back to article EU move to standardise phone chargers is bad news for Apple

In a move that'll be cheered by phone users the world over, the European Union has decided that mobile phones should have a standard charger plug. In a unanimous vote, the EU's Internal Market Committee decided that there's no good reason the charger should be treated as a proprietary secret. As German MEP Barbera Weiler put …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standardised connector

    What we'll end up with is something with all the appeal and elegance of a SCART connector.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. cosymart
      Meh

      Re: Standardised connector

      Or a car power socket....

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector

        @cosymart The "car power socket" inherits its shape from its original function as a cigar lighter. The size was presumably the diameter of the fattest cigars.

        I once took a job where I inherited the company car of a cigar smoker. No amount of steam cleaning could rid the interior of the vile smell. Also, the car was a clapped-out Volvo with burnt orange paintwork. The only solution was to find a new job.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector

        > Or a car power socket....

        More and more cars have USB connectors today...

    3. Vociferous

      Re: Standardised connector

      > What we'll end up with is something with all the appeal and elegance of a SCART connector

      No, we'll end up with micro-USB. As on the non-Apple brands who signed the deal to standardize connector.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector

        "No, we'll end up with micro-USB"

        With all its attendant problems about plug flexing breaking the contacts on the board by fracturing solder joints.

        I've had to rework the solder joints on several mobile phones. The existing SMD designs just aren't built for this kind of activity.

        What about wireless charging standards?

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector

        No, we'll end up with micro-USB. As on the non-Apple brands who signed the deal to standardize connector.

        Good start, however the EU is looking into standardising phone chargers. A charger is more than the connector at the far end that plugs in to the phone. Most phones these days suck more power through a micro-USB than the USB spec allows for, and different phones want different juice. Most will charge with the stock USB max power (5V@900mA), but the newer and beefier phones are looking for 5V@1.5-2A.

        So what will my "EU universal phone charger" look like? What current will it push out, and what will happen when someone plugs a regular USB device in to it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Standardised connector

          >So what will my "EU universal phone charger" look like? What current will it push out, and what will happen when someone plugs a regular USB device in to it?

          As far as i can remember nothing, your regular USB device will draw the power it needs. The @n.nA rating is a maximum that can be drawn it does not push.

        2. Stuart Halliday

          Re: Standardised connector

          That's why proper USB chargers put a 150 ohm resistor between the data lines.

          When the device senses this, it assumes it is a high ampere charger.

      3. Frank Bough

        Re: Standardised connector

        You're right, but there's no reason imaginable why the EU should be meddling with the type of sockets, on our consumer electronics. Complete waste of money. EU needs to sort out its finances before pissing about in areas like this.

        1. Steve Evans

          @Frank Bough

          They are trying to sort out their finances...

          What better way than to line up one of the most profitable companies in the world for failure to comply?!

    4. HMB

      Re: Standardised connector

      > What we'll end up with is something with all the appeal and elegance of a SCART connector.

      It's all well and good being facetious about it, but you could quite legitimately attack the poor implementations of Micro USB instead. I've had to replace the Micro USB port on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus already because it failed.

      The notion of one connector to rule them all for charging is kind of nice in one sense, but it must be acknowledged that this move could harm innovation in the future.

      I've never bought an Apple product, but I recognise that they may quite legitimately have simply tried to improve on Micro USB.

      Including a microchip in the lightning charging cable to prevent cheap cables being made though, that just makes them assholes. Would it really be so hard for Apple to sell reasonably priced charging cables from the get go?

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector

        " I recognise that they may quite legitimately have simply tried to improve on Micro USB."

        They tried to improve the cash return over using Micro USB....

      2. danbi

        Re: Standardised connector

        > Including a microchip in the lightning charging cable to prevent cheap cables being made

        Of course, there are no chips in the lightning to USB charging cable. Lightning to USB cables are sold at prices about 1 UKP on Amazon and elsewhere.

        There are chips in the (say) Lightning to audio or video cables, because the interface is an all digital bus, and you need some digital to analog conversion to get out these formats. Such chips would exist on USB interfaces in devices that support it.

        Funny enough, all of Apple's devices do charge over USB only so why are they picked up in stories like this? Perhaps because mentioning Apple generates more clicks...

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Standardised connector

          Apple chargers are USB at the wall socket end, but not USB at the iDevice end of the cable, so you need a different cable to charge it.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: Standardised connector

            I'm not sure everyone here has quite kept up with the news.

            This is Apple's solution for shipping EU-compliant chargers: http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MD820ZM/A/lightning-to-micro-usb-adapter — micro-USB goes in one end, the proprietary lightning comes out of the other.

            There's no bad news for Apple here. They'll put the one very small external thing inside the box instead of the other.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Standardised connector @HMB

        >but it must be acknowledged that this move could harm innovation in the future

        Complete twaddle, they are talking about the charger port, nothing else. There is nothing to stop apple from keeping their existing 560 pin proprietary interface or anybody else sticking on any other sort of innovative patented port they like. All they have to do to comply is stick on, most likely, a micro usb port that you can plug a standardised charger into.

      4. Heya

        Re: Standardised connector

        The phones just have to be power-pin compatible with micro-usb [0]. They don't have to use micro-usb for data. People are still free to innovate if they want, it's just their devices will always be able to fit a standard micro-usb for charging purposes.

        [0] Or whatever design the deign to accept as the standard.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standardised connector

      Ahh because the 30-pin iPod connector is so small and elegant!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Standardised connector

        You mean the old (10+ year old) connector - remember that was when everyone else was using SCART, serial cables etc. At the time it was fantastic - power and data (plus audio and video) on a single dock connector that was very widely adopted (and copied!!).

      2. Frank Bough

        Re: Standardised connector

        That connector's been superseded for over a year now, do try and keep up.

    6. Stephen Channell
      Pint

      Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

      When the EU started this process, the target was actually Nokia who produced a new charger every-time they changed the amps for each new battery. The EU consulted the vendors who unexpectedly suggested USB as the standard because all their new Symbian smartphones would need to connect to a PC anyway. After quit a lot of haggling they settled on micro-USB (I preferred mini-USB)

      Apple wasn't in the discussion because even they didn't think the iPod-with-a-phone was going to replace real work phones.

      As EU meddling goes, this has got to be one of those all-time great success stories.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

        "the target was actually Nokia" No that is rubbish. Nokia agreed on a global standard. The Nokia chargers still work, all they did was to make a smaller pin, but adding a 10 cm piece from a larger pin to a smaller one still works, and with a pin you need not fight about how to turn it. I was happy about the USB becoming a standard. The number of chargers we have is staggering and if you loose one for your laptop or something then you pay dearly for a new "official" one. (for no reason at all), The problem with USB I have is that when I connect it to a laptop for charging, I also connect it to the internet. Anyway, "every-time they changed the amps for each new battery" is completely rubbish too. So far the only intelligent connector for charging is that damned simple pin but I can understand if one wanted more with that space. And while we discuss things which should have been solved some twenty years ago we are pissed again with competing standards for wireless charging. We are always pissed. Eventually, perhaps, not from the same direction, but always from some direction.

        1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          Forget the extra pins hack for charging. USB already has a trivial mechanism for specifying current. When the data lines are active, power is negotiated via USB protocol. When the data lines are shorted together in the charger, power is regulated via voltage droop. That is, the device draws as much power as it can without the voltage going out of spec. The charger lets the voltage droop when it's at its limit. It's taking advantage of two features - over current protection and under voltage protection - that are already efficiently implemented in many switching power supplies. It also means that a stack of solar cells and a 5.1V zener diode shunt works perfectly with out any fancy tech. Imagine getting that approved by Apple.

          1. danbi

            Re: Imagine getting that approved by Apple.

            Did you ever know, that all Apple mobile devices, except some very early iPods charge via USB only?

            They also implement all the current regulating techniques you described.

            So go ahead, charge your iPhone with the solar cell and a zener diode (that must be pretty powerful and big diode, by the way -- or it will blow out at dawn).

          2. Stuart Halliday

            Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

            Eh? What happened to the use of a 150 ohm resistor between the data lines?

        2. Stephen Channell
          Meh

          A great success for the the EU

          The EU sausage-machine has been working on this one for the best part of a decade. way back at the start of the process was euro-MPs who had separate phones for {Home; Strasbourg; Brussels} moaning about having to pack several charges or borrow ones when they'd packed the wrong ones. Way back then, every generation had a different charger with difference size pins and power rating (I had {2140, 3110, 3210, 6310} all with different chargers), and as Lars states, Nokia was happy to change.

        3. AbelSoul
          Coat

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB (@Lars)

          > We are always pissed.

          Perhaps that's part of the problem.

        4. DButch

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          You can get connectors that only implement the charging part. Problem is, you always wind up with one of them when you actually want to connect to your computer...

      2. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

        I too preferred Mini-USB. Micro is too fragile.

        I now have a pile of 8 Mini-USB chargers and 20+ cables that are no longer of any use.

        Never quite understood why micro came along, it's not like thinner and thinner phones are a good idea...

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          Micro USB should be more robust, as it was designed for much higher plug/unplug usage. (5000 for Mini, 10,000 for Micro, see page 23 of the spec here: http://www.usb.org/developers/devclass_docs/CabConn20.pdf)

          Personally I've never broken a micro-usb port, but I've had numerous mini-USB ports break, mainly from the female connector detaching from the board it was soldered to.

        2. Stuart Halliday

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          Mini USB is a horrible connector. The weight of the plug breaks the socket over time and wasn't designed to be plugged in and out very often.

          Micro USB was.

      3. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

        Actually it was well-known for a long time starting late 90s / early 2000s that any Nokia charger would fit any Nokia phone. AFAIK they only changed to a smaller-sized one in the late 2000s. Some of their competitors (particularly Sony-Ericson I think) had almost as many different chargers as they had phones.

        In any case, it's effing ridiculous to have to include a new charger with every phone. I bet the majority of households all over the developed world have a little drawer with up to a dozen old and no-longer-usable chargers. Micro-USB might not be perfect but I much prefer a world in which a phone does not need to be shipped with a charger even though transferring files takes 5 seconds longer.

        1. kevjs

          not Ericsson either

          Since the 1990s Sony Erricsson have only had three charger types - the old Erricsson one used by the t68, my brother's late 90s Ericsson, and the p800; the fast port charger used by the d750 (iirc), k800, k810, c905 and loads of phones of the same era, then the micro usb on the Xperias

        2. Fai

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          Just to correct you, Ericsson from 2000 (and thereafter as Sony-Ericsson) only had two types of connectors before standardising on Micro USB. The latter of the two appeared around the time of the first Cybershot/Walkman-branded phones.

          Sony, before Sony Ericsson, had their own connector.

          With Nokia in the early 2000s, it was pretty much expected that if you asked someone if they had a spare Nokia charger to top up your phone, you'd find one. Several years later on , it was pretty easy to find Sony Ericsson chargers when the Walkman phones embedded themselves into the public consciousness.

        3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

          I bet the majority of households all over the developed world have a little drawer with up to a dozen old and no-longer-usable chargers.

          Er... I don't think I'm terribly unusual, and I have nearer 100 than 10.

          If you don't throw them all away when the consumer item dies, and if you have kids, a dozen is a very small number...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

        What complete rubbish - Nokia have only had three chargers, one of which was micro-USB. You could have chosen literally any other phone manufacturer and got away with that statement, are you trolling?

    7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Standardised connector

      Yeah, right. Just like 30 pin (or 16 pin) monstrosity has any elegance whatsoever.

      I would have preferred if they settle on mini-USB as it is generally more sturdy.

      In any case, USB can support data at rates necessary for audio, video, storage and networking. So as a last resort, you can implement nearly any "innovation" as network protocol. A good example here would be Mirror Link - something which is years ahead of anything Apple themselves are doing.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple

      Apples charger connection is supposed to be smart and can be 'programmed' for different functions.

      While the EU thinks this might be a good idea I doubt that it would be practical.

      Imagine every charger is made the same, well what about the advent of new technology in the future. How do you go about telling 20,000,000 manufacturers that they must comply and change production as one. It is one of those 'ideals' that will fizzle out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple

        Except there are maybe 5 manufacturers (okay, I didn't check the exact number :-), that build the 20,000,000 *brands* and slap the right sticker on the box.

        So perhaps not as difficult as you believe.

        Also, the micro-USB port on my cell phone can also be used to do HDMI output. You can do programmable functions, all the while using a standard connector.

        So perhaps not as difficult as you believe.

        I'm not too worried about technology. SCART didn't prevent HDMI. When needed, changes will happen (and they will probably happen wirelessly, which will make your worries moot).

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        WTF?

        re: 20,000,000 manufacturers

        I imagine I could compile a list of about 50 mobile phone manufacturers. Assume my list is incomplete, and that there are 500. Who are you other 19,999,500?

    9. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Standardised connector

      "\What we'll end up with is something with all the appeal and elegance of a SCART connector"

      At least that was better than the American bodge of a dozen + RCA connectors to do the same thing...

    10. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Standardised connector: SCART

      That was Peritel, a French attempt to block imports to France.

      1. PeterM42
        FAIL

        Re: Standardised connector: SCART

        Ah! - the Froggies, so THAT'S why SCART is CRAP.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Standardised connector: SCART

          @PeterM42: "The Froggies" it's not the sodding 70s you know, do try to be a little less xenophobic.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Standardised connector: SCART

            @PeterM42: "The Froggies" it's not the sodding 70s you know, do try to be a little less xenophobic.

            Quit right. He should say "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".

            1. TheTick

              Re: Standardised connector: SCART

              @Kubla Cant

              Quit right. He should say "cheese-eating surrender monkeys"

              No no - now they are "America's oldest ally" since we Brits told the yanks to piss off over Syria.

          2. Ted Treen
            Boffin

            Re: Standardised connector: SCART

            @AC 10:34

            "...do try to be a little less xenophobic...."

            Comme les grenouilles?

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standardised connector

      Micro USB is simply crap compared to Lightning - perhaps they should look to see if Apple will license the far superior connector for a reasonable price. For a start being able to plug it in either way is great and micro USB looks fragile and totally 2nd rate in comparison.

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standardised connector

      If it was not Apple we would all agree Lightning is the better solution - unfortunately some people cannot accept Apple on any terms and would rather stick with an inferior design.

    13. PeterM42

      Re: Standardised connector

      I presume the "standard" will be microUSB. At least that WORKS - unlike SCART which is a heap of C.R.A.P.

    14. Jim 59

      appeal and elegance

      ...it's an electrical connector FPS.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple's not the bad guy here

    You guys must remember back in 2007 (when the iPhone was released) that it was par for course for cell phones to have proprietary connectors. If you tried to buy an aftermarket charger for your phone at Best Buy you were faced with literally a wall of dozens of different adapters. Each manufacturer used several different kinds of connectors. It was rare for phones to have mini-USB connectors, and even when they did, some would refuse to charge unless they were plugged into their own proprietary wall wart (I'm looking at you, Motorola).

    Apple was a standout in this situation for using the same connector for ALL its devices for something like 8-9 solid years.

    It's nice that everybody has more or less standardized on micro-USB now but don't complain about Apple... for all we know, they might have started the ball rolling on standardized connectors when people realized they didn't necessarily have to get all new accessories every time they got a different model of phone.

    1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      The only company that did chargers properly before micro USB was Nokia. In the end, even they messed it up by making the 'mini-Nokia' connector standard.

      (The cynic in me reckons the only reason they did that was to try and shift some new chargers.

      I mean, the average UK household has 2.675 old Nokia chargers*)

      *possibly

      1. julianh72

        Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

        Probably more than "2.675 old Nokia chargers* in the average household (or did you mean "2,675 old Nokia chargers"?

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      Up until they changed from 12V charge to 5 Volt only (even their own speaker doc was affected, along with lots of car docs. It might have been the same plug but they made a few changes during it's life.

      Now they changed it to a new plug and don't even have the excuse of needing lots of extra pins any more but still went for an Apple Tax non-standard cable.

      1. danbi

        Re: an Apple Tax non-standard cable

        That costs a whooping 1 UKP on Amazon.co.uk?

        Apple must be selling billions of those to collect enough cash to survive...

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: an Apple Tax non-standard cable

          If you look at Amazon.co.uk most of the non-apple brand names seem to charge £12-15 for a cable. There are cheaper no-name knock-off cables but I expect they are not paying the Apple Tax (and some reviews say they don't work with iOS7 due to lack of the Apple chip). I don't see anything as cheap as £1.

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Belkin-Lightning-Charge-iPhone-iPad4th/dp/B00BCIR21E/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1380545001&sr=1-5&keywords=apple+lightning+cable

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      We've got a bunch of tablets and smartphones that need charging at various times around the office I work in. We've got a drawer full of micro-USB and mini-USB cables and chargers. Every single one of the devices charges with these cables just fine - except when some goofball forgets to bring a proprietary charger from home for their latest favorite iToy.

      So, in the real world, I would have to say it definitely IS Apple that's the bad guy here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

        funny, this is the comment section of a technical website, yet some people posting can't seem able to distinguish between 'charger' and 'cable'. Apple haven't had a proprietary chargers for donkeys years.

    4. Sampler

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      Back in 2007 I was on my second HTC which was still using mini-usb, they changed to micro when I got my fourth as it was around the time the EU decided that was the way to go and stuck since - so if you're claiming anyone had commonsense when it came to chargers you'll have to look at the fallen.

      (yes, I know they had their own version of mini-usb but that was just for their dongles and a standard adaptor would work perfectly fine)

      Oddly though, the lightening connector on my works iPhone5 is about the only thing I like about it, good size and doesn't mind which way around you stick it in (not that that's a massive issue, just nice not to try and connect, turn it around, try it again, turn it around, straight in...every...time..)

    5. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      Are you sure? Back then my smartphones (Palm Treos and HTCs) already used a micro USB cable both for charging and connecting to a PC. No need to use proprietary connectors.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple's not the bad guy here

      Eh, let them have their five minute hate. If Apple had a plug that, as a side function, cured cancer, they'd hate on it for being proprietary.

  3. Zack Mollusc

    With the billions of dollars at their disposal, I am sure that Apple will move heaven and earth to find a way of making it crappy and annoying.

    1. Vociferous

      Probably. They make a lot of money off their proprietary chargers.

    2. veti Silver badge

      If I were Apple - I'd put the charging port on the phone, as required by law, but (unless this too is explicitly required) I wouldn't provide a cable for it, only for my own Lightning connector. Then if anyone has problems with the port, blame the 3rd-party connector.

      Alternatively, if the law *does* require you to provide a connector, make it unusable. Make the plug part so wide that it takes 3 socket spaces to plug it in. Put an annoyingly bright light on it, so that it keeps you awake all night if used in the bedroom. Basically, there are plenty of options to make sure no-one ever uses it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I hope you've patented those ideas.

        1. ShadowedOne

          I'm reasonable sure that you can't patent 'stupid' (especially when it's more temper tantrum than patentable idea).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Who says you can't patent 'stupid'?

            "I'm reasonable sure that you can't patent 'stupid' (especially when it's more temper tantrum than patentable idea)."

            You're presumably not familiar with the US PTO, which happily lets people patent both the stupid and the obvious. Why wouldn't they? There used to be so many patents out there for stupid things that were obviously perpetual motion machines that there had to be a special exception made for them.

            Other than that, if the patent looks clerically correct (right boxes ticked, right fees paid to the right people) the patent is probably granted.

            The US PTO guidance has the following to say (convenienty locatable via the Wikipedia article on perpetual motion, and yes these are highly selective quotes, if you're interested you can read the originals):

            With the exception of cases involving perpetual motion, a model is not ordinarily required by the Office to demonstrate the operability of a device. If operability of a device is questioned, the applicant must establish it to the satisfaction of the examiner, but he or she may choose his or her own way of so doing.[21]

            And, further, that:

            A rejection [of a patent application] on the ground of lack of utility includes the more specific grounds of inoperativeness, involving perpetual motion. A rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility should not be based on grounds that the invention is frivolous, fraudulent or against public policy.[22]

  4. TXITMAN

    Electronic waste

    I don't like government control nor regulation but a standard is needed. The volume of waste due to all sorts of chargers that go in the bin is high.

    I have a drawer full of obsolete chargers. My IT department a double box full per month to recycle. Too much waste for sure.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Electronic waste

      Same here. The waste of obsolete chargers is staggering.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Electronic waste

        But how is Apple contributing to this waste of obsolete chargers? Their chargers are a simple thing you plug in that takes a standard USB cable. Then they have a USB to Lightning cable. If you switch from iPhone to Android, you could continue using the charger, you'd just need a USB to micro USB cable instead of the USB to Lightning cable.

        It is a far cry from the old days where every phone had a charger + cable combo that was unique for every model.

        1. Ivan Headache

          Re: Electronic waste

          Instead of mandating the connector on the phone why not just mandate the wart. Apple's wart has a standard USB socket on it and many have interchangeable power pins for different countries.

          All that's needed is a cable - and most people already have those if they sync to their computers or connect to car socket chargers.

          Anyone who comes to our house, regardless of the make of their phone,(Kindle, Kobo, tablet) can recharge using any of our iPhone chargers.

  5. Lars Silver badge
    Flame

    Surprising

    Imagine that I can "tank" my car in so many different countries without problems. Nice, cars where invented long before modern times. The absolutely maddest connector was the one used by Ericsson, the best, used by Nokia. But that is beyond the point, how come it takes some twenty years to reach any. even the smallest amount of, sorry I cannot remember the word any more. Any damned cook wants to have his own charger as supposedly there is perhaps a cent to get. I am prepared to send you, each of you, a dollar if you can agree for the next one hundred years on one damned connector. And kudos to the EU if they can tackle even that one cent.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Surprising

      The absolutely maddest connector was the one used by Ericsson, the best, used by Nokia

      Have to disagree, all the Ericsson's I had used a connector that did not use a pin.

      As a result the pin could never be bent or damaged if it was moved against the phone; it would simply pop out.

      This is the big drawback with the USB connections: if the phone falls awkwardly when connected then there is a chance that the cable and possibly even the socket will damaged. So, an idiot-proof USB pop or magnetic connector would be the best solution.

      But having a standard connection, in whatever form, is great. Samsung now just supplies a micro-USB cable with a USB mains adapter. I can use the same cable for all my phones and my Kobo. I still have a dedicated charger in one room because it can deliver 2A instead of 1A but basically just being able to carry one cable for >= 3 devices instead of a separate charge for each is a godsend.

  6. Volker Hett

    And then ...

    we will have Micro USB as only solution for the coming decades with lots of adaptors to connect our Galaxy 15 to the USB 5.1 plug in out new Lenovo ThinkPad whatever ...

  7. Big-nosed Pengie

    Halle-bloody-lujah!

    Roll on the day!

  8. Eric Hood

    I like the lightning connector on the newer Apple products. It is reversible, so in the dark there can be no mistakes plugging it in.

    The connector is small and there is excellent physical connection when inserted. A much better experience than mini or micro USB.

    Apple do make a Lightning to micro USB adapter. At worst they could include one with the device.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Have you ever seen that good USB cables have a something on the plug telling you which side you're tourching, even in the dark of if you're blind (yes, there are blind people using USB cables as well...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've settled on genuine samsung micro USB cables for this reason. The cable on the micro plug is offset to one side, so in the dark I can tell which way round it is and know which way to plug it in. With 3 chargers by the bed it's good to be able to plug in the stuff without fiddling around and breaking the USB plugs.

        Now I just have to remember that on my nexus 7, the plug goes the other way round compared to my nexus 4 and Note 2

        Micro USB seems the most likely candidate, but given the choice, lightning would be best even though I don't own any apple devices. Reversible connectors is such a great idea. But what if there was a square connector that you could insert any of the 4 ways and still have it work. You could even increase the number of faces and have more ways the connector could go in.

        Or go to the extreme and make it a circular connector!! oh wait...

  9. ecofeco Silver badge
    Coat

    One charger...

    ...to rule them all!

    That's mine with bulging pockets of different chargers.

  10. Decade
    Stop

    Can't standardize, yet. Innovation still needed.

    You know what I miss about the old barrel plugs? The ability to insert the plug in any orientation. (Almost) Everybody has standardized on MicroUSB, but it's difficult to tell which way you're supposed to plug it in.

    I'm not exactly happy about the clutter generated by new Lightning cables, but I think Apple is proving that there are still desirable improvements that we can implement in our mobile device cables.

    1. Magani
      Happy

      Re: Can't standardize, yet. Innovation still needed.

      @Decade : "...but it's difficult to tell which way you're supposed to plug it in."

      I tend to put a drop of Liquid Paper or white marker on the top of the Micro/Mini USB connector. Makes it lots easier on both the failing eyesight and the frustration factor.

  11. hitmouse

    Cupertino is already preparing a more aesthetically appropriate reality distortion field-effect inductive charging standard that will only work on their devices.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Joke

      Added function to the Apple chargers

      will be to cause any Samsung device connected to cease to function apart as a doorstop.

      I am joking ok

  12. Arthur Kater :-D ☺

    MicroUSB poor standard

    Despite the good intentions to have a single charger suitable for all phones/tablets, the choice for MicroUSB as the standard connector is less favorable.

    MicroUSB is often difficult to connect (upside down, must align well). For docking stations it's even worse. This all resulting in frustrations and easily broken connectors.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: MicroUSB poor standard

      Well, MicroUSB was designed for two things: thinner phones (it's a thinner plug) and wear issues (most of the wear-and-tear falls to the plug, which is easier to replace than the socket).

  13. Gary F

    Another benefit of standardisation

    100 miles from home with a colleague:

    Colleague: "Can I borrow your phone charger cable and laptop as my iphone is nearly dead?"

    Me: "Sure, help yourself."

    Colleague: "Erm, your cable doesn't fit my phone"

    Me: "Sure it does, it's a standard cable"

    Colleague: "Oh, well not for the iphone it isn't"

    Me: "Ha-ha!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another benefit of standardisation

      Yeah and if it had been you that forgot your cable the same would happen. I have an iPhone and some devices that take micro USB and I carry a micro USB to Lightning adapter - simple solution.

      Often more than one device needs charging at once so not sure this would greatly reduce the number of cables I needed to carry as if I had two micro USB devices I'd probably carry two charging cables - so carrying one micro USB cable and one Lightning cable is no bother. As for which is better - Lightning is certainly the better connector but micro USB is more widely used (perhaps down to cost) - but not because it's better.

  14. DougS Silver badge

    What happens when you want to do something that cannot be done via USB?

    Like say an HDBaseT 2.0 connection (which could possibly why Apple chose the form factor it did) You cannot support such a connection with USB. You could connect your phone to a monitor or TV that supports this (when they become available) and have a USB mouse and keyboard plug into the monitor, and if the phone ran a desktop OS X GUI you'd have a full fledged computer - not quite as fast as modern computers, but faster than a high end desktop computer was a decade ago. It would make for a perfectly good PC for the average person, who doesn't need the fastest Core 2 Extreme to browse the web, send emails, write papers for school, etc.

    Perhaps the reference to A7 being "desktop class" was a teaser for what Apple is planning for the future...

    But if bureaucrats decide that every phone has to have the exact same connector, goodbye to innovation. And for those who say "who cares, Apple can't innovate", well, it also stops any chance of Google or Samsung doing any sort of innovation for which USB is not suitable. Still think it is OK for the EU to dictate?

    1. Daniel Voyce

      Re: What happens when you want to do something that cannot be done via USB?

      I agree with you to a point - however just because they have to include a standard charger doesn't mean they cant include another port for any other innovation they want (or a combined port that does both (e.g. the eSATA/USB ports on many laptops now) - that's where their innovation can come in!

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: What happens when you want to do something that cannot be done via USB?

        But Apple already has a standard charger, which has a USB socket. The only thing you can't use with an Android device is the USB to Lightning cable, you'd need a USB to micro-USB cable instead. Why should they need to include a micro USB port just to support charging?

        Also, what happens for phones that are wirelessly charged? Will the EU still require them to have a micro USB port even if someone wanted to design a phone without any ports at all that did everything wirelessly?

  15. Jolyon Smith

    Except that these are not JUST chargers

    Where was the EU when phones did only have to plug in to chargers and there was far greater/worse diversity in play ?

    The micro-USB connector on my Galaxy S2 is the one thing that causes me to cast envious eyes at my fiances iPhone charger.

    Even the old 30 pin connector... sure it was bigger, but somehow it slots home more naturally and easily than the micro-USB which even after 2+ years I still can't slot home without having to check the orientation of the male connector in my hand and carefully lining up.

    The new orientation-agnostic lightning connector is pure genius.

  16. Joe Gurman

    Sorry to sound like a Yank

    But I prefer the marketplace to figure out the best charger connector, not overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Sorry to sound like a Yank

      You are aware that left to themselves they will never standardise?

      Every single phone manufacturer will deliberately use a different charger connector purely and simply so they can price-gouge you for replacement chargers/cables, and have some brand lock-in for your next phone.

      They'll also patent their connector and do other dirty tricks to ensure cheap clones of their cable are much more difficult to make and can't be imported.

      You have the EU to thanks for the fact that most modern phones are chargeable via the same micro-USB cable, with Apple being the only one that isn't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry to sound like a Yank

        Micro USB may be popular for now but it was not long before when it was Mini USB (and I also have some weird connector Jabra and a few others used) - then scroll back when people probably though the Nokia connector was a standard and people offered adapters from it to the multitude of other sorry connectors. Micro USB is ok but it's nothing (apart from popular) compared to Lightning. The EU would have been better off asking Apple to license it (cheaply) if they actually wanted what was best.

      2. spudmasterflex

        Re: Sorry to sound like a Yank

        "You have the EU to thanks for the fact that most modern phones are chargeable via the same micro-USB cable, with Apple being the only one that isn't."

        So in one sentence you are saying that most phones can charge by micro USB, most indicates not all, correct?

        And the end of the sentence you put apple being the only one, so which is mr contradictory ?

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Sorry to sound like a Yank

          You're sounding very foolish now.

          Are you trolling or is English or Americanese not your native language?

          The word "Most" was used because Apple, and Apple alone, do not comply.

          Thus I could not say "All" without also claiming that iPhone 5/5S/5C are not modern phones.

          We can discuss the merits of that argument another time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry to sound like a Yank

      > But I prefer the marketplace to figure out the best charger connector, not overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels.

      Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember that the EU asked the industry to standardise on one type of charger and the industry settled on micro-USB. The marketplace has previously caused all the waste that people here have so eloquently described.

  17. bpfh Silver badge
    Stop

    nokia c series, nokia asha...

    Both had 2 ports: one for a barrel jack charger (smaller, thinner version of a laptop charger plug), and a mini usb.... And would charge from both!

    Keep whatever proprietary connectors you need for your latest and greatest hdmi-over-dvi-through-fiber-somthingnet, and add a standard charge port, be it a barrel jack or microUSB.

    Even better: I'd love more mini USB (harder to insert wrong way up).... But micro is the defacto standard now.... But you want to make money out of weird accessories? Put pogo pins on the phone, like on some off the nexus range. Micro USB is data transfer + otg + charge, pogo pins are dedicated audio/video connectors. And they will only fit a $30 custom dock for the few percent of people that use this functionality...

  18. At0micAndy

    oh no, not more needless bureaucracy

    i used to only buy Nokia, all the chargers fitted all the phones, then they changed the pin size, so they included adapters with all the phones - that was great. Now I only buy Apple, and all the phones and tablets use one of two chargers, but the adapter is a costed extra (still OK, but not so good). I have no interest in my chargers' fitting someone else's phone, or someone else's charger fitting mine. It is my responsibility to make sure my phone is charged and that I have the capability to recharge it if needed ( The USB charging lead is not exactly huge in my pocket). If I cock that up and my phone goes flat, that is my fault. I really do not need unelected European mandarins determining that the charger lead for my phone is the same as every one else's. Next thing you know they will demand that the outlet socket for your house electricity is the same all over Europe, so that you can plug your standard charger in wherever you are in Europe. The sooner UK gets out of the meddling EU the better.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    September 2015

    Can't wait for the iPhone 7 when Apple 'invent' Micro USB

  20. Mike Bell

    I'm all for standardisation, but the 'de facto' standard that we have now should in no way, shape.or form (quite literally) be the legal standard. Apple's Lightning connector is vastly superior in terms of ergonomics. As others have mentioned, it is easily and securely inserted every time, even in the dark without guessing or having a blob of Tip-Ex and a torch to hand. If a universal standard is to be mandated, it should at least be a good one.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Standardization requires an open specification (and largely accept and in use) and not a proprietary one - otherwise the owner of the specification can change it at its own advantage. That's why the choice was Micro USB and not Lightning or Thunderbolt or whatever else.

    2. Steven Raith

      I have a Samsung Micro-USB charger....

      From an old Tocco/Galaxy Portal/S5800/whatever that phone was called.

      The USB end is notched on one side.

      I always plug it in with the notch to the left when I have the device face up - which is easy to tell on most phones. It charges more slowly than the Nexus 4 charger, but I've never had it go in the wrong way.

      All manufacturers have to do is notch or 'sign' the orientation of the device in some way, and if you have even the slightest ounce of spacial awareness, you get it the right way up.

      I'll give Apple some credit though - at least their chargers all work off the USB standard for charging, even the cables themselves are proprietary. I'd rather that the AC/DC adapters were legally mandated to be USB-out before they decide what the cable types themselves were (And also looked into 2A charging for tablets etc, which I assume this covers?)

      Steven R

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have no issue with standardisation but this means lowest common denominator - micro USB is a backward step compared to Lightning. They probably started this 5 years ago when Micro USB was new / looked a decent option but if they started again today...?

      It will never last - look at Micro USB 3.0 - it's a MONSTER - a MONSTER I tell you........

      1. Tromos

        Maybe a MONSTER...

        ...but a compatible MONSTER. You can take your 5 year old charger and lead and use it to charge a device with a Micro USB 3 socket. Backward compatibility just isn't in Apple's lexicon, they prefer to obsolete kit the day after it gets sold.

        1. D@v3

          Re: Maybe a MONSTER...

          "they prefer to obsolete kit the day after it gets sold"

          Which would be why i was charging my 4s with the same charger and cable that i used with my 3G, from I can't remember how many years ago.

    4. TheWeenie

      Why the obsession with plugging your phone charger in when it's pitch black?

      If you're close enough to a power socket that you can run a charger, you're close enough that you can turn a bloody light on!

      1. Steven Raith

        @theweenie

        Pff, that would involve getting out of bed, when I've forgotten that my phone is still not plugged in.

        Buggered if I'm getting up and traipsing across the room to the light switch - I'll just (totally blind) orient and plug in my notched USB cable with my eyes closed.

        Then go to sleep.

        1. FromTheRoot

          Re: @theweenie

          Try a bedside lamp! Almost as cheap as a charger, and for eradicating that inconvenience, it's worth it!

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: @theweenie

            I stopped using a bedside lamp when I was quite a bit younger, as I would end up awake till 3am reading, every single fecking night.

            No longer. Need me sleep now that I'm an old man. :-(

            Steven R

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Because some people are either blind or don't see so well????

        Not everyone has your amazing ability to see in the dark, some are blind, some have lousy eyesight, all of them deserve to be able to plug in a phone or tablet or PC to be charged.

  21. dave 76
    Thumb Up

    don't see a big problem with the current standard

    now that all the phone take 5V, I don't have a problem with the current situation.

    I have a number of chargers, all which have a USB outlet. And I have 2-3 cables for my various devices which are USB on one end and micro-usb/lightning/old-apple on the other. When travelling I just take one charger and a couple of cables and all my devices can charge. Out of the various manufacturers, the wall chargers from Apple are some of the best ones in terms of size and lack of heat produced.

    Any wall-wart that doesn't have a USB connection gets tossed.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orientation

    Standardisation on the connector is long overdue. I'm just hoping that if they standardise on Micro USB that they also define which frigging way up the socket should be. I have a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 7 and the damn things have the connector different ways up. Trying to plug a charger in, in the dark, is a nightmare and I just know that one day soon I'm going to bust the connector.

    Dare I say it, but I reckon it would also help the Android docking station market as you could at least fix the connector in place while designing adjustable parts to grip the particular size of phone or tablet.

  23. Julian Bond

    Not just the connector shape

    Add another vote for mini-USB. More robust, easier to use.

    Can we also please have a common documented standard for high current charging (above 500mA).

    And devices that will charge from a powered USB port on a switched off laptop or a USB hub connected to a powered off laptop.

    And standardise on 5v seeing as I've got recent Nokia featurephones where the charger produces 6v and the phone expects 6v. It still charges from 5v, but it doesn't show when it's fully charged.

    It's amazing how many combinations of USB charger or port, cable and older iDevice don't work. FFS, It's a USB port with 5v active. What do you mean "charging is unsupported from this device".

    So yes, let's please have the standards committees solve the problems, manufacturers support the standards and if absolutely necessary make adherence to the standards a condition of sale in the EU.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just the connector shape

      "Can we also please have a common documented standard for high current charging (above 500mA)."

      You mean like the wireless charging standard that the Nokia Lumias use?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only person here who remembers that the Lightning port also outputs digital audio, HDMI, VGA, can connect to SD cards, etc (presumably other functions as well)? It's not just a charging / sync port - they crammed all functions into one very small, very durable (no pins to bend, no easily-damaged tin around the edge), reversible plug. This is way more functional than MicroUSB. If you don't like it then that's perfectly fine - don't buy it. There are plenty of other good phones and video players out there. But don't deny superior (if more costly - funny how those go together) technology to those of us who like it and don't mind dropping a little extra coin for it.

    Hate on Apple all you want, but be honest - if you started from scratch, listed all of the functions you wanted, minimized size, maximized convenience and longevity - you'd wind up with something pretty similar to what they did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "the Lightning port also outputs digital audio, HDMI, VGA, can connect to SD cards"

      Care to mention which one of those can't be done via USB?

  25. Frankee Llonnygog

    Phones are on the verge of desktop replacement

    If not already, they'll soon be powerful enough for all the desktop tasks the average office user performs. Drop the phone into a desktop cradle connected to a monitor, keyboard, mouse. - your working environment at any desk.

    Does the EU think that will work over micro USB?

    They might as well rule that phones have to connect to Imperial gas pipe fittings

    1. ShadowedOne

      Re: Phones are on the verge of desktop replacement

      So what you're saying is that you've never seen a usb mouse, usb keyboard, nor any of the heaps of usb video adapters. There may well be a failure there but it's not on the part of the micro-usb connection.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Phones are on the verge of desktop replacement

      "Does the EU think that will work over micro USB?"

      Why not? My Sony Xperia SP has a single micro USB port that provides MHL output to drive a display over HDMI, the capability to charge, and also to drive a USB Keyboard and/or mouse. All at the same time.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USELESS EUROPEAN BUREOCRATS

    Another example of extremely stupid, useless and COSTLY Euro bureaucracy intruding in everyone's lives.

    There simply is NO reason whatsoever to regulate something like this, it should be se by technology innovation (allow for the best) , price point (allow for the cheapest) and plain simple WTF do not meddle with people's choices.

    If there was ANOTHER example and reason to SCRAP the super expensive and damaging Euro/Eurocrap this is a perfect example.

  27. David Black

    Cool, everyone in Europe will have a standardised cable pluged into all their devices until they walk to the wall socket in the various Eurpean nations and, er, fail :(

    So we'll still have different changers and socket adapters for those on the Britich Isles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That must be why nobody has ever taken any electrical equipment with them on holiday of foreign business trips.

      I know.. I'll invent what I call a "travel adapter" that will let me plug my equipment in when abroad. I'll make millions.

  28. Rupert Stubbs

    Have you seen the new micro USB 3.0 cable?

    http://www.androidbeat.com/2013/09/say-hello-hideous-new-usb-3-0-cable-new-smartphone-tablet-will-come/

    This is what happens when you try to mash everything in to one outdated "standard".

    See also (of course) XKCD: http://xkcd.com/927/

    1. Mike Bell

      Re: Have you seen the new micro USB 3.0 cable?

      Hideous monstrosity.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Have you seen the new micro USB 3.0 cable?

        It's not so bad when you realize (like with its big brother), you can use a USB 2.0 cable on it no problem. You just don't get the top speed out of it, which may be fine for some people. The USB 3.0 spec is designed to be backward-compatible with the older cables specifically so older cables can still be used on them.

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Have you seen the new micro USB 3.0 cable?

      Hideous is in the eye of the beholder, but "new" it is not.

      Based on actual testing, the Micro USB (and Micro USB "B") are far more resilient than Mini USB, both in life expectancy and in failure modes.

      However, the level of obtuseness here is astounding: the issue is not about the connector, but about how the charger and device communicate. A USB device can "demand" 500mA without much in the way of negotiation, and so a 500mA charger would do fine. But 500mA is a low charge rate for tablets and most smartphones, so clever engineers pondered the problem of how a smart device (tablet, phone, headset, etc) could interrogate the charging brick to see what current it was designed for, and if the brick signalled that it could handle more than 500mA (e.g. 2000mA), then the smart device should feel free to suck 2A, but otherwise it should trickle at 500mA lest it melt the fuse in the brick, etc. etc.

      Now, Apple (as usual) have their own "magic" way of figuring out the power delivery capability of a USB brick: the voltages on the (USB) data lines (D+ and D-) are driven to particular voltages, and thereby signal whether the brick can provide 500mA, 1000mA, or 2000mA. Of course, this sort of trick doesn't actually define quite useful things like maximum inrush current, but it's a good start...

      Whoopee!

      HOWEVER... whether it's with a USB connector or a Lightning connector on the device, the charging VOLTAGE is more-or-less standardized at 5V, which is mildly problematic since the USB "A" type connector on the brick is pretty much only good for 5A, and the operating inefficiencies of having to use a boost converter in cases where the battery is more naturally a 12V or 20V thing are obvious.

      So wouldn't it be just lovely if there was a standard by which a device could indicate "hey, I'll take 500mA @5V if that's all you can do, but I'd prefer 3A @ 20V if you've got it"?

      And THAT's what this is about: it's not an issue of one charger that can charge both an iPhone and a Galaxy S4, but rather one charger than can charge your Bluetooth headset and your "NotePod 12s" 17-inch gaming tablet.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Have you seen the new micro USB 3.0 cable?

        P.s. I forgot to mention that the USB Power Delivery standard does exactly what I described: up to 60W using 20V over a MICRO USB connector, and up to 100W (again, at 20V) using larger connectors -- again, limited by that 5A thing.

  29. danbi

    Confusing regulation

    First, about the "news": Apple mobile devices already charge over USB only. Apple actually provides an (whatever) to USB cable with each and every device. In Europe, Apple bundles their (whatever) to micorUSB adapter with the iPhone (might be, not in every country, or via every unofficial sales channel - but that's the channel's fault in not complying with EU regulations). Their "wall charger" outputs only USB and can be used with any other device that is charging off USB. Therefore, Apple has fulfilled whatever requirement the EU has invented for phone chargers.

    Now, the funniest thing of all is that each and every new phone comes with: an USB cable for charging and an USB wall charger. Therefore, nothing was done for the electronic waste. We still do have plenty of USB chargers and USB cables lying around!

    The ever funniest thing is that for these devices to pass (whatever) mandatory electromagnetic compatibility certification, they must provide a sample of the charger they will be used with and (in theory) must be charged with only that charger during use.

    Has the EU bureaucrats considered forcing the compatible certification change on their (many) regulators?

    Some other day...

    1. I like noodles

      Re: Confusing regulation

      Apple has fulfilled whatever requirement the EU has invented for phone chargers.

      You can't possibly say that without knowing exactly what requirement they will come up with. The requirement could be as straightforward as "phone must have micro-usb socket"

      Now, the funniest thing of all is that each and every new phone comes with: an USB cable for charging and an USB wall charger

      http://news.o2.co.uk/2012/09/26/no-charger-please-just-a-new-phone/

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Confusing regulation

        "The requirement could be as straightforward as "phone must have micro-usb socket"."

        Define "phone". Now define "phone" to the satisfaction of a company that is willing to spend whatever it takes convincing a court that the line between phones and tablets (or phones and any other kind of SIM-enabled device, for that matter) is a blurry one. Having won your case by defining phone in the broadest possible terms, go home and try charging your space-heater of a SIM-enabled desktop-replacement laptop over a 2.5W cable.

        It's a nice idea, but I see plenty of wiggle room for the lawyers and I foresee another ten years of haggling before we finally have a standard (which will then be laughably out of date).

  30. MJI Silver badge

    How many people scrapped their Nokias battery?

    Had this with pre USB Nokias, they would not charge, even ended up having to have a new battery. it was terrible, often it would not charge and I would need to swap batteries with a collegue.

    It took a year to find the issue.

    I never leave chargers on, I always plug in appliance then turn on at the wall, as I have done since I first used a charger.

    Nolia phones did not like that. Went against everything I have ever done with chargers, if the charger was not on when inserted they were ignored.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appl;e USB is not USB

    Just a reminder folks, that Apple "USB" chargers are not USB. Nice, maybe. Standard, not. USB was limited to 500mA by design, Apple decided they wanted something similar but different.

    You have to have specification, or you don't know what will be available. And you need to have enough. And you don't want to much, for cost, weight, and safety reasons. When you strike out on your own, the term is "Apple" not "USB"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appl;e USB is not USB

      They may support higher speed charging for Apple devices but they still charge normal USB devices just fine - so what's the issue? Apple probably save huge numbers of chargers from landfill by having a USB plug and a USB cable that you can charge via your PC or USB / Apple charger. They used the 'dock' connector for about 10 years (while others went for various proprietary connectors, then to mini USB and now micro USB is their best effort). Instead Apple leap over them all with lightning connectors / cables.

      Over the last 10 years I have a multitude of Nokia chargers and cables - the larger barrel connector, then the smaller one, then they added micro USB (but still used the mini Nokia connector for charging), then to mini USB then to micro USB. In that same time Apple had the dock connector which did 'more' and now they replace it with Lightning which is better than micro USB. License lightning from Apple - don't settle for micro USB.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple do something better and people flame them for it - macbooks have a magsafe connector which is a great innovation (or is someone going to say they prefer almost every other laptop having a different connector). Yes I know Apple have transitioned to a smaller magsafe connector now (for which you can get a simple adapter) but the fact is it's a 'better' solution - clicks on an off and stops your laptop getting pulled off the table when someone snags your charge cable.

    Apple do this stuff right - the others go on about standards - basically because they are too lazy to come up with something better they just settle for 'something'. Anyone who tries to say micro USB is a technically better connector than lightning is being delusional - it may be more common, it may be cheaper, it is probably also more fragile, can't be put in either way, does not lend itself to docking - but it's not 'technically' better.

  33. James 100

    Which current level?

    If they're all to be the same, is that the half-amp (2.5W) of regular USB? The 1A (5W) of the higher-power option, or c 2A/10W for some tablets?

    I like the idea of a standard connector, and micro-USB is adequate for that (though like other posters here, I much prefer mini) - but demanding the charger itself be the same seems too restrictive. Why not just take the sensible route of stipulating the charger must have a regular USB port? That way, everything's fine: just need a USB to micro-USB cable, which everyone will have anyway for syncing etc, and it actually makes the charger more useful too (can use it for non-phone purposes too: tablets, charging those external 'emergency' batteries, etc).

    Now, if they were to push for a standard, say 48V at 1/2/5 amps with a standard plug, for laptops, I'd be very happy. (Lower voltage means more current, and high-end laptops can be drawing insanely high current which is why the plugs are getting thick and prone to failure. Manufacturers probably love this, given the prices they charge for current power supplies...)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the EU would have been better to just say 'provide an adapter to micro USB as an option' (which Apple have done) and tried to do something more useful standardising wireless charging. Or perhaps they should just keep their gravy train noses out of this trough and do something more useful?? ;)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Micro USB 3.0 is hideous - you want that on your phone? It's fragile and huge - nice 'standard' there.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Whether you like it or not is one thing, but "fragile" is a bogus description based on FUD. The "notch" in the middle actually improves the strength of the thing compared to e.g. HDMI, SATA, DisplayPort, etc., as well as providing 100% backward compatibility.

  36. Fink-Nottle

    Stable Door standardisation ...

    The committee's time would be better spent promoting the adoption of wireless charging by manufacturers.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If we started again today with a blank sheet of paper and two teams came up with Lightning and Micro USB 2.0 (and Micro USB 3.0) do you honestly think Micro USB would be chosen. The answer is no BTW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If we started today with a blank sheet of paper and two teams came up with Lightning and Micro USB, and lightning was developed by a team working for the most litigious patent-wielding trolls the mobile phone industry has ever seen, charging £30+ for a cable compared with £1 for USB, do you honestly think Lightning would be chosen?

      FTFY

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Actually, I think your assertion is flatly and fatally incorrect.

      It _is_ a reasonable assertion for a smartphone or a tablet. But for a headset? A feature phone? Not even close: Lightning requires support circuitry to handle the symmetry, which is reasonable, even elegant, for the use case that Lightning was designed for (i.e. carrying high-speed a/v signals and incidentally power), but for a huge number of DEVICES it's ridiculous overkill.

      So, there is an existing population of millions of devices, some of which need no or only speed (e.g. 12Mbps) communications, while others need medium (100's of Mbps) or high (Gbps) data rates.Is there any rational use case to insist that the complexity of Lightning must be forced on the low end?

      Of course not. USB would win in your scenario. Not because it's "better", but because it is a simpler, cheaper solution for the low end, and more low end devices get bought (and the associate charger eventually dumped) than do high end devices.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just insist everyone let you charge off USB - they provide the cable only - that would cut down on a huge amount of waste right away. I still buy devices today with Mini USB so it's certainly not dead, micro USB is no better (just smaller and harder to plug in) - so almost a step back. Micro USB 3.0 looks terrible (and huge) - the Apple connector looks a much better option.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't work

    So all they'll do, is create a standarised charger, and have a separate proprietary data cable. The rest of use can use a standard micro-USB cable. If they want to charge £20 of a bit of wire, that's their business.

  40. Tromos

    Not just phones

    I sincerely hope that the coming legislation is phrased so that it applies to all portable/wearable rechargeable devices up to a certain power rating. Allowing mp3 players/watches/glasses/etc. to go their own way while phones are standardised doesn't make sense.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best connector

    Now I was pissed when Apple changed the connector.

    Totally converted to lighting. Why not have a connector goes in both ways.

    I also have an apple travel charger in my bag all the time. Charges every device I have. Motorola, BB, HTC and by iPhone.

    But wait let's have clunky big plugs and fragile USB connectors that are frankly outdated.

    I'd ask Apple, how about you guys share lightening with the other smartphone / device manufacturer. It's a shame we have never seen MagSafe connectors on any other device.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Best connector

      Now I was pissed when Apple changed the connector.

      What did you think of it when you sobered up?

    2. Hellcat

      Re: Best connector

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6385/microsoft-surface-review/9

      And now you have.

    3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Best connector

      Why no MagSafe on any other device (except some TomToms)? Perhaps you missed the information that Apple is a litigious troll?

      The simple answer is that Apple blustered and threatened, and no vendor wanted to fight them for a benefit that, while real, is small (or perceived as quite small). I know people do suffer from accidents that would have been prevented by MagSafe, but despite Apple's marketing efforts, it doesn't seem to be enough of a problem that people worry about it (my HP laptop's connector generally just pops out with no magnets involved)!

  42. JDX Gold badge

    Docking

    Isn't one of the strengths of Apple's connectors that they are big enough to have some strength, and allow you to drop the device into a docking station?

    Does that work with micro-USB? Or could/would Apple put a micro-USB as well as their fancy docking thingie?

    I wonder if Apple could/would push their socket to BE the standard.

  43. Whitter
    Boffin

    Micro USB 3

    That's three folks saying they hate it: no reasons as yet.

    Care to share?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Micro USB

    OK so we go for Micro USB for charging. Does that mean the phone needs a second connector for A/V out or can Micro USB support that?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Micro USB

      Perhaps not analogue A/V, but HDMI support came with the MHL (Mobile Hidef Link) standard. MHL 2.0 (seen in the Galaxy S4 and later devices) can do full 1080p. And HDMI supplies both video and audio.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Micro-USB is awful. Mini USB was a bit better.

    I would rather not have to orient the cable the right way at all.

  46. marc 9

    Here we go again

    Just as how those useless 'cookie banners' have ruined the web (and haven't helped anyone's privacy) , the EU now want to saddle all our phones with an awful USB connector that always seems to take 3 attempts to connect. Apple already offer a micro-USB adapter that I doubt anybody bothers to use. How is this even a problem? All phones come with a charger. Saying accessories won't work etc is fair enough, but then neither will my apps if I switch from Android to iOS.

    No wonder the EU hasn't produced an Apple, a Microsoft or a Google.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go again

      "How is this even a problem? All phones come with a charger"

      You obviously cannot see the irony in that, can you? The whole point of something like this is that, by forcing every phone to use the exactly same charger, the phone does not need a charger in the box.

      Sell them separately. A fiver for someone who has never owned a phone before. £30 if you must have a white one with a half eaten fruit on it.

      The rest of us don't end up with an ever-expanding collection of chargers. The manufacturers can reduce shipping, packaging costs. Warehouse costs shrink, so on and so on.

      The reduction in packaging reduces the environmental impact (OK the phone itself is far worse than the cardboard it comes in).

      The reduced costs will never get passed on to consumers, but, for some manufacturers, increased profits, or just some profits at all, would be most welcome, and help keep them in business. That produces something called competition, and that is always of benefit to consumers. Two giants sweeping up all the profits is good for nobody.

      1. marc 9

        Re: Here we go again

        My iPad 3 doesn't charge when I connect my old iPod classic connector - it needs more power. Just because these things are all the same shape, it doesn't mean devices won't need to ship with a new connector.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Here we go again

        Very serious point about cheap chargers that cost a fiver. By the time the retailer has taken a cut, VAT paid, and the device has been shipped from China, how much do you think the electronics cost?

        There are some tear downs on Youtube of cheap chargers. They are terrifying. Very low quality electronics with a bare minimum of isolation between circuits.

        The tear down of the fruity charger revealed some neat engineering and all the proper safety requisites met as no doubt most if not all proper "branded" chargers will also do.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go again

      Too busy creating what they run on, the UK produced an ARM...

    3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Here we go again

      No, the EU hasn't produced an Apple, a Microsoft, or a Google.

      But they have produced an ARM, which Apple, Microsoft, and Google all rely on.

  47. Karl H

    I like standards.

    I'm a fully paid up believer in common standards, and I wouldn't buy an iphone because of Apple's thought police completely controlling the device. I use a Samsung Galaxy 4 active, and much prefer it to my daughter's iphone 5.

    I do have to admit that the lightning connector is actually better than micro USB, primarily due to not having to worry which way around you have to plug it in. So for Apple users, the EU will be doing a disservice, maybe until we can have a polarity free micro-usb , assuming Apple don't have the patent on that.

  48. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Coming soon:* a standard laptop charger

    *for very large values of soon.

  49. Inachu

    YAY!!!!!!!!

    I am so sick of one phone needing 5 volts and a super tiny skinny pole to jam up the bottom of the phone or the side of it and it looks so flimsy!

    Then you have the connector that refuses to stay connected if the cord is short. Why can't you companies make it longer than 6 feet please? 8 to 9 feet would be very decent indeed!

    And stop making chargers that hog up the the space around it on my power strip!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not incompatible?

    Does this ruling actually stop Apple putting their own proprietary connectors on their phones - or any other manufacturer doing so?

    (I like the iPhone connector as it has line out which gives a superior connection to my car's inbuilt audio than an earphone connector with its capacity to pick up interference and other noise.)

    All it means is that all the phones need to be able to take charge from a standard micro USB cable.

    Surely Apple have the edge (no pun intended) since they have space round their phones which are not encumbered by buttons (compared with the three on my Nokia).

  51. phil dude
    Linux

    magsafe...?

    I see we are in full flow here, so I'll bite.

    If it is just for power the magsafe is a brilliantly simple innovation. I do not own any Apple products, but I have observed them in the wild.

    Some other random observations....

    My N8 charges off either the "pin" or microUSB. But it charges MUCH faster from the pin(1hr!).

    I lost an N900 to the flaky micro USB port, hence my comment about the magsafe.

    On the EU, if I understand correctly, in 2009 here in the US many phones became microUSB so it had a pretty beneficial "effec"t that here all the Androids have microUSB and the Apples don't.

    However at 2 am in a bar, just try finding an apple charger...

    P.

  52. Jason_H

    I, personally, much prefer Apple's connector to the damn stupid micro-usb.

    BUT if it puts a stop to all the stupid cable-chaos then I'm all for it.

    Looks like it's the VHS 'win' all over again to me.

  53. Gavin McMenemy

    Finally.

    Non standard cables has been a longstanding bugbear of mine. Well done EU!

  54. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    What's wrong with a 2.5mm jack plug?

    1. Mike Bell

      Too similar to the headphone jack. And it can't deliver data. People want that kind of stuff, just as much as they want power.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Besides, one big safety recommendation these days when connecting anything with a notable amount of power: connect the EARTH line first. USB and all the other modern plug designs follow that principle by making sure their shields (the normal use for shields is for earthing) touch first. You can't do that with the headphone-type plug. Part of the challenge you're looking it is to have a standard that follows the earth-first procedure, can carry both power and data, is relative easy to use and cheap to design, is thin so it can fit thinner phones, and put most of the wear-and-tear on the plug since it's easier to replace (thus why all the spring clips on a Micro USB setup are on the plug, not the socket like it was with Mini USB). Sure, Lightning ticks all the boxes, too, but it's not open, and it's not in Apple's interest to keep it open. Indeed, anyone with a proprietary design will be against openness since they'll seek lock-in. Allowing competition for a plug standard sounds fine until you have a dominant player with a the ability to push a standard only it can ever use.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legislation?

    Do we really need legislation for this? Back off Brussels!

  56. David Paul Morgan
    Devil

    micro usb not quite a panacea?

    I have a Sony Xperia S and and an Xperia T.

    I have 2 'car' socket adapters - one of which charges my T and S, one that charges the S only.

    Also, I have 2 of those portable add-on batteries - one solar + usb and one usb only.

    Neither will charge my T but both will charge the S.

    I understand, from the interweb, that there is a small difference in the way the pins work?

  57. David Evans

    Not just Apple

    Actually my two-year old Galaxy Tab has a non-standard connector, so its not just Apple. For the record, I'm not actually a fan of micro-USB; its way too easy to squash the connector; and its also effectively putting a lower limit on the thickness of a phone by standardising.

    I don't really see why the EU needs to get involved; if a manufacturer wants to plow their own furrow, let the market decide if it will tolerate a non-standard connector.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Europe don't even use the same type of household plug sockets across all countries

  59. mcduff

    The iphone charger made sense, once...

    While an apple fanboi (albeit an increasingly frustrated one), the connectors that apple uses (whether it is the myriad of video connectors the macs have used) or the 30 pin or lightening connectors for the iProducts, drive me nuts. We intentionally bought one of the last of the 30 pin iPads, so we would not have to add Lightening to our gaggle of connector cables that seem to vanish from our house in the middle of the nite.

    The 30 pin did make sense when it came out, particularly when iphod peripherals (such as speakers, clock radios, etc) were the rage. The robustness of the 30 pin connector and the potential of putting other signals through it (such as my old ipod video dock) made it a good connector for these peripheral. But with the wireless ways that you can connect these devices now (airplay, bluetooth speakers), I see little motivation in keeping it. I have a ipod classic that I used to connect all the time to my TV using the docking station. I have an iphone 4s that i rarely use this docking station with. If there is something on my iphone I want to see on the TV I use airplay.

    So I think Apple has out-engineered the need for this connector or even its replacement, Lightening. I say be done with them and lets just use the micro-usb.

  60. sisk Silver badge

    perhaps Cupertino's designers will take the hint and begin the thousands of hours' work trying to make sure that a generic interface can accurately reflect its brand values

    Is it actually possible for anything not horrendously proprietary to reflect Apple's brand values?

  61. RISC OS

    Eu take more time to agree upon a standard than the w3c

    By the time they do draw up standards everyhing will be done without wires and this will all be pointless.

    Anyway the standard will probabley whatever company that make adapters that the Euro MPs have shares in or their families have shares in,

  62. SafetyNerves

    By the time this happens Apple will have gone the way of Nokia

    Which either means it will take ages for the EU to agree or Apple is nearer the end than we yet understand.

  63. SafetyNerves

    the best connector would be no connector at all.

    Let's skip this standardisation phase and go straight for wireless charging standardisation!

  64. BOBSta
    Unhappy

    RIM fail as well as Apple

    The idea might be aimed at Apple, but RIM are just as much at fault! Not that it's likely to be a problem for people in the future, but...

    My wife previously had a Bold 9700 (mini-USB) and now has the Bold 9900 (micro-USB). Each phone's USB socket appeared normal for its type and came with a normal USB to mi__-USB cable which worked perfectly for data and charging from a PC. However, try to charge either of those phones with a non-Blackberry mains or in-car charger and the phone would refuse to charge!

    It's not just the socket format, it's the power levels that the device requires which also needs to be standardised.

    While they're at it, why don't they do laptop chargers too?

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: RIM fail as well as Apple

      OK: http://www.usb.org/developers/powerdelivery/

      Granted, that won't totally do my laptop (a bit of a monster that would _like_ 120W) I'd be happy with a 100W system that would run the thing or charge the battery, but not both (which is what happens when I plug in a 90W adapter instead of the 120W one).

      And it works over the normal USB connectors.

  65. Stuart Halliday

    Next year the EU will hopefully be tackling standardising power supply connectors on Laptops and Tablets. About time!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps they will legislate BOTH ends of the cable?

      All well and good to create legislation to take the place of competition. If that's the way it must work, how about settling on a single wall plug format across the EU? That would reduce the number of SKU's for equipment and appliances by a factor of 10. The sheer weight of the copper saving would be more significant than the savings from the device connector standardisation.

      OOOP's, Oh, I'm sorry, I almost forgot that the European Union doesn't stand for a group of countries that agree to work together as one country, it stood for a group of countries that do NOT agree to work together, they just agreed to LOOK like they do. There, that's much better now, I thought there might have been a massive outbreak of common sense in Europe. God forbid THAT should ever happen.

      Let's hope that they don't decide to legislate the orientation of all forms and types of connections, that could get really dicey given the state of things in Russia.

  66. Duffaboy

    This will please the Fanbois in the end

    Well it give them good reason to buy the latest model of Iphone when Apple have to incorporate this change.

  67. Igamogam

    Why should we have to buy micro USB cables? I don't have a single one, never needed them and can't see why I would.

    Have a couple of rarely used Mini-USB cables but find it easier to get hold of a Lightning or 30 pin cable when needed.

    Oddly enough the only non-Blackberry chargers that will revive my wife's detested and unreliable business phone are the Apple ones, so much for that pet theory...

    Hopefully Apple will just ignore the EU and give away their tiny m-USB to Lightning adapters to cover their backs and meet the legal requirement (have one but never needed it so far).

    Lightning is certainly tougher and easier to use than fiddly USB and despite what other folk have opined, you clearly can struggle to insert a USB cable (and bloody annoying it is too!) but if you've never used a better system you would not realise how crap micro/mini-USB really is... Just wait till you see the next iteration of the USB —makes SCART look elegant.

    Leave us in peace — we don't want a backward step that makes connectivity harder.

  68. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    SImple to obey while scuppering...

    Future Apple Manual: Under the removable cover (17) is a hidden micro-USB socket that can used for charging, thus meeting EU regulations. However the charging current into this socket is limited by design to 500mA and it would require 11 hours to fully recharge. We therefore recommend leaving this little, easy-to-misplace, intentionally-awkwardly-placed cover in place and just using the goldarn Lightning connector. Nah nah nah.

  69. csumpi

    "widely viewed as singling out Apple"

    Yeah, if you act like a dick, you'll be singled out. Good on the EU.

    Unfortunately this will never happen in the US, as Apple has half the politicians in the pocket.

  70. Algingautr
    Go

    no

    I asked if micro-USB is going to be mandatory for mobile phones at the Europe website. They answered this : (short answer: No)

    Thank you for sharing with us your question, which I try to answer below.

    Actually there are no European Directives that makes it mandatory to use Micro-USB chargers for mobile phones (both provided or not with data communication).

    A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on June 2009 by major producers to allow these devices to be charged through a common charger interface agreed by the Signatories, thus addressing incompatibility of chargers.

    The standard chosen at the time for common chargers was Micro-USB B-plug. More information about the Mou is available on http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/rtte/chargers/story/index_en.htm .

    As the MoU has expired on December 2012, the Commission has launched a study to evaluate the results achieved with the MoU. The study will take into account technological innovations for appropriate follow and will consider the possibility of using alternative solutions than the ones used in the past MoU. A possible extension of the harmonization of chargers initiative to new categories of products, such as the new generation of mobile phones and other small portable electronic devices like digital cameras, tablets and music players will be also taken into account. The study, other than analysing technical and economical issues, will take into account the opinion of involved industries, stakeholders and consumers. The outcomes of the study will be available by the first semester of 2014.

    The study will be the basis for any future follow-up activities including voluntary agreement and legislation. At this time, there is no evidence at all that the scenario you are indicating will be the implemented one.

    Hope to answer to your question. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need this answer in Dutch.

    Yours sincerely,

    Luca DEL COLOMBO

  71. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    @Algingautr you do realize you're interrupting some good old EU bashing here by posting those so-called "facts", right?

    I mean, that response you posted seems rational, and it reports a rather different viewpoint: it was an MoU (not a regulation), the MoU has expired, the EU is looking at the results, considering whether it worked, and on the basis of the previous experience looking to see if it would be worthwhile doing something similar and/or more ambitious again.

    How are people supposed to getting hysterically nationalistic about that ?

    (OK, the bit about getting an answer in Dutch is, obviously, a hint that IF you asked the question in that language, your answer would have been something like:

    Ja! Ve vill force der stupid Englanders and Yankee scum to zeir knees! Vive Edam!

    Or something.)

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    INCOMPETENT & ARROGANT

    As an aerospace engineer I am APPALLED by the complete stupidity of such a decision, that the possibly WORST technical solution has been found.. .!

    Instead of forcing all manufacturers to use adopt or best some of Apple's brilliant ideas (just plain LOOK at the universal power connectors of laptops or the Lightning adapter) they choose to use the FAR INFERIOR, breakage prone, voltage sub powered Micro USB, which reflects entirely the LOW IQ QUALITY of the average Eurobureocrat... For POWER a old fashioned coax plain connector is FAR more practical and carries far more power AND if made of honest materials is quite unbreakable !

    I sincerely hope the US will threaten the EU of imposing a MINIMUM CAR WIDTH REQUIREMENT of 200 cm as retaliation....

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