to tell the host how much current it needs.

    7. Giles Jones Gold badge

      USB is the limiting factor

      Has it escaped your attention that the Apple sync cable attaches to a USB port on a computer? so it is limited to what USB can supply, except for when you plug the cable into the mains charger.

      Firewire provides quite a bit of power in comparison and at 30v not 5v.

    8. John 104

      lol

      Wow. Apple zealot much? A USB charger that is just a wall wart charges my phone in about an hour. Attached to the PC it does deliver less amps/watts, but who cares? That is a secondary charging convenience. It is about time this happened, although most providers are already moving in this direction. Far better than the proprietary one off plugs designed specifically to generate frustration in users and money for manufacturers. Say bye bye to all the "special" plug items for i whatevers.

    9. Brian Morrison
      Thumb Down

      iPhone dock connector? Bah!.....

      ...the reason they didn't choose that is that it's absolutely enormous and has a lot of connections on it that are nothing to do with charging. Not a good choice at all.

      One thing that needs looking at carefully is some mechanical support for the charging connector and plug, if a phone falls off the surface it's on then the connector is very easily damaged by the rotational force unless the leverage applied can be prevented from acting on the micro-USB parts and instead be deflected into the phone casing.

    10. stewski

      I can't say I agree

      My Tmobile pulse charges up just fine via micro USB, some manufacturers are enlightened enough to support standards before a big stick is waved at them...

    11. Doug Glass
      Go

      Uh Oh

      Way too technical, and electrical theory oriented, for this bunch dude.

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      FYI

      Apples Ipod connector originally supported Firewire charging - there was a pin that could supply anything up to 30V and a lot of accessories used it. Apple soon got bored of having to support this relatively high voltage, and dropped the feature, insisting that the things be charged from the USB power pins. Many of the previously standard accessories then stopped working with new Iproducts.

      the 5 Watt limit is actually 5 x 150mA @ 5V according to my spec (3,75W), which is a bit low I'll grant you, but serves a purpose. Not that Apple give a shit, their Iphone takes up to 1.5 Amps from a USB socket, in flagrant violation of the spec.

      Oh, and finally, the Ipod connector is only available for authorised product and its supply is closely policed, not least because Apple want $3 royalty per accessory, and tying it to the proprietary connector is the easiest way to rake it in.

    13. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      "Think different"? "Think difficult", more like!

      I have some Apple kit but their instance on using non-standard port connectors is one of the worst decisions they made. Most portable devices have either of the two small micro-USB connectors, so why couldn't Apple standardise on that? Oh yes, they could extract sums of money from third-party hardware makers, which looking through the cheap Taiwanese/Chinese knock-offs on eBay ain't worked so well for 'em!

      The quicker Apple climb down just a few feet from their ivory tower and play just a bit nicer, the better we will all be.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        The dock connector does more than micro USB

        It also carries things like analogue video and line level analogue audio, which facilitate the majority of docks. Replace it with micro USB and you'd either have to add a variety of extra ports or require many docks to add USB, memory and digital-to-analogue hardware.

        Of course proprietary is bad and proprietary and licensed worse, but it's like saying that Microsoft should have replaced win32 with POSIX. The two may overlap in some usage patterns but otherwise are designed to provide very different functionality.

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Troll

      ugh...

      you know, I was reading what you were saying and thinking that you were making sense untill you droped the apple fanboi nonsense about the apple iphone dock connection....

      for other manufacturers to use the judas phone/fondle slabconnector would mean paying apple stupid amounts of money.... pushing the price of phones up.....

    15. Stuart Halliday
      WTF?

      Eh 5W?

      Where did you get 5W from?

      USB 2.0 spec. is 5V at a maximum of 0.5A. That is 2.5W.

      Luckily for mobiles/gadgets manufacturers it's easy to get around this limit by simply making the phone pretend to be USB 1.1 as far as powering is concerned.

      USB 1.1 lets the master decide what current to pass to the device. Nowadays this is often 1-2A. (5-10W) not the humble 0.5A it once was.

      USB 2 master has to be told by the device how many 0.1A units it wants (up to 5 units). Otherwise it just gets 0.1A.

      USB 3 allows officially up to 1.5A.

      But this hasn't stopped USB 2 power chargers being offered to the public which can supply 1A or even 2A!

      Quite frankly this is just asking for trouble.

      As you increase the current flowing in the cable, you get voltage loss in the cable and it of course heats up. Also increased risk of fires and plastic melting if there is a short-circuit.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Only Apple

    Isn't this a bit behind the times?

    Everyone except apple can already charge from the microusb.

    Sure, nokia give out a different charger, but they can still use the same as the HTC

    1. Len Silver badge
      FAIL

      A micro USB does not mean it charges

      My two month old Nokia C3 has a micro USB connector. However, it refuses to charge through it.

      I can charge my iPod from any PC but have to bring my proprietary Nokia charger with me to charge my brand new Nokia.

    2. Greg J Preece

      My current Nokia does both

      It came with a mains to micro-USB lead, a PC to micro-USB lead, and an adaptor that allowed you to use one of the old style Nokia chargers that everyone and their mum has. Not bad

    3. Colin Millar

      Not all nokias

      6303 - You can take it from USB (wall plug or computer) but it goes into a charger socket

      The micro connector is just for data and will not provide a charge.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Not all nokias

        While it is true that the wall wart plugs into a separate charger socket on the 6303, my 6303i Classic will also charge via the micro USB socket.

        It is doing so a I write this, plugged into my laptop.

        While I agree that a standard connector makes a lot of sense, it's a shame that they used the micro rather than the mini USB. I have loads of those leads around, but now I need another "special" one just for the Nokia.

        Perhaps tha price of phones can now drop marginally by not including a wall wart charger with every one that is sold. A standard charger can be purchased seperately should it die, and they are cheap enough anyway, but I certainly don;t need a multitide of those either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ @Not all nokias

          Mini USB is a horrible connector. Micro has a much more positive insertion due to the sprung bits on it, doesn't flap about and break connections all the time and is supposedly another order of magnitude more durable. And it's half as thick.

  4. The FunkeyGibbon
    Jobs Horns

    Apple are signed up? But...

    .... since when do they play ball? How does this affect the after-market sales of iJunk docks, clocks and other 'stuff'? Don't they all need to use the Apple proprietary connector?

    I don't see how Apple can be part of this at all unless they want to abandon their existing user base.

    1. Greg J Preece

      I'll bet you ten quid...

      ...that they keep the proprietary connector, and provide an adaptor to micro-USB for charging only.

      1. Doug Glass
        Go

        Yep, ...

        ... and pretty soon we'll have adapters to mate to adapters so we can all use the same cable for everything. Why not make all car keys the same but issue adapters as a standard option (isn't that an oxymoron?) so the one UCK (Universal Car Key) works for all makes and models? Then you can charge some huge sum for lost adapters and have as a marketing ploy that the vehicle uses the UCK.

        No thanks. Individual cables have never been a problem for those of us who live above the basement and can think for ourselves.

    2. Len Silver badge
      Stop

      Why not?

      Why would Apple not play ball? Do you really think they earn their money by selling people cables to charge their iDevices? Apple was in the first batch of companies to sign this MOU and I don't see why they wouldn't be. It only offers more convenience for their customers.

      Mind you, USB will not replace the dock connector, it will be in addition. Unless the USB standard body invents a new USB standard that offers the dozens of additional features the dock connector (analog audio and video signal? Firewire?) has but USB hasn't...

      http://www.allpinouts.org/index.php/Apple_iPod,_iPad_and_iPhone_dock

      1. Lance 3

        Clueless

        USB offers everything that the dock can do with the exception of analog. You can't watch a movie off of a HDD that is connected by USB? USB is just a means of transfer and a connector, it can do anything that the dock can do with a lot less pins. Why wold someone want analog anyway; digital content being converted to analog.

        1. Doug Glass
          Go

          Damn!

          Now I got to stop watching movies off my USB HDD. I got to stop reading this site, too many things I've enjoyed for so long only to learn from the resident gurus I can't do. Well frakk.

    3. Charles Manning

      Yet another adaptor?

      They could support this through a usb to ipod adaptor, but perhaps they won't.

      Changing the connector would lead to selling a whole lot of new add-ons.

      Even the standard connector does not have a standard placement. A speaker-thing I bought for my wife fits her ipod nano, but the connector position changed on more recent ipod nanos and does not fit mine.

    4. TonyJ Silver badge

      Have both for a while

      Having both types of connector on iStuff for a while would be the obvious answer, but supply new equipment with only a micro USB charger.

      Legacy docks and cables can be used for a while.

  5. jai

    so now i need two chargers?

    one for my iphone and one for my ipad?

    is this smartphone's only? so there's still billions of unsmartphones that'll need seperate chargers?

    or is the idea that, being usb, we shouldn't need chargers because we can just hook it up to our computers at home and at work... except, at work, we're so security paranoid that any usb device that is connected gets wiped and some encryption software applied to it which blitzed all the data on people's Android phones here. so we'll still need to use a stand-alone charger anyway.

    1. David Simpson 1
      FAIL

      D'UH!

      Yes but a standalone that can charge ANY phone, that is the point ! You shouldn't be plugging stuff in to work computers but with a common standard everyone at your work can share a common charger.

      Apple will just give a free adapter in their new devices you will still have your beloved patent protected dock connector.

    2. DRendar
      Boffin

      Just because it's USB...

      Just because it's USB doesn't mean you have to plug it into a PC.

      Nearly all new phones (except Apple) use a micro USB cable for both data and power, and they come with a Wall-Wart PSU with USB socket for mains charging.

      If you really want to charge up off a PC without making a data connection then either set your phone's USB mode to power only, or get a power-only cable. They are included with pretty much every "multi-phone charger kit" available in supermarkets for a few quid, and only connect to the Vcc+ and GND pins of the USB port, plus send enough power back on the signal line to let the phone know it's OK to draw power.

      I picked up an in-car multicharger from Morrisons for about £5, screwed the microUSB connector to it and have it connected to my Laptop docking station permanently at my desk. When I connect to it the PC doesn't register a new device so no risk of it wiping any files.

      Frankly, users who ignore security posts about connecting non-work devices to their work PCs deserve to get their phones wiped, if only to teach them to 'F'ing listen. I also find it very difficult to believe that any software would arbitrarily reformat / encrypt an attached storage device without prompting the user first - Deny Access to unencrypted volumes, fine, but just go ahead and wipe without prompting? I don't think so - unless your Desktop & Server people are both script monkeys and very, very stupid.

      And no - it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll need two chargers - I seriously doubt that Apple will remove their proprietary connector, they'll probably just have MicroUSB as well.

  6. Jim Coleman
    Thumb Up

    Interesting...

    ...to see Apple, the biggest user of proprietary connectors, on the list. And HTC, whose phones already use MicroUSB, not on the list. Hmmmmmmm...

    I honestly never thought I'd see Apple sign up to a standard that loosens their grip on the accessories market.

    1. John Riddoch

      Don't forget Sony...

      Sony is one of the worst companies for proprietary crap on phones. They still can't use SD cards like the rest of the world... yet somehow, they're signed up for this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not to be pedantic about it

        but SE has actually FINALLY stopped insisting on putting M2 slots in their new phones. Current releases such as the X10, the Spiro and the Zylo all take standard MicroSD cards.

      2. kevjs

        Sony do use standard stuff...

        My new Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i does use standard stuff - I.e. Micro SD cards and MicroUSB chargers - alas this means I no longer have a spare charger, but have about half a dozen fast port chargers lying around doing nothing...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    EU concerned for the phone users? Rubbish!

    This has very little to do with the announced environmental reasons. It is far more to do with getting a common plug connection on the phones. That way, forensic analysis is so much easier and quicker when Mr Plod happens on a phone.

    I've been drinking a bit much beer for the holiday, so lets allow the scary thoughts to go really wild ... Will we see a roadside version of the forensic phone examiner in the near future? What are the odds that at every stop and search (remember that they now have no need to pretend your driving has suffered from drink!) not only will they demand that you blow into their machine, they will also demand your phone and attach it to their machine, just to see if you have been ringing any of their known naughty boys. And of course to build up their knowledge of you as well, to add to the DNA database, and to the ANPR database, and to the last two years worth of internet activity and landline phone call records that they already have.

    Paranoid? Its the drink that gets me like that, but at least it makes those mental images of Big Brother go away.

  8. greenmoose
    Thumb Up

    a good example of bureaucracy being slower than technology :)

    it might be just me... but my current phone uses microusb, my old phone used microusb, my dads 2 year old motrolla uses this.. in fact only my iphone (and maybe lg) owning friends dont have a microusb charger! still, its been a long time coming and its nice to be able to charge most places i go! :)

    1. Armus Squelprom
      FAIL

      Nah, you're confusing mini & micro

      "it might be just me... but my current phone uses microusb, my old phone used microusb, my dads 2 year old motrolla uses this"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HTC are already using micro USB

    HTC are already using micro USB connectors, or, at least, a proprietory connector that can accept a micro USB cable.

    1. Len Silver badge
      FAIL

      But does it charge?

      My brand new Nokia C3 has micro USB but not for charging...

      1. Rattus Rattus

        @Len

        Yes, HTC use micro USB for both charging and data.

    2. Brian Morrison
      Boffin

      According to the HTC web site....

      ....all of their recent phones use:

      "Standard micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)"

      it's in the specification tab.....

  10. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Apple with Micro-USB

    Will it be a crippled charge only port or will it actually be useful as a USB port? Will it be added to iPods/Pads as well?

    1. Willy the Jackass
      Jobs Horns

      You can bet money...

      ...it will be "charge only." I think it would be added to all of their devices, otherwise there isn't much understanding.

      Which Micro USB port will it be? B I'm guessing? With so many Mini-B devices and cables already out there, is that really the smart way to go? What's the space savings between connectors? A whole 0.15X1.2mm? Wow, I can't wait to see thin things will get before they need to change again.

      1. kevjs

        micro usb. ..

        Micro usb has supposadly been designed so the plug on the cheap cable takes all the strain and eventually breaks, and not the socket on the expensive device like mini usb.

  11. There's a bee in my bot net

    Micro usb?

    Oh great. So that means I have to throw away all those mini USB chargers. A standard on which I settled several years ago. Any phone I have bought since has had mini usb...

    1. TheFirstChoice

      Except mini usb is crap

      The mini USB connection is designed for 5000 plug/unplug cycles, whereas micro USB is designed for 10,000. The phone I have with mini USB has a slightly dodgy connection after under 2 years' use such that it doesn't work with all mini USB plugs any more.

      Micro USB has also been designed such that the bits that will wear out quickest are on the plug connector rather than the socket - meaning you can replace a £3 charger rather than shelling out to get your phone's socket repaired.

      I'm also not sure why Apple insists on sticking with their huge dock connection that at the end of the day also isn't very good - can you imagine a small device trying to shoehorn that monstrosity onto it? HTC have managed to get a perfectly good number of connections onto a Micro USB form factor socket that happens to also be compatible with a standard Micro USB cable/connection!

      No point sticking with a standard that's just not very good.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Mini-to-Micro adapters

      You can get mini-to-micro adapters (and vise versa) for a couple of quid, so your existing chargers needn't be obseleted as you upgrade your equipment.

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/EMARTBUY-MICRO-COMPATIBLE-CHARGER-ADAPTOR/dp/B002E3F3G2/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1293643285&sr=8-6

    3. Sampler

      You can get mini-micro adaptors

      Admittedly look naff and cost as much as an A-micro usb cable but the one I have does allow me to use my old HTC car charger on my newer HTC handsets now they've moved from mini on my old winmo's to micro on the androids.

      The article says "based on micro-usb" - does that mean it will be a micro-usb or will it be subtly different as to having to replace my micro-usb cables I have for my Desire Z next time I get a phone? (though if HTC haven't signed up to the deal it may be a moot point as the last five phones were all HTC's :D )

    4. AdamWill

      inevitable

      micro USB is replacing mini USB anyway, whether this common charger thing happened or not. It's a better plug, apart from anything else; the pins in mini-USB sockets tend to get weakened over time (I've had several mini-USB devices which have suffered from this, you have to keep using a toothpick or similar to bend them back into place, and eventually they'll break off due to metal fatigue).

    5. Radelix

      Surely you havent forgor about adapters

      Same thing happened to me when I purchased my latest HTC phone. Micro USB so all my USB to mini USB are useless until a google search and $12 later all my charging cables are now adapted to my phone

    6. Stuart Halliday
      Thumb Up

      an opportunity ?

      Time to get out those mini to micro USB adapters then.

    7. This post has been deleted by its author

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: I have to throw away

      Or you could just get a mini->micro adaptor for a couple of quid.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nokia

    Has had both micro USB and 2mm barrel jack already couple of years.

    1. dervheid

      true, but

      As has previously been pointed out, and as is the case with my 5800, the micro usb doesn't support charging in every case. And anyhoo, wasn't this all promised at least a couple of years ago.

  13. Darryl

    LG's on the case

    My last LG dumbphone had micro USB, but if you plugged in a charger that didn't have LG stamped on the front, you'd get this big dire warning from the phone that you were using an 'unauthorized' charger and that you should only use LG brand accessories. And yes, they were the same power output - my wife and I both used her Samsung charger at home.

    Wonder if this happens on LG's Androids...

  14. Mark_W
    Jobs Horns

    Apple, really?

    Let's not forget that Apple also signed up as part of the Blu-Ray Disc Association but we all know Cmdr. Jobs' point of view when it comes to BD. They may allow you to use a micro-USB charger, but it doesn't mean your accessories will come with a Micro USB - I bet they all still use the proprietary iPod connector.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Heart

    Already has, in the US, for at least 6 months...

    For example, my TomTom GPS, my Motorola Droid phone, and a couple other things already charge through the same micro-USB style ports.

    My Droid came with a really cool charger that's a small wall-wart with a desktop-style standard USB port on it, meaning it'll take *any* USB cable as a charging cable. It's rather well made too, and puts out more juice than the usual chargers, so I bought a couple more online.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reduction of waste?

    So, assuming the point is to reduce waste, have these manufacturers also agreed to stop bundling chargers along with new phones?

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Why wouldn't they

      Anything to save a few bucks.

      On a less cynical note I was glad to see that my Pixi came with a micro USB cable, a tiny mains charger, and nothing else. If I want Useless junk I can buy it later on eBay.

  18. [Yamthief]
    Jobs Horns

    It's been a long time coming...

    ...and quite frankly I'm amazed it's taken this long! I have been wondering for the past 10-12 years as to why this didn't happen with mini USB connectors. My phone at the moment, among hundreds of other handsets, has a Micro USB connector so I'm glad to say it's already been rolled out by a lot of manufacturers (HTC, Motorola, LG, Nokia).

    [iHate] because I'm also really surprised that Apple have agreed to sign up as everyone knows they're ridiculous when it comes to having their own custom connections which cost an arm and a leg to get hold of!

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Why are people surprised?

      Apple ship every device with a USB cable and a wall plug that exposes a USB socket. So the USB charging route is already what they provide. Whether the European standard mandates a male or female micro-USB or whatever, it's just an extra cable. Doesn't change anything about the software stack or the device hardware.

      There's a rumour Apple will add a USB socket to the next iPad rather than continuing to supply it as an optional accessory, but that's an orthogonal issue and any such socket would likely be restricted to use with digital cameras, keyboards and audio in/out devices just as the current accessory is.

  19. Dazed and Confused Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Ah, but which micro USB connector?

    I've got millions of devices that use a micro USB connector, cameras, disk drives, GPS units, MP3 players, mobile phones etc.... They all use the same micro USB,

    Then the wife has an Olympus camera which uses a different one.

    Then I get a Nokia E72 which uses a micro USB connector to charge as well as get data and it's damn well different again and different to earlier Nokias. I assume this is the one that the Chinese made mandatory a few years back. My new head set also uses it and so does my son's Orange San Francisco and from the looks of it the HTC Desire the Mrs was looking at the other day.

    So I guess the EU are just falling in line with China, who, let's face make all these things.

    But why did it have to go and be different to all the other micro USB devices out there!

    1. Fuzz

      not all micro USB

      Your millions of devices that use the same connector use a _mini_ USB-B connector. This is the one shaped a bit like a trapezium with bent sides.

      Your Olympus camera most likely uses a non standard connector or a mini-A connector.

      Your Nokia and all the new phones you've seen use the new micro-B connector which is the one the manufactures have standardized on.

  20. Dale 3

    Buy your charger separately

    It's a great idea. You can be sure you won't get a free charger along with your free phone any more, so you'll have to buy it as an "optional extra", but I guess that's the point. Once you've got one (or two, to keep in alternate locations), you'll be able to reuse them for each upgraded phone and won't miss them from the box. Nice.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    HTC is mini-USB compatible

    it's called Ext-USB and includes pins for power, headphones, USB and can even (on some phones) do video-out or TTL-level RS232 (all of which have come in useful in the past- even the RS232).

    But it'll still work with a mini-USB connector.

    This seems the way forwards that people like Apple will take; proprietary connectors that'll accept a generic charging plug. That way they're [standard]-compliant, but can still control accessories for their devices if you want to do anything clever.

  22. David Simpson 1
    Happy

    Micro

    I think a lot of people here are misunderstanding the use of USB, the end that plugs into your phone is Micro USB the other end plugs in to a wall socket not a computer. But again any Micro to full size USB cable can be used which is a god send since you can buy wall sockets and plugs with USB on them now.

    Most smart phones already use this standard, My HTC, my wife's Sony Ericsson and my Dad's Samsung (not that new) all use it.

    Apple will not be leaving the dock connector behind they will just throw a free dock connector to micro USB adapter in for FREE ! Quite a change for Apple !

  23. ian 22
    Jobs Horns

    What does this mean?

    Call me cynical, but I predict that Apple will redefine micro USB to suit their own purposes.

    The new "light" is darkness, etc.

    1. Bullseyed
      Joke

      Re: Apple

      WITH THIS NEW AND MAGICAL CHARGER APPLE SHALL RETAKE THE WORLD!!!!!

      ...erm... Steve? That's a micro USB port. It's standard for all devices now.

      NO IT'S NEW AND MAGICAL AND I INVENTED IT. I SHALL CALL IT THE iPLUG.

      *shakes head*

  24. Jon H

    HTC use Mini USB not Micro USB

    As far as I know, unless they've changed with their most recent phones, all the HTC smartphones I've seen use MINI USB, not MICRO USB.

    It's the same mini USB size that fits a lot of devices like external hard drives. I've got loads of devices which connect via, run on or charge using mini USB, but not a single thing that uses micro USB so that's a bit of a pain.

    1. PJ 1

      Old ones yes, new ones no

      Most of the newer stuff (Desire, Wildfire, HD) uses micro. On the Desire it is quite a shonky connection because the port isn't really attached to the case, just the MB which has caused me some issues in the past.

      The older stuff (Tattoo, Hero etc.) uses mini.

    2. Rattus Rattus

      HTC

      I can tell you with complete certainty that my HTC Nexus One uses micro USB, not mini. As does my friend's HTC Desire.

      So, HTC have been making phones with micro USB for at least the last nine months, maybe longer.

  25. Nya
    Stop

    Based on micro-USB...how based on?!

    Hang on, this already occured when everyone (but Apple) moved to micro-USB already. Nokia, Sony, HTC, RIM, heck everyones already been using micro-USB for years now. But the worry here is the "based on micro-USB" part. You mean to say it's not actually micro-USB, just some fudged up version. If this is what they've done good on HTC for not going near it. We don't need some new fecked up system, we have one already. It works, use it!

  26. tfewster Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Ooh, ooh, let me guess...

    ...Phones won't come with a charger any more, as it'll be a standard accessory you can buy in any store. For about £50, as it's got a special "Universal" logo on it.

    Cynical? Conspiracy theorist? Yep.

  27. ObSolutions, Inc

    EU Harmonization? Hah!

    It's about 10 years ago that people in the industry told me that USB chargers would be standard in the future...

    ...because the Chinese gov't had basically given everyone the "opportunity" to switch before some date around now, or take their goods off the Chinese market.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      WTF?

      indeed

      all my phones charge just fine on micro usb. Oddly enough only using an ASDA cable - none of the supplied cables would work with all the phones.

      LG eve, samsung omnia, htc touch, HD2. Cant see the problem.

      1. Bullseyed

        Re: Can't see the problem

        The problem, as per usual, is Apple. And maybe Nokia.

        The rest of us live in the real world with standards and whatnot. Where things just work together without the proprietary Apple nonsense.

  28. Ef'd
    Jobs Horns

    Apple and USB

    I don't think Apple will outfit its products with a micro USB port. More likely, they'll throw in a mUSB-to-dock adapter and call it a day.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adaptors

    Originally I recall manufacturers being allowed to use adaptors to convert micro-USB ports to their own proprietary ones.

    Does anyone know if this still applies? If so Apple and the like are not going to be putting USB ports on their phones - they'll just use a little plastic adaptor containing a USB port, dock connector and 2 wires and charge 20quid for it...

  30. Britt Johnston
    Welcome

    soon, one in every home?

    I've always thought (well, since 1985) that low-voltage DC output should be part of domestic rewiring and new house plans. If we have a micro-USB on each socket in 2025, what extra goodies would be possible?

  31. David Kelly 2

    Good idea, but nothing new

    As others have observed, government and regulatory agencies are way behind the curve.

    Years ago China dictated that all cellphone like devices be charged via mini-USB. Thats how we got where we are today. Problem is that USB only has 5V and limited current. Many (including iPhone) now charge off 12V by using the USB data interface to signal to compatible chargers (including Macintosh computers) that the iPhone would like more than the usual 5V. It is *this* sort of thing that needs standardization.

  32. InITForTheMoney

    I dont understand...

    Why they don't just make it so that the charger unit presents a standard USB plug and the device vendor just ships a cable that can be used for both charge and for sync, the cable then plugs in to a USB port on the charger, isn't this what every vendor does anyway? Certainly when I've bought belkin / other third party charges they are a power block with USB socket and 2 cables, one with a mini usb, the other with a dock connector.

    This would be better as it's backwards compatible with most existing devices, same wall block for everything, just a different cable depending on your device. I don't see Apple using the mini usb connector, but maybe they will provide an adapter or separate cable.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Huh?

    The Chinese Government started mandating this back in 2007. As usual, Europeans are a day late and a nickel short.

    http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4071824/China-to-enforce-universal-cell-phone-charger

  34. Craig Vaughton
    Jobs Halo

    Adaptor?

    Apple may have signed up for this, but does the doubtlessly huge tome sent out by the EU actually say the standard charger must actually connect to the phone directly? If not, Apple will simply include an adaptor, with a dock connector on one side and a micro-USB socket on the other.

    That way they adhere to the letter of the EU edict, whilst keeping everyone with a dock of some sort happy at the same time. You really can't see Apple simply adding a separate charging port and hence another hole in the iPhone case, that would be too easy and spoil the aesthetics....

    So long as the EU don't finally get round to standardizing mains plugs and foisting some useless 2 pin, un-earthed plug on everyone, when the UK spec 3 pin is better, safer and doesn't fall out of the socket every chance it gets, I don't care.

  35. volsano

    Catching up with China

    Standard phone chargers have been compulsory in China for several years.

    We have the Chinese government to thank for taking this initiative.

    All Europe has done really is wait until the volume of business in China means manufacturers' were converging on a standard solution worldwide for simple economic reasons.

  36. styven

    port position

    Will they all put the port in the same place, in the middle on he bottom of the phone would be nice, just got my kids a cheap smartphone each, has the mini usb which is great but the port is on the side of the phone, no good fro any type of charging dock. No doubt Apple will still require you to use itunes even with a standard connector, unitl that has changed no i products for me.

  37. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not Again!

    Ever tried to plug one of these in if you have poor eyesight, or when you're half asleep, or in the dark, or in a hurry?

    Why the f**k do these people absolutely insist on using the most inappropriate connectors for everything?

    Come to think of it, are there any real design engineers still in existence?

    1. Thecowking
      Happy

      Yes, every night.

      Never had an issue.

      It's a plug that only goes in one way and you can only really get it wrong once before you flip it over and realise that the other way is the right way. Less than 3 seconds to try it twice and the same charger works on my kindle and Nokia phone.

      FYI I'm extremely short sighted, but that doesn't matter since I can plug/unplug my phone in pitch darkness because it's not exactly the greatest test of manual dexterity. For what it's worth the very narrow old pin style Nokia chargers were a bugger because they were so small and slipped off the case when you were trying to find the socket.

      1. irrelevant

        +1

        I plug my micro-USB phone into charge every night in the dark without issue - I even get it the right way around the majority of the time. Much easier than plugging in the N95 I used to have where it was a hunt for the teensy little hole every time, and which used to fall out again if you so much as looked at it ...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    it's about time

    next step: outlaw proprietary audio connectors. Standard audio connectors were invented for a reason, use them or swivel on this. And of course, if your shit has a USB port, you have to use a USB connector. Not some random connector you invented that looks like USB but is 2mm wider or some dumb shit like that. How much did it cost you to come up with that "brilliant" new connector? Was it really worth the millions you'll lose when your customers realise that you are a fascist? I didn't think so either!

    And then: outlaw proprietary ink cartridges. Every printer should have a refillable ink tank. No one needs a printer to cost £30. People would pay the £200 it actually costs for the machine if they could run it for a fiver a year. And there's no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to. Treat your customers right for a change and they might stop treating you like shit (novel idea).

    And if your company makes billions, you're not allowed to use proprietary file formats anymore either. You can damn well suck it up and learn how to play fair like the rest of us.

    Docks can be proprietary but not DRM'd. If I ran the planet, you would have to publish the specs for your dock so anyone could make one. If you lose money, well tough shit, maybe I actually want you to lose money. Think about that.

  39. OpenSauce

    Old nerws?

    I could be wrong, I thought I read about standardisation of smart phone chargers at the beginning of the year?

  40. Greg J Preece

    HTC

    "The biggest smartphone maker that is not a signatory to the MoU is HTC."

    That said, don't all their phones charge off micro-USB already? Or are the new standards far enough off micro-USB that the two will be incompatible?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smoke and Mirrors

    It is my understanding that manufactures are allowed to provide an adapter that converts from micro-USB to whatever connector happens to be on the phone. In other words, Apple will still use their dock connector, but will bundle an adapter instead of a full blown charger (or in addition to - thus actually increasing future WEEE).

    Since all Apple iGadgets can charge via USB (via the included adapter cable), this doesn't seem to affect them in any noticeable way.

    Of course, I would love to be wrong and for all signatories to be required to have a micro-USB port on the device itself. Bye-bye proprietary connectors (if not bye-bye proprietary protocols...).

  42. Stratman

    title

    That's what I like about standards. There are so many to choose from.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    Smoke and Mirrors (Addendum)

    From http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/rtte/files/chargers/chargers_annex_ii_to_mou_january_12_2010_en.pdf [458KB]

    (EPS = External Power Supply)

    "2. DC Plug Connector Specification

    The cable assembly shall terminate in a Micro-B plug.

    ...

    An EPS provided with a detachable cable shall be equipped with a USB Standard-A

    receptacle. Standard detachable cable assembly, supplied for use with the EPS,

    shall have Standard-A and Micro-B plugs

    ...

    Above requirement also applies to detachable cables used as adaptor [sic] i.e. where the

    Micro-B is replaced by a proprietary plug"

    Note the last bit. Manufacturers are allowed to provide an adapter that plugs into the phone and accepts a micro-B plug.

    For the (sensationalist) headline writers: "EU allows iPhones to keep proprietary connector"

  44. streaky Silver badge
    FAIL

    MicroUSB

    Sorry everybody uses microusb now, including HTC who are apparently not signed up even though they've been doing it for years and are still doing now (my current HTC phone and the one I literally ordered 10 minutes ago both have microusb).

    What exactly is the problem here? Or is it a case of solving a problem that doesn't exist with a crapload of pointless legislation translated into 84 different languages which is apparently good for the environment?

  45. Rick Leeming

    Apple agreed to this years ago

    As above, they agreed to do this before the iPhone 1 arrived on the market, then ignored it totally. They'll lost out to the market that buys the new data cable every 6 months because it's broken, again.

  46. Rob
    Go

    HTC have already started

    HTC probably didn't sign up because they appear to have this already on their roadmap. They used to do all their phones with miniUSB slots but their latest models seem to have switched to microUSB, they are throwing in a cable and plug so it gives you the option of wall or computer charging/sync'ing (obviously I referring to the sync'ing of the computer and not the wall).

  47. Colin Critch

    micro USB not robust enough

    Micro USB may not be robust enough. On the ZTE Blade ( after a couple of months use ) the contacts have become interment, this is because of the lateral flex you get with a non-round connector. I welcome standardisation but these sockets have to be robust.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    And once we've sorted phones

    can we please ensure that all other low power domestic gadgetry has the capability of running from Power over Ethernet chippery?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Europe catching up with Asia?

    Didn't South Korea require this about half a decade ago?

  50. jphn37
    Pint

    yes, to EU regulators

    Thank you EU.

    The US has such an unnatural aversion to regulation of industry that there's no way a common standard would have developed on its own. Proprietary connections look good to the CEO types, but they ultimately end with disappointment. iProducts will end up needing two connection points for years and years now. They've painted themselves into a corner. And to think, they could have freely licensed their connector to any and all . . .

  51. Jean-Paul

    So what

    I've got USB chargers plugged in around the house, some from apple, some from htc, some unknown brand. I've been charging like that for years with various devices.

    I'd rather kept the full size USB plug as it is robust and easy to just shove in, but hey ho. Oh and to the idiots crying about apples prrietary plug. The spec is open, fully accessible by anyone, only requires licensing costs when you want to carry the logo, is fully USB and FireWire and audio/video and remote control compatible, just hook up a different lead to get what you need. Just imagine how bog devices had to be if all of those were separate port?

  52. Dean 4

    The title is required, and must contain otters and/or stoats.

    The chargers work by having a low value resistor between the data pins. (typically ~100 Ohms) thus letting the device know that they are plugged into a AC charger and it can draw more current then normal.

    I'm thinking this is becoming standard as both my Galaxy S and my Desire can both tell the difference between either a AC charger and a USB port. and both charge happily from any of them, (slower from a USB socket obviously).

    Both came with a micro USB lead, and a charger each, (The Samsung with a charger with a plug. The HTC with a socket on the charger to plug the standard USB lead into)

  53. Stuart Castle
    WTF?

    Good idea, in theory.

    While I applaud the idea of a standard charger, I question the use of Micro USB.

    USB, as a connector is quite fragile. It's all very well using it for data transfer. If it gets broken, you can either do without data transfer, or use Bluetooth.

    If it's used for Power as well, how do you charge the phone. Apple's Dock connector has the advantage that it is a lot harder to break.

    Personally, I think the more logical idea would be to do what Apple are actually already doing. Provide a charger with a USB 'A' socket. It also raises the possibility of new electrical sockets offering USB A sockets as well (which some already do).

    Think about it. One of the stated aims of this standard is to reduce the amount of waste involved in the production of chargers and cables.

    Most (if not all) smartphones come with usb cables for data. If they are planning to provide a power supply with built in cable, the resources wasted world wide will be significant, purely because most people will have two 1 metre cables where they only need 1.

  54. Dward

    EU a bit late...

    The rest of the world started doing this in January 2010... Every HTC phone I've ever seen already charges by Micro-USB, so I don't know why they haven't signed up. We have a Sony Ericsson, a BlackBerry and a HTC Desire in our house and they all charge from the same cables, so we keep one cable in the socket, one in the car and one connected to the PC - much better than it used to be. I thought Apple were the only ones not on the bandwagon so that they could continue ripping people off!

  55. chrisjw37
    Grenade

    About bleeping time

    Its a no brainer.

    About bleeping time you idiot boys of corporate greed, about time.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    HTC

    HTC has been using micro-USB cables for charging because of the Chinese government requirement, started back in 2007, that all cell phones sold in China had to use USB chargers.

    http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4071824/China-to-enforce-universal-cell-phone-charger

  57. Steven Pemberton
    Thumb Up

    Thanks EU!

    I just want to thank the EU for enforcing this. They get so much flak from a lot of people, that it's good to recognise them for their valuable things (while I'm here, I'd also like to thank them for the 750ml wine bottles, in the days that the wine industry was steadily reducing the amount per bottle, to 690ml and less).

  58. leexgx

    nokia

    i think nokia are the only company that are not using Mini USB for charging that is

    annoyed me when i plugged my USB charger into the USB Mini port, come back 1 hr later to find out it did bugger all you can not charge an nokia phone with USB mini, it has that Very poor 2mm round charge connector that bends and brakes Very easy, dono why they did not stick with the 5-6mm connector they have been using for an Very long time or fully switch to USB power why waste second port, for power do what Sony X10 has done (Not HTC with there Poky powerpack it points directly out not downwards like an norm charger do) as both have the option for power and pc

  59. Cliff

    HTC

    Fwiw my HTC Desire Z came with probably the best designed micro-USB charger I've seen, so even if they haven't signed up formally, they've moved over from the mini-USB they used to use on all the smartphones I've had from them to MicroUSB.

  60. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    It's a business opportunely

    Time to start mass producing all those Micro-USB sockets to various phone plugs adaptors me thinks.

    I bet Maplin Electronics is already on it!

  61. Kamal Hashmi

    The Wonderful Thing About Standards .....

    is that there are so many of them. ;-)

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