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

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

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  1. ColonelClaw

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick
        Pint

        Harruuuumph, Snort, Anon

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

    2. Bod

      Meh

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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That all depends

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

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

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

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: That all depends

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

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

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

      2. jai

        Re: Meh

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

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

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

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

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

        1. ravenviz
          Facepalm

          Scrabbling around in the dark

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

        2. Vulch

          Re: Meh

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

        3. Bullseyed

          Re: Meh

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

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

        4. Jess--

          Re: Meh

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

          Nice idea.....

          now which standard for wireless charging were you thinking of?

          Power Matters Alliance (PMA)

          Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) (Qi)

          Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP)

      3. El_Fev

        Re: Meh

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

      4. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Meh

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

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

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

        1. Cliff

          Re: Meh

          Wireless charging plus bluetooth, anyone?

        2. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Meh

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

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

        3. AbelSoul

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

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

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

          1. Craigness

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

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

        4. Bullseyed

          Re: Meh

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

          Uh oh, we found the Apple Fanboi.

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

          1. chr0m4t1c

            Re: Meh

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

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

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

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

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

            1. Alan Edwards

              Re: Meh

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

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

          2. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            >Uh oh, we found the Apple Fanboi.

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

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

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

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

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

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meh

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

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

          1. Myvekk

            Re: Meh

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

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

      5. Joel 1

        Re: Meh

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

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

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

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

      6. Andus McCoatover
        Windows

        Re: Meh

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

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Missing the point here?

      Are all batteries exactly the same?

      Do they all charge at the same rate?

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

      What about the various functions of a smart charger?

      What about the output of the charger?

      Colour of the charger?

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

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

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

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

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

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

  2. Thomas 4

    A tragic day

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

    Oh wait, no I won't.

  3. Bob Vistakin
    Facepalm

    Thinking Different?

    Nope, you're thinking wrong.

  4. stucs201
    Paris Hilton

    I don't see the problem

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

    (Paris? Multiple insertion points available...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't see the problem

      Indeed.

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

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

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: I don't see the problem

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

          1. Richard Jones 1
            Happy

            Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

              Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

          2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

            1. Steve Todd
              Stop

              @Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

          3. sisk Silver badge

            Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Digital can be higher fidelity than analog.

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

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

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

            1. M Gale

              Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

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

              1. sisk Silver badge

                Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

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

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

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

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

              2. Arthur Dent

                Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

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

      2. ravenviz
        Facepalm

        Topping up the device's battery at the same time

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

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

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

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

          1. Test Man

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

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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

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

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

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I don't see the problem

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

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

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I don't see the problem

          "Bluetooth is even nicer and cheaper to do"

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

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

          1. John Tserkezis

            Re: I don't see the problem

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

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

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

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

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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't see the problem

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

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

      4. Craigness

        Re: I don't see the problem

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

  5. You have not yet created a handle
    Childcatcher

    Appropriate use of icon..

    "assuming we're still part of the EU."

    Here's hoping we're not..

    1. zb
      Thumb Up

      Give some credit where it is deue

      This is a nice example of the EC getting things right. It happens more often than people think but it is only the absurdities that get any publicity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Give some credit where it is deue

        "This is a nice example of the EC getting things right"

        Only if your view of supra-state government is that its purpose is to dabble in the really important stuff like forcing a profitable and hugle successful company to adopt a rather flimsy connector that for valid commercial or technical reasons they've decided they don't want to.

        If it was important to the fanbois, they'd vote with their feet. I don't own any Apple kit, but I think Apple corporation and their customers are the people to decide on how their stuff works, not a bunch of tecnhically illiterate c*nts in Brussels who can't even get their own accounts audited.

        However, just as you are delighted with this sterling performance by the EU, leaping into action like a greased panther, I'm sure the 57.4% of Spanish youth who are unemployed will be f***ing delighted to hear that the overpaid @rseholes in Brussels have decided that Apple will have to use micro USB. Or the 41% of Italian young people, or 36% of Portugese youth.

        1. Alan Bourke

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          Hugle is my new favourite word.

        2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          Standards are a Good Thing(tm)

          The point of this is to allow flexibility to the consumer. If you think back to the bad old days, every phone manufacturer used a different charging connector. You often had to take your charger with you wherever you went, and would end up throwing the old charger away every time you bought a new phone.

          Now, most people can use USB to charge their device. They won't even need to take a cable with them, as their friends/colleagues/employer will have one. The only hold out of this is Apple, who insist on using their own proprietary connectors.

          If they are forced to allow charging through uUSB, this brings everyone together on a single, readily available standard. It will benefit all consumers. The only people it will damage are Apple, who won't be able to make such a killing on their vastly overpriced Lightning cables any more.

          "I think Apple corporation and their customers are the people to decide on how their stuff works"

          I doubt anyone buys an iThing because of the Lightning connector. The consumers buy Apple kit because they like the device, and one of the biggest complaints I hear from people is about the Lightning cable. This is not because it's a bad cable/connector, but because it is not the standard, and they have to carry their cable around with them. It also costs a fortune (relatively speaking) to replace when it breaks.

        3. Big_Ted
          Devil

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          @ Ledswinger

          What are you on ? take about a rambling anti EU post wrapped up in a flimsy attempt to say they are after Apple.

          This is about the fact that at the moment I have a phone from work that uses a pin connector to charge, my phone that is micro USB and a new camera from Samsung that uses another mini usb connector. It means 3 power supplys plugged ain for charging plus carrying round add to that a tablet, chromebooks starting to go micro USB istead of charging brick etc etc....

          Instead I will be able to buy any device and know I can charge it using just one cable / charger. this has several advantages, smaller packaging for phone etc, lower prices as I don't need to buy another one, less landfill.....

          Apple are just another company that are not using what has become bascally industry standard and will be required to do so, or do you think they should be able to only supply a 2 pin mains adaptor and force you to buy an adaptor to use it.

          As for your unemployed Spanish youth, they cant afford Apple so couldnt care less....

          1. Joe Gurman

            Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

            You have a strange – to me – idea of what the coercive powers of government are for. No doubt living in the US has led to my being bombarded by laissez-faire, capitalist propaganda, but I reckon governments have more important things to think about: clean air and water, safe pharmaceuticals and groceries, law enforcement, figuring out whom to kill by drone next, or figuring out when to shut down the government. Since there is no EU constitution, as in the UK, I suppose the regulators can regulate, and the legislators legislate, whatever comes into their collective heads. It just seems strange to this liberal (by US standards) that a government thinks its citizens can't be trusted to buy what they want — and note this is an economic issue (presumably less expensive micro-USB vs. more expensive proprietary connectors), not a safety one, as there's ample anecdotal evidence of people being incinerated by using cheap knockoff copies of either proprietary or "standard" connector chargers.

            The US government is clearly not a role model for anyone, but at least they don't try to micromanage what should be an easy consumer decision: do I want to buy a phone with yet another proprietary connector, or do I want to pay more in return for some features/bling/whatever?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

              > but at least they don't try to micromanage what should be an easy consumer decision: do I want to buy a phone with yet another proprietary connector, or do I want to pay more in return for some features/bling/whatever?

              Good fucking job that someone decided on standards for the Internet. Want to read Apple's web page? Get yourself Apple's proprietary browser. Perhaps, companies could choose the type of mains plug they put on their products? At the end of the day, this is about waste, and there is a stonking pile of mains adaptors thrown away every year because they are tied to the device.

              The EU is doing exactly what governments are supposed to do, deal with the big issues that affect pretty much everybody. Micro managing individuals and single companies is what they're *not* supposed to be doing. There is a difference.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

              "The US government is clearly not a role model for anyone, but at least they don't try to micromanage what should be an easy consumer decision"

              And that's why US consumers don't actually have any competition in the mobile phone market - if you get a phone from Verizon, you can't decide to switch to AT&T to get a better deal.

            3. Mike Richards

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

              This is part of the EU's internal market towards lowering barriers and increasing competition - it should be a capitalist's wet dream.

            4. PJI

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

              I believe one of the reasons for the proposed standard is not to tell citizens how to charge their telephones; it is to reduce the growing mountain of electronic device waste that is difficult to dispose of and amounts to an expensive, pointless, ecological and economic cost. i.e. it is to help society as a whole, just as any other rules on safety, waste disposal and so on.

              I think even the USA has certain standards, such as all driving on the same side of the road, vehicle exhaust standards, drinking age (and place - odd -not trusting its citizens to carry beer in full view, unlike guns), wearing seat belts, food and drug laws, paying taxes.

            5. The Indomitable Gall

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

              @Joe Gurman

              " It just seems strange to this liberal (by US standards) that a government thinks its citizens can't be trusted to buy what they want "

              What I want isn't available.

              I went a long time without a tablet, because Android couldn't do real-time audio processing like iOS can, but the iPad isn't compatible with my plethora of charging devices, or my case full of SD cards. (I have all sorts of cameras and audio gadgets in my drawers).

              I individually do not have the power to change that.

              So you'll say we need collective buyer power... and you know what? That's what government is supposed to be -- collective power.

              " and note this is an economic issue (presumably less expensive micro-USB vs. more expensive proprietary connectors), not a safety one, as there's ample anecdotal evidence of people being incinerated by using cheap knockoff copies of either proprietary or "standard" connector chargers. "

              It is economical and environmental -- if chargers are proprietary, we keep binning them, and electronic waste is a huge (and growing) problem.

              Besides, while nobody ever claimed it was about safety, safety may actually be improved as a happy side-effect: those faulty connectors you mention... do they have a CE mark? I doubt it -- EU safety regs are pretty damn good.

              You will never be able to stop people importing their own unsafe super-cheap chargers, but when you break the proprietary monopoly, and there's a CE-tested charger available for a fiver at a local shop, why are you going to leave yourself waiting up to a month to get a £2.50 charger shipped from Taiwan?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          Well, as a British person presently living in Portugal because my non-European wife is not allowed to settle with me in the UK (or even enter, thanks to the UKBA), despite us being married 4 years and having two kids together, I can say thanks to the EU for something *really* important - the right to live together with my family.

          And the youth here in Portugal may blame many things for the job situation at present, but the EU is certainly way lower on the list than the bankers.

          So let's jail all the bankers before we start this silly talk of leaving the EU.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Give some credit where it is deue

            That is bloody weird, I know plenty of people married to a non-EU citizen, and they have no problems getting a Visa for the UK, last I checked its EU law they have to grant her access unless there is a valid reason to refuse....

            1. The Indomitable Gall

              Re: Give some credit where it is deue

              @AC

              " That is bloody weird, I know plenty of people married to a non-EU citizen, and they have no problems getting a Visa for the UK, last I checked its EU law they have to grant her access unless there is a valid reason to refuse.... "

              You've not been reading the newspapers -- the Home Office have been refusing residency left, right and centre, even to people who have been resident, married and working in the UK for years. Poster examples include the Australian NHS mental health worker who was kicked out, and the US man who was the sole teacher in a Scottish rural school, as well as the sole carer for his critically ill wife, and was told where to go.

              The thing about EU law is that it often only determines how you treat people from other member states. So the UK has to grant access to a foreigner who has gained EU residency in another state, but it doesn't have to grant UK residency (and hence EU residency) to anyone directly.

              So lots of British people are now emigrating for a year to get an EU-registered marriage to their non-EU significant others, so that they can come home.

              Immigration laws in the UK are really the pits.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          You don't think many years of incompetence and political arse-ing about in the Italian system of government has had anything to do with their economic state then?

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Give some credit where it is deue

          Define a supra-state? Great Britain compared to its component countries? England compared to Northumbria and Cornwall?

          Silly bugger. Stop mouthing pointless slogans and appreciate that in certain areas people and businesses benefit greatly from standards. Just because a big company does well is no reason to oppose standards that are for us, not for the narrow interest of the big company.

          If their way is so wonderful, submit it to the standard makers, make a strong case for it and make it the standard.

          We need to see what comes out of these deliberations before ignorant comment, or put together a good submission to try to influence the outcome.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      @You have not yet created a handle

      Be careful what you wish for.

      There are far more Brits in Spain than Poles in Britain and I'm pretty sure the spanish would love to send them all back.

      Ditto the french, italians. portguese, etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appropriate use of icon..

      >>"assuming we're still part of the EU."

      >>Here's hoping we're not..

      If you really want to be banished to an island prison where you need a special pass to live and work just 50 km. away from the island, where you have trade barriers between you and your immediate, large market that cost all of us time and money, I am sure that Russia or China or even the more redneck areas of the USA can accommodate you.

      Meanwhile, having my available world living and working space and freedom of movement greatly enlarged for myself, my friends and my children is a wonderful source of gratitude and appreciation for me and most other grown ups I know. Are you aware that some 2 million UK citizens approve with their feet and live in Continental Europe, with plenty more rather keen to do so if they find the work? Are you aware that nearly all major and middling businesses in UK are rather pleased to be in a larger, local trading block than the island economy to which you would restrict them?

      I recall travelling to our neighbours before EU days, with currency restrictions (amount taken out written in the back of the passport even), restrictions on moving etc.. Look at how, for instance, the USA imposes trade barriers, official and unofficial, on imports, on businesses setting up in USA.

      No, get with it and enjoy and use the freedom of movement restored to us, that disappeared over a hundred years ago until restored by EU membership. And do n't give me that UKIP crap about special relationship a la Switzerland or Norway: these are small countries, population-wise and actually have the problem of being subject to regulations and requirements in the making of which they have no say. Switzerland is even in Schengen, unlike fearful little Britain.

      Really, this colossal ignorance and fear is sad and shameful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Appropriate use of icon..

        > Really, this colossal ignorance and fear is sad and shameful.

        The problem is, we could do all of this without the EU.

        Trade barriers, borders, tariffs, restriction of movement of goods and people. These are all things imposed by governments. That the EU is bringing this as a benefit to us belies the reality. They are merely rolling back the incredible numbers of restrictions and oppressions given to us by our governments.

        Is there really *any* reason why I can't just travel from the UK to Frances without asking permission of HM customs? The whole thing smacks of serfdom. If the EU is the only way we can achieve this, then I'm all for it.

        But we don't need "rights" to do what we should be naturally be able to do without the unreasonable restrictions placed on us, by force, by our own lords and masters.

      2. M Gale

        Re: Appropriate use of icon..

        I recall travelling to our neighbours before EU days

        Admittedly, "before EU days" was pretty much the cold war, and there was all kinds of other crap to deal with. You know, like Germany being split across the middle by a bloody big wall and people getting their arses shot off for trying to cross over it.

        Also the UK has agreed to some parts of the Schengen agreement. I think the healthcare provisions are one part. So, if you're in an EU country that isn't your home, and you fall sick, you can use that country's health service. Yes, even if you are a Pole living in the UK. I think there is even some provision where if you are ill in your home country, the domestic health service cannot help you, and there is a treatment elsewhere in the EU, you can travel to the other country and have your home nation's health service pay for the treatment.

        It helped immensely with a friend trying to get on the Sativex program when he managed to say to the NHS guys in so many words, "marijuana is a treatment that works for my conditions, so how about I go to Amsterdam and you pay for it?"

        He's on Sativex now, and yep, it works.

    4. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Appropriate use of icon..

      "assuming we're still part of the EU."

      Here's hoping we're not..

      Yeah, did you hear that those nasty Eurocrats were trying to feed our starving poor?

      Those pinko Guardianistas don't seem to get it:

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/17/government-under-fire-eu-funding-food-banks

      They just don't understand that if we don't starve families to death, people won't have any motivation to develop entrepreneurship skills and become the sort of self-employed go-getters we love: contract cleaners who draw minimum wage for 3 hours' work a day, and can be ditched the moment they take a day off for illness. It's the flexibility of these heroes of industry that makes Britain great.

  6. Chrome

    About bloody time

  7. hi_robb

    Hmm..

    Will companies that refuse to comply be hauled in to the dock?

    /Gets coat

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Hmm..

      Hope so as long as they are all charged the same way.

  8. Sandpit

    Not only but also

    "particularly Apple fanbois, who currently have to pay a small fortune for an official fruity charger"

    Even if it's a standard plug, fanbois will still "have" to pay a fortune for an official one.

    But yes, this is all well and good talking about a charger, but these bespoke sockets don't just charge, so when are they going to mandate the universal A/V data sync etc. cable?

    1. jai

      Re: Not only but also

      these bespoke sockets don't just charge

      I think this where the problem is going to be.

      instead of having one socket, you'll now have two. one for charging via the universal connector that won't do anything else, and then another one that'll be used for the data syncing, AV output, peripherals, etc etc.

      So now, every phone will come with two cables, and a charger. Instead of the one cable and charger that they now come with. Way to "reduce unnecessary waste" !!!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Not only but also

        Sounds like my last few company Nokia dumbphones (as I'm too much of a minion to yet warrant a smartphone - I only work for a company that produces micro-chip making equipment, so nothing too high-tech or useful for us). All have had mini- or micro-USB ports, but can you charge them that way?

        No way Jose - you have to use the other little hole in the bottom (or top in the most recent brick) solely for charging, and make sure that you don't stick it in the headphone socket by mistake. And of course they even changed the connector on that power connector to a shorter/thinner one a couple of phones back, so it's another stack of chargers that are useless unless you go buy yet another adaptor...

      2. M Gale

        Re: Not only but also

        So now, every phone will come with two cables, and a charger. Instead of the one cable and charger that they now come with. Way to "reduce unnecessary waste" !!!

        Or the vast majority of phones will come with a single port that does everything and fits to most phones, and a couple of awkward bastards will insist on using a seperate port for "enhanced functionality". You know, like data.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not only but also

        "instead of having one socket, you'll now have two. one for charging via the universal connector that won't do anything else, and then another one that'll be used for the data syncing, AV output, peripherals, etc etc."

        Or a socket which can handle MicroUSB + extended plugs, like Nokia used to do with their charging shoe years ago.

  9. M7S

    There's more good news in the press release

    " The rules aim to keep pace with the growing number and variety of radio equipment devices and ensure that they do not interfere with each other while respecting essential health and safety requirements."

    IF (note capitalisation) this works then presumably as kit us replaced over time my wifi and cordless telephone will no longer be wiped out by the microwave/baby monitor etc next door and also the amateur beardies will no longer be stuffed by Ethernet-over-power.

    Admittedly when I saw the bit in the article about negotiating the sale radio equipment I held out some hope about abolishing DAB and standardising on DAB+ but you can't have everything...

    1. c:\boot.ini

      Re: There's more good news in the press release

      Write to your MEP and pray that he understands your message ... most of them will not ...

  10. c:\boot.ini

    I have trouble understanding why an iPhone user will have to save money for a new dock - certainly Apple WILL NOT add a second port to their phone, because of "space" restraints - they want the thing as small and slick as possible.

    What this will mean, though, is that the next dock he buys will cost a 1/10th of the price and provide the same functionality ... if he buys it online, that is ... PCWorld will still sell the shit at "silly consumer" prices....

  11. Paul Leigh
    Black Helicopters

    Warranties....

    I just wonder how this will affect warranties. If a rogue "few quid" charger causes damage to a phone, is the PSU mfr liable or the mfr of the phone being charged or even the person who without any forethought or technical training, plugged the two together?

    I imagine the support system writers are adding this question to their scripted genius help sheets right now.

    1. jaduncan

      Re: Warranties....

      The manufacturer of the charger, assuming the power output is out of spec. I'm glad I could clear that up for you.

  12. Thomas Whipp

    If I was Apple, I'd simply bundle a convertor which could plug into the current port and allow charging via micro USB. I'd be amazed if that was particularly hard to do - charging shouldn't be more than two pins and the adapter could do any negotiation necessary (and presumably would negotiate to a low speed charge with some smoothing to account for the fact that they probably wont trust the input voltage to be exactly what they want)

    From a design perspective I think its unlikely they'd add a second port within the handset and from what I can see the standard will only apply to chargers not docks (and do you really want a mandated technical interface standard for docking stations set by a political forum?)

    1. Davidmb

      Like this?

      I assume that this is Apple's response. Since the change has been coming for years, they've had plenty of time to prepare:

      http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MD820ZM/A/lightning-to-micro-usb-adapter

  13. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    Oh no! They're planning SCART 2.0 !

    The last "Euro-connector* harmonisation" effort was SCART - you know, that lumpen abomination of a connector which could be wired in so many incompatible ways and which lacked any kind of positive retention mechanism so when you'd finally got a cable that implemented the right combination and direction of signals, it always worked itself loose just as you pushed your Sky-box back into the gap above the VCR.

    * Largely pushed by Les Frogs.. I believe at one point it was actually illegal to sell a TV/VCR in France without it having a SCART connector.

    1. Zacherynuk

      Re: Oh no! They're planning SCART 2.0 !

      I always thought SCART was great. Though not perfect by a long shot - the varying cordsets were a PITA and early data bus control was varied, and the SVideo connections later on were one way.

      However, It allowed for a heap of stuff we didn't have before it - auto switching of multiple signal types, auto device on and channel selection, Aspect ratio selection, PPV implementation and on screen display / subtitling to name the cool things I recall.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re:Re: Oh no! They're planning SCART 2.0 !

        SCART great? A connector seemingly designed to fall out at regular intervals? SCART after judicial use of pliers to ensure the connector stays in is quite good but the easy in fucking easy out design was quite laughable.

        1. Test Man

          Re: Re:Oh no! They're planning SCART 2.0 !

          Depends. What I really hate about SCART is how big it is and how it's placed in the most stupidest places imaginable, which usually means you take an hour to push a cheapo cable into the slot because the cable coming out of it is forced up against another bit of cable (like the aerial cable) or a bit of the plastic backing jutting out like some evil penis.

        2. Zacherynuk

          Re: Re:Oh no! They're planning SCART 2.0 !

          I have more more issues with HDMI / HDCP than I ever had with SCART / Macrovision. At least with SCART I could re-solder and reuse in a matter of moments.

          Show me ANY OTHER cable and connector combo from 35 years ago which was better. Bearing in mind that the technology that the SCART connector brought to the playing field, the innovation it proved was the really good thing.

          Some fighter jet wiring looms *might* come close, certainly not those in the jaguar or the nimrod - but at least they had leverage fastenings.

  14. jai

    more propagander hate-articles by Jasper

    Just spent 50 quid on the latest iPhone dock? You'd better start saving for a new one

    For starters, you've been ripped off as even the official Apple docks are only 25 quid!

    And secondly, it's three years until this comes into force - you've got a very low opinion of El Reg readers if you think it'll take them 3 years to save up 50 quid. And anyway, aren't you always suggesting that Apple owners have more money than sense, so by that logic the cost of a new dock will be negligable to us.

  15. bigtimehustler

    Errr, Apple doesn't have to stop using any of its own ports, it just needs to also include a micro usb port (as thats likely to becomes the stabdard) as well if it chooses which charges the phone as well. Whether they do this or not will depend on design and inside space.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      If the legislation allows it, they might even only have to include a "standard-to-proprietary" adapter, and keep having proprietary adapters everywhere.

      Here's to hoping the American government does not decide to pass the same law, and go for a different standard. That would actually make the phone manufacturers happy, since that would make importation between countries impossible.

      That said, I am against the legislation. All other matters aside, Apple has bloody good connectors for its laptops. Having a legislation like that (adapted to laptops) would have made these connectors impossible to introduce.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Why would that make importing impossible? Generally the cables connect to a plug separately, so you just buy a UK plug and connect it to your US cable....

  16. messele

    The Apple charger IS universal though. There is nothing stopping you plugging other USB phones in to charge them.

    The cable isn't universal though but then consider this:

    The USB standard does not support anything more than about 5 watts over a mini connector so how is it that Apple should have to lower their standards and produce shite chargers with inadequate power supply capabilities just because everybody else is happy to stick with a cruddy design. How are you supposed to use and charge an iPad at the same time (and yes, in the context of power supplies phones and tables are the same thing).

    Let's not forget why this came about, different designs of chargers and (captive) cables for all the crappy old Nokia guff from the last decade where virtually every phone had a different charger SKU. It's take the EU this long to get their shit together and now they are going to make a ridiculous mandate to correct a problem from the last decade that has already been solved.

    Plus Lightning was designed to switch signalling as faster technologies come into play, hence the chip in the connector. But I'm not even starting on that one.

  17. Julian Taylor Silver badge

    Overpriced, late and useless

    We can almost guarantee that the design will be completely useless, will cost well over €1 billion to develop, will be delivered 10 years after the deadline and by that time the EU will have forgotten about it. The only people who will remember this will be, as per normal EU fantasies, the poor bloody European taxpayer.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Overpriced, late and useless

      Er, you do realise that the uUSB connector is already in use (for charging and data) by almost everyone except Apple? I've not heard the design is useless or late.

      Or have you posted on the Reg when you meant to post on the Daily Mail?

    2. Piro

      Re: Overpriced, late and useless

      Whoops, you're wrong. It already exists and it's just normal microUSB.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Overpriced, late and useless

        but no where have they stated that the standard will be microUSB.

        and even if they do, it's forcing phone manufactures to stick with a connector that's been around since 2007.

        yes, you can use it with a phone/tablet with a usb3 connector, but as i understand it, not the usb4 connector.

        At some point in the future, we'll be wanting the speed that comes from USB 4, or 5 or whatever. But will this legislation prevent that from being possible, unless the manufactorers build two ports on each device? One for modern high-speed data transfer and the other for the legacy, 2007 format charger?

  18. volsano

    A legally-enforced standard for power adapters in 2017 puts the EU where China was in 2006.

    It's a sign of the changing times.

  19. JDX Gold badge

    Not sure about this

    While I think a standard is very much a Good Thing (whether it's an existing mini-USB or Lightning or something brand new), I'm not sure I like government dictating what companies can and can't do. Shouldn't market forces be allowed to work here?

    Also, if this is an EU thing does it mean Apple can sell Lightning-based phones in the US and USB (or whatever) in the EU if they choose? The US is their biggest market and changing connector AGAIN to please the EU might be very unpopular with the Yanks.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Not sure about this

      Obviously EU law only applies within the EU.

      Market forces need trimming in occasionally for the good of the customer, or else the companies each make their own chargers and sell them for 20 times the cost with no competition, and then change the charger with the next model to force the end user to buy another charger. This is wasteful of resources (most people have either binned vast quantities of chargers or have a good collection) and expensive.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Not sure about this

        or else the companies each make their own chargers and sell them for 20 times the cost with no competition

        Only Apple does that. Pretty much every other phone maker has standardized on micro-USB with no law telling them that they have to. I'm not sure if it's market forces or just that rare beast of corporate responsibility, but it seems that none of the other manufacturers need to be slapped upside the head and told to get with the program.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure about this

      "Shouldn't market forces be allowed to work here?"

      Market forces gave Internet Explorer 80% of the browser market - it came with the PCs that people were buying.

      Were you calling for market forces to be allowed to work their magic when the EU forced the Browser Ballot on end users?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The world does not revolve around Apple

    Wow... the fanbois are out. Perhaps they should just calm down and take a deep breath.

    This isn't anti-Apple legislation. Over the years Nokia, Samsung et al have all been guilty of producing a wide variety of charging connectors, of different sizes and power outputs, resulting in millions of perfectly usable chargers being binned when the phone got replaced/stolen/broken.

    Those of us fortunate enough not to own Apple kit are quite happy with a standard connector. We're happy that our chargers for Samsung phones will work with Sony phones, and LG with HTC. Apple had the opportunity last year, when designing the new iPhone, with a smaller connector, to go with micro USB. They chose not. They have several choices... hope the legislation allows for the use of converters, re-design the iPhone to include micro USB or stop selling in Europe.

    They could, of course, choose to offer the lightning connector forward as the connector for all phones etc, patent and royalty free.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

      They could, of course, choose to offer the lightning connector forward as the connector for all phones etc, patent and royalty free.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      *gasp*

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      *deep breath, pick myself up off the floor*

      Hehehe, Apple, offer something they made royalty free. Good one.

      1. Andrew Hart

        Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

        "Hehehe, Apple, offer something they made royalty free. Good one."

        You mean like mini displayport?!

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

          Don't let facts get in the way of being a moron...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

          mini displayport.... they shrank the plug on the end of the cable... wow... those billions are being put to good use.

          1. Don Jefe
            Boffin

            Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

            Anytime you can reduce the size of a component it's a big deal. The largest dimension of the largest component in a system defines the smallest possible dimemsion for that system. The largest design advantages and the greatest consumer benefits, come when you reduce the dimensions of a larger component, but that's also the hardest part. Those components were originally specced that size for a reason.

            Reducing the size of a surface mount resistor gives you little benefit, it's already tiny. Reducing the size of a component that uses 15%+ of available real estate on the edge of the board (and the body of the phone) is a really big deal. Gains at that scale allow you to completely reconfigure the board and to provide a much larger array of accessibility & control options on the edges of the device.

            While it's got fuck all to do with Apple, it's incredibly obvious you've never designed a thing in your life. Much less something that's got to be produced by the tens of millions and all be exactly the same, every time when produced by anyone else. When you're designing an all new component you don't go to the store and say I want (x) just smaller. You're on the hook for not only the design of the component, but the design of the manufacturing and materials processes, equipment required as well as controlling the final costs of the new component, it is a full bore engineering activity that requires specialists in many discliplines.

            Reviewing the entire process would require many, many boring books, but when you're designing a new part you've got to start from absolute scratch. Many new reduced size component designs die because the materials used in the larger version simply won't scale down that small. Reducing the size of a stamped metal component (like a multi connection plug) by just 10% often requires you to spec an entirely different metal because the originally specced metal simply can't be bent or cut at a smaller scale. You've got to reengineer the dies and molds for every step of the process. The list goes on and on. The original component was made that size for a reason, you've got to overcome those challenges too.

            Anytime someone successfully creates an all new component for mass production it's a significant achievement and should be lauded. Doesn't matter who they are. There are probably no more than 30-35 one stop companies on Earth (we are one of those) who can handle every step of the engineering process, even for something as 'simple' as a video connector. The costs are far too high for consumer electronics to do their engineering that way, so you've got to get a bunch of different companies on board, collaborating and contributing to the design. Either way you do it, the engineering challenges are great and the project management involved should be a model for everything. There's no 'just' or 'simple' in any part of the process.

      2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

        WebKit?

        Darwin?

    2. Don Jefe
      FAIL

      Re: The world does not revolve around Apple

      How can somebody be 'guilty' of producing something that renders older technology obsolete? That's one of the most fucking short sighted thing I've heard in a while.

      Cars and trains rendered horses obsolete, so obsolete that you guys in the UK drew up proposals to eradicate the animals. All of them. Everywhere. They were vectors for disease and too real estate intensive. Your King had to kill the idea. It took a monarch to put a stop to such foolishness. It's too bad you guys got away from monarchs with actual power, you aren't doing democracy well if stopping innovation is the best you can manage.

      Should the EU have stopped the development of automobiles because horses would be rendered obsolete? Maybe mandate backwards compatibility! Cars would be required to utilize traces and tack. Maybe no rubber tires or the development of vulcanized rubber because tires like that wouldn't be compatible with wooden wheels. Think of the wainwrights and wheelwrights who would be displaced as well!

      BREAKING NEWS: Europe calls for end of any new technology which renders old technology obsolete. More details via semaphore at two fingers height of the rising sun the day following the Winter Solstice.

      Christ. People just don't think things through.

  21. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >In the EU at least, they may soon be able to buy a Tesco value plug for a few quid

    Don't bother. I was looking for a USB wall plug adaptor in Tescos the other day. "Rapid USB Charger" says the box. I opened it up and it was specced as 5v 600mA.

    I had a mind to report them to Trading Standards, since they wanted £9 for it!

  22. Mike Bell

    Move along now, nothing to see here

    " the new radio equipment rules will oblige manufacturers to make mobile phones compatible with a common charger"

    So, Apple will supply an adaptor that allows iPhones to connect to the generic charger. Big deal.

  23. sisk Silver badge

    Realistically what I expect is that Apple will go to phone designs that have two ports. One will be under a hard to see cover, never mentioned by Apple, and follow the new requirements. The other will be a lightning connector exactly where you expect to find it.

  24. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Will it blend?

    If it's homogenized, it sounds like it has been blended already.

    Sorry, couldn't resist, last Friday at work before Xmas and all that.

  25. vmistery

    My Note 3 can use MicroUSB and MicroUSB 3.

    I rather had wished they would just make a better designed version of the microUSB port rather than another oddly shaped hard to plug in in the dark adapter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exhibit A: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_%28connector%29

  26. Geoff Campbell
    Facepalm

    Cables?

    How charmingly retro. Can't remember the last time I plugged any form of cable into my phone.

    GJC

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Cables?

      Thanks for sharing.

  27. Miguel Candeias Silver badge

    The devil in the detail

    Who's going to stop Apple from keeping it's connector and supplying a Lightning to micro USB adapter whit it’s tat? Then you’d have to use both the new common charging plug *and* their proprietary connector, keeping everything the same...

  28. Don Jefe

    I Don't Get It

    Firstly, looking for 'safety' under the Christmas tree is the wrong place to be looking. The trees themselves are responsible for several deaths by crushing, hundreds of house fires and millions in property damage and veterinary bills each year. If you want 'total safety' and a risk free Christmas don't have a tree, real or artificial that is more than 12" tall or has lights or detachable ornaments.

    But, while I agree no universal charging standard in place is mildly irritating, I think they're barking up a weird tree. There's no universal standard for home appliances in most places, that's why they don't come with power cords, or on a plethora of other things 'everybody' has. Should the turntables in microwaves be universal? How about the racks in stoves and toasters? Car parts? I've got a car that only one company makes tires for and they're only available through the dealer, do we get rid of those things too?

    Letting government choose product options is a really dumb idea. You can't do that then turn around and argue for competitive markets. The two things absolutely cannot coexist. The micro-USB charger is the reason my wife chose a Samsung phone, her camera and other doodads all use the same plug. I give exactly zero fucks about cross compatibility. If I like the thing, I'm buying it, and all the assorted crap that comes with it, if that means different chargers or insanely expensive tires or buying all new coffee mugs because my oversized ones don't fit in the in-wall coffee machine. Those are my choices, if the thing costs extra because of wonky accessories then so be it, I can buy it or not.

    Deciding what adds value to a product and what doesn't shouldn't be in the purview of governmenty bodies. Think that through just a little bit, nobody, absolutely nobody thinks government, any government, does a good job of determining value. If they did there would be about 90% fewer news stories which are nearly universally based on some aspect or repercussion of government spending. Nobody thinks government can decide what has value with your tax dollars, you're going to give them the same level of control of your personal products???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Don't Get It

      Wow... no power leads? What kind of backward country do you live in? I can't remember the last time I bought a home appliance that did not have the cable factory-fitted with a moulded plug on the other end. Toaster, kettle, TV, washing machine, dishwasher... all with fitted leads.

      As for your comparison of standards within household appliances, that really does not stand up. When was the last time you had more than one dishwasher? (Three people in my house with a phone each, two tablets and a mifi - all microUSB) When did you last take your toaster on holiday? Microwave to your friends house? Phones go everywhere, households have multiples of them and they are replaced more often than toasters and kettles. Having a standard plug and charger, that does not need to be included with the tens of millions of new phones every year is just plain common sense.

      Of course, someone who buys a car with tyres that can only be supplied through the dealer has no appreciation of common sense.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I Don't Get It

        I can't remember the last time I bought a home appliance that did not have the cable factory-fitted with a moulded plug on the other end. Toaster, kettle, TV, washing machine, dishwasher... all with fitted leads.

        FWIW most radios use a mini-euro connector, computer power supplies also a use a normed connector. Another area the EC has looked at is notebook power supplies which have the same kind of barriers to entry as mobile phone chargers.

        My most recent phone came with a cable and without a charger. Happy with that.

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: I Don't Get It

        Here in the US 240VAC appliances don't come with leads because people have different receptacles in their homes. You purchase the appropriate cord and just wire the terminals up, it isn't exactly difficult.

        The 'common sense' you appear to be talking about is giving government control of consumer electronics product development? I'm not sure if you've looked at your Parliament lately, but precisely zero of those people are shining examples of common sense. Why are you OK with them choosing which technologies you can use? They could just as easily mandate all new computers come from the factory with Windows. Do you let them decorate your home and do your landscaping too? Why not?

        As far as the car, everything about it is wildly impractical, so what? The car comes equipped that way and if I want that car I just have to eat the extra costs of the tires and whatever else is required that's weird or special, and that's my decision. Because you don't approve of it does that mean you want government to prevent me from having it? How about government just mandate a universal car tire.

        Cars go everywhere with you, households have multiples and cars are replaced more often than toasters or kettles. Having a standard tire that fits every car means tens of millions of odd size tires wouldn't need to be shipped around or stocked. It's just common sense.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People still use connectors?

    Wireless charging and Bluetooth here on my Nexus5 here.

    Connectors (like everything else iPhone) are so 2010.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: People still use connectors?

      So you like slow, inefficient charging then? Wireless transmission of power isn't clever, nor is it particularly useful compared to a small, light cable that you can carry around and plug in to the nearest USB A socket.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do this with laptops as well, then I will be very happy! I hate the overpriced crap apple sells for chargers, 4 years with a non apple laptop, charger works great, 6 months with a macbook air, the charger breaks, get replacement, breaks 6 months later... crap basically... I love the magnetic idea, but in practice the cables are too weak and break.

    1. Don Jefe

      The way innovation and competitive markets work is that if you buy something and are terribly dissatisfied with some aspect of it, you don't buy another. Maybe you choose a different model next time, or even a completely different brand, but that's why we have lots of different products. People find value in many different things and what you find valuable may be worthless to someone else. There's no law, and there shouldn't be, that you'll be satisfied with every aspect of every purchase.

      Your argument is no different than a government body deciding that, based on installed base and continuing popularity that all operating systems have to be Windows, and all function exactly the same, but be available from different manufacturers. So you can have Red Hat Windows, but it'll be the same as MS Windows or Apple Windows. You're obviously a Mac guy, but you could be a Linux guy, it wouldn't matter, based on what the government deems valuable, you're now a Windows guy because you're in a minority and you're obviously incapable of determining value for yourself.

      If a product isn't dangerous when used correctly, the government should have no role in determining value. That's up to you as the consumer to decide and it's up to the manufacturers to build things you find value in. If you don't feel you got your value from a purchase you choose again. You're taking a risk in buying a product and manufacturers are taking a risk making different things for you to find value in. You aren't entitled to be satisfied with your purchase.

    2. James R Grinter

      Got to wonder what you're doing with them. I've got two MagSafe chargers, had both over three years, and they're still running fine (though new kitten has developed an unhealthy interest in one- it'll be that which kills the cable, if anything)

  31. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Shameless baiting

    Although the EU is well known for its diversity policies, it has been planning to homogenise phone chargers for some time...

    The EU is not well-know for its diversity policies: it (actually the European Commission) has taken countries to court over positive discrimination, the US has far wider-reaching and less effective policies. The EC enforces open markets both of the employment and of the gadget kind. It has even started to look at the UK's dysfunctional power distribution market.

    As for the UK in 2017 - unlikely that a referendum on membership can be held before then and even then the UK will be bound by most EU norms as are other countries in the EEA / EFTA.

  32. InITForTheMoney

    Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

    I remember reading early versions of the EU standard that specified that the charge brick must present a USB A port. You should note that at present, Apple sell the Charge Brick and the lightning cable as separate items, they don't sell a charger with a cable.

    They will continue to sell the lightning cable as a data cable, separately to the charger. The charger complies with the regulation by presenting USB A. The cable will get around it by virtue of it's primary function being a data cable, it's secondary function being to allow the device to charge. You will note that Apple always call the lightning cable, the lightning cable, never the power cable or charge cable, the fact that the cable has a chip in it re-enforces that the cable is intelligent and sends data signals every time it is connected to the iPhone or IPad in order to negotiate the connection, it is therefore not a power cable or charge cable it is a data cable that negotiates the provided services.

    As a result, Apple will continue to use the Lightning connector and argue it's case in court with the EU if necessary and it will almost certainly win, because it can prove that the cable is not strictly used for charging.

    1. Macoute

      Re: Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

      This is the right answer IMO.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

      Of course they'll work around it. There's an impression that governments come up with these consumer/citizen positive legislative proposals and just surprise everybody with them. That simply isn't the case, an short story illustrating this follows:

      Years ago I was hired to develop policy guidelines that were compatible with the engineering realities of locomotives and railcars for the Federal Railway Administration. Every significant player in the US, South American and European railroad industry, in every sector from administration to railcar parts manufacturers were involved from day 1.

      I was the middle man between governments and end users and my role was to find middle ground between safety and costs (it was a terrible job, it took years and I ended up being the bad guy in every discussion). My point is, myself and the team I put together built our guidelines for realistic safety policies (you're welcome if you've been on a train in the last 20 years :) with equal parts input from those effected by the policies and those who created the policies. Even draft proposals were reviewed and edited by everyone involved and the final result satisfied everyone but also either didn't put anyone out or have them enough time to prepare without ill effect.

      People knew for years what was coming and the workarounds, exceptions and scheming was known and done before the final guidelines were even accepted. Everybody knew what was real and what was just bullshit that sounded good but had no practical was long before it went into practice.

      Not only were there no surprises, every single part of the guidelines were built with specific companies in mind. Everybody got something and nobody was put out.

      This will have been the same with mobile manufacturers. Let's say we're OK with standardized charging plugs, but we'll have the rules written so they're meaningless. That's just the way policy is developed, in every country on the planet. The politicians and bureaucrats get points with the public and the manufacturer gets to look like good, compliant citizens. Everybody wins, except the taxpayer who funds the policy development.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

      What "charge brick"? Having an iPhone 4s and now a 5s, I found no "brick" in the box and can change without problem. My old laptop has a larger, external charger. But it is rather svelte and small compared with any Windows PC I've had at home or at work.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

        The charge brick is that little doodad with the USB A slot you plug the cable into. I'm pretty sure you got one in your box, everybody else did...

        On your other point, I assume you're talking about the inline power supply on your laptop? That's 100% a function of production cost streamlining, the OS has zero effect on the design of the power supply.

        1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

          Re: Bet Apple have already gotten around this in advance...

          "The charge brick is that little doodad with the USB A slot you plug the cable into. I'm pretty sure you got one in your box, everybody else did..."

          Actually, Apple have been selling mobile devices without PSUs for some time now. In fact, I'm not sure even iPads come with them any more, though my original iPad did as it required a higher output than standard USB ports could provide at the time. Their laptops do, obviously, but most people just charge their Apple mobile devices from the nearest handy USB socket. Same as everyone else.

          This has been the case for nigh-on ten years now. Hence the "WTF?" reactions from Apple customers to The Register's click-bait headline. You can buy separate chargers if you want – and, yes, Apple will charge a hefty mark-up, as is their wont* – but the iPhone and iPods all come with a Lightning (or, for some older models, 30-pin) cable that has a perfectly standard USB A plug at the other end.

          As for "overpriced" chargers: I have a twin-USB charger – a Belkin one, I think – I use for my old iPod classic and my iPhone 4. Works just fine. And cost a whopping, usurious, er... €7.99. Including two cables.

          For the life of me, I have no idea what the article is actually trying to say here. The only part the EU can justify legislating on is the connector type and power output on the transformer itself. Most companies – including Apple – have already standardised on a USB socket for that, though the power output varies quite wildly due to the rather obvious fact that manufacturers tend to use batteries of differing capacity depending on context.

          (E.g. the iPad 3 cannot charge from a standard laptop USB socket unless it's in standby. Switch it on and the power flowing into the device isn't enough to allow it to operate and charge at the same time. Hence the Lightning connector, which can also talk to USB sockets on Apple's own computers and request a higher wattage when the computer itself is connected to the mains.)

          Legally mandating a specific socket on all mobile devices themselves effectively limits their design, and I can't see that going down well with any manufacturer, let alone Apple. This is also a road the EU really doesn't want to go down given the rapid pace of change in IT. The iPhone itself is barely six years old; the iPad is less than 4. Who knows what's coming next? If we move into wearable technology, or flexible screens, do you really think manufacturers will want to be tied to a (relatively) chunky connector design?

          * (Last time I checked, an official Sony PSU wasn't cheap either. Neither were Samsung's. But, as with Apple kit, there's no shortage of respectable third-party alternatives that cost a lot less.)

  33. Don Jefe

    Updating Standards

    Mobile phones have been commercially available for 30 years and just now governments are getting around to enforcing a standard charging plug. If this had occurred in 1983 there would never have been a reason to develop ever smaller/better plugs. The standard would have been established and people would have screamed bloody murder if people tried to change it or use a non-standard plug. Are you satisfied the micro-USB standard will be the 'best' plug in 30+ years? You better be, because that's what you're going to have.

    On top of that, innovation and improvement do not happen in a closed environment. There aren't many things you can buy today that don't incorporate aspects of wholly unrelated components or processes. Take the size of mobile devices or laptops or tablets, no single component is responsible for the ever shrinking size and increasing power of those devices. Game changing innovation comes about when some clever people figure out how to exploit the various aspects of all the components in a system to maximum advantage and further innovation springs from those novel combinations of existing things.

    Super thin batteries incorporate the absolute worst power efficiencies of battery design, but they also provide advantages we as consumers like (smaller devices), advantages not possible without smaller plugs. Smaller plugs lead to even smaller batteries and the cycle continues. Stopping innovation in one component is stopping innovation in a whole lot of others and the systems they go into. It's a dumb thing to do.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Updating Standards

      To follow your argument to its logical conclusion: there is no need for standards of any kind. So no standard petrol caps: you can fill up at say either Shell or BP but not both, or maybe only Ford.

      Or, for phones: no need for GSM/UMTS/LTE, let's go back to CDMA, iDEN, etc.

      Saying that regulation is late is not an argument against it.

      I'm not convinced that micro-USB is mechanically the best connection, but the voluntary agreement by phone manufacturers within the EU can be considered a success.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Updating Standards

        I'm not sure you've actually applied logic to your statement... Is there room for improvement in petrol caps and the requisite petrol dispensing equipment?

        Late stage standardization of any component and its impacts on innovation is a very valid point and it's rather crucial. Effectively stopping the development of any component in a system limits the overall development potential of that system. That's engineering 101.

        In developing a product for mass production the very first thing you identify are required components that can't be customized (standardized components) as those components, nothing else, are the cornerstone of your product. Every single decision you make in the rest of the design is 100% based on the limitations imposed by those components. You've limited the developmental potential of the system.

        In a system like a phone, where many different vendors are supplying components the first things they're going to look for in their future component development are the limitations imposed on the system that component is being built for. All their decisions will be made based around those restrictions as well. In a mobile phone supply chain example, a battery manufacturer knows that as long as the plug standard is in place their current component footprint can never be reduced beyond where it's at right now. The stack on effects include stopping composites testing for battery bodies as the batteries don't need to be any smaller and the materials they use for bodies is adequate. That also means their manufacturing equipment doesn't need to be upgraded because it's already tuned to the composites they're using, it won't be changing.

        The list of absolute known stack on effects on innovation based on the physical size of the micro-USB plug would fill a small book. Every time you introduce a standardized component into a system you also rework your internal operations to take advantage of the cost savings of standardization (which are very real) but you are also extremely resistant to change in the standards because you've streamlined your operations around the limitations of the standard. That means standards don't get updated unless there's an extremely compelling reason. What initially benefits the consumer through the slowed growth of retail pricing due to standardization ultimately costs them more, a lot more, than they saved in terms of real money (no ongoing improvements means costs are several orders of magnitude higher when new development does finally occur and the consumer pays for that directly) as well as hindering technological advancement.

        I've been designing, engineering and building things for a very long time and nobody but the accountants like overly standardized systems. It's boring for the engineers and everyone else involved as you can't maximize any aspect of a system if the overall potential is held in stasis. Ultimately it results in less advancement in products and higher costs for consumers.

    2. PJI

      Re: Updating Standards

      30 years? 1983? "mobile" is relative perhaps. But the nearest to a mobile 'phone I came across in Europe, Asia or Australasia was a police radio. Perhaps citizen's band was around then too. I can not remember exactly. Of course, the armed forces had some interesting stuff. But I doubt the bloke wearing the rucksack and harness to carry it would think of it as "mobile" in today's sense. I am sure that there were prototype mobile telephones, probably the size of a house brick and weighing even more, useful for ringing the other three people who had one, provided you were quick enough before the battery died.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Updating Standards

        Yep. The first commercially available mobile phones were released in 1983, (the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X which can still get on contemporary GSM networks) the first 'cell phone' call was 10 year earlier in 1973. The 'flip phone' was introduced just six years later, in '89.

        So we went from laboratory experiment to commercial product in 10 years (which is unbelievably fast for new product categories to develop) and just six years later the size has been reduced several orders of magnitude. Just a few years later the 'candy bar' style phone hit the streets and battery life also started to see practical improvements and network coverage began to expand rapidly, the rate of advancement has continued to accelerate, right through today.

        Development of the entire category of mobile telephony has advanced so quickly because people wanted 'more' everything. That forces component manufacturers to create ever better and smaller components so phone manufacturers will use them in their products. Every single part of mobile telephony has been advanced because someone is always putting out improved products. Each component leans on at least one more and forces everyone to up their game.

        The more you reduce that friction between components with standardization the less room there is for continued development of all the other components, you lose design options with each and every standardized product you introduce into your design. In this example, manufacturers will focus on production savings to increase their margins instead of innovation. You can't innovate unlimitedly when your outside design parameters are defined by required standardized components.

  34. Graeme5

    Micro USB may be ok, but it was never designed for charging devices, what a shame they didn't pick something better.

    Also (an no I haven't read the spec) but surely apple just need to add a microUSB socket in addition to its own superior connectors. Just wire in the 5v from the usb to charge the device, even if it charges slower. its just a shame it won't be as clean a design.

  35. Joe Gurman

    I suspect Apple's solution will be....

    ....to stick one of these in the box: http://store.apple.com/us/search/MD820ZM#!. Probably end up trimming their profit margin by a Euro or two, but will mean their IStuff will continue to be compatible with all the kit usable everywhere else in the world.

  36. JonnyCab

    Yawn

    Fact: You can already buy cheap Apple charger cables.

    Fact: Cheap Apple charger cables last considerably less time than OEM ones.

    Fact: The Lightning connector was designed to reduce the size of the socket and it thus assist in the overall reduction of the size of the device.

    Why should one manufacturer be forced to change the complete design of its devices, because of a flaw in the thinking of the rest of the market.

    Before you dismiss my comments as 'fanbois' or whatever other silly name you want to come up with, consider this: The legislation is aimed at reducing the number of chargers that are produced, not the number of charger cables. Chargers have to be disposed of as electronic waste, cables do not.

    A better solution would be to insist that all phones should be capable of charging from a standard USB port and that no charger be supplied with the phone. Then punters could by any generic wall charger that produces the same output via USB.

    They could go a step further and say that bundled cables should be no longer than 30cm. USB extension leads are readily available.

    But that's just easy and would leave too little room for an argument about who is the most arrogant manufacturer.

    1. regnik

      Re: Yawn

      "Chargers have to be disposed of as electronic waste, cables do not."

      What if the cables have active components in them?

      1. Don Jefe
        Joke

        Re: Yawn

        If your charger has active components in it, I suggest disconnecting mains supply before attempting to dispose of it. Then they won't be active anymore :)

  37. Dave, Portsmouth

    So this is just a way to force everyone onto wireless charging then...?

    If they mandate micro USB then that kills any hope of the recently proposed USB standard being adopted, unless everyone puts two ports on their phones for a few years. Or they mandate a new unproven standard, which doesn't seem ideal. Or they give two or more choices, which kinda defeates the point (there are already effectively only two choices anyway, micro USB or Lightning).

    Like every poorly thought out bit of proposed legislation from the EU, it'll die sometime soon.

  38. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Oh Dear.

    It seems the EU is holding Apple wrong.

  39. DougS Silver badge

    What exactly are these regulations trying to accomplish?

    What difference would it make if you have a charger that takes a cable with standard USB port on end and micro USB on the other, versus the same thing except it has a different connector on the end? Are they really concerned about CABLES going bad? Because they rarely do, it is the part you plug in that goes bad and contributes far more to "e-waste".

    Besides, mandating micro-USB by 2017 is TOTALLY MORONIC because it is being replaced by a new connector (reversible like Lightning) in a year. They might as well mandate PCs sold in 2017 have a PS/2 port while they're at it.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: What exactly are these regulations trying to accomplish?

      The only difference that this will make is to a few political types who will style themselves 'Champions of the Consumer'. Prices of new phones will not be effected, prices of stand alone cables and chargers will go up, and people who travel and don't want to play the EC games will have to carry yet another adaptor as availability of spare non-Micro USB cables/chargers will be reduced.

      So I guess I was wrong, the politicians will still get credit, but consumers will ultimately get screwed, so that's two differences.

  40. Oh_bollocks

    Apple charger is universal already.

    It has already been said in the thread, but the charger is already universal as it has a USB plug on it. I charge my iPhone on a Kindle charger all the time and on my Windows PC through - you know - the USB port.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So all technological improvements in connectors require EU approval on a common standard. What could possibly be the downside. Time to brush up on my RS232.

  42. AlanS
    Holmes

    Personal anecdote of no evidential worth

    I have just been away for two weeks with my phone (HTC1X), my tablet (Nexus7) and my Kindle. My problem wasn't chargers, but wall sockets! I survived by plugging in my laptop (Lenovo 3000 N100: old but v.good screen), then using three USB-to-mUSB cables at once, remembering to insert into the Kindle other-way-up.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Personal anecdote of no evidential worth

      Well, just wait awhile. Some busy body quasi-government agency will be along shortly to make you buy the right thing.

  43. sleepy

    What about the mains side of the charger?

    Shouldn't the EU be standardising the mains plug on the charger? That would be far more useful. The USB plug is already standardised. Yes we'd have to retire our uk homes, but think of the harmony that would follow.

    Apple's lightning connector is clearly superior to micro USB in usability. It's actually Apple's first completely purpose designed dock connector for IOS devices; the old one was simply a transitional hodgepodge of disparate interfaces on the same connector: dual charging systems, FireWire, USB, video and audio. The lightning connector is also a key component in Apple's walled garden management of the third party accessory market, because it has to be licensed. Clearly, a lot of users value this approach, which gives a sort of uniform trustworthiness to accessories.

    A variety of lightning adapters is available, and the same approach is used on the mac with Thunderbolt. For the EU to outlaw Apples product architecture and business model would be moronic. No-one has to buy an Apple product if they don't want to.

  44. a53

    But Apple lightening cables are of shite build quality, they fall apart at the slightest excuse. I've reverted to the old cable with an added adaptor.

  45. Trooper_ID

    The solution

    Inductive charging. No plug needed, therefore no need to conform to a standard plug. That’s what I would do to maintain my uniqueness if I were a leading manufacturer with a ‘premium’ product.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: The solution

      Inductive charging is fine, if you don't mind it being so slow. I guess it has a good role for people who don't work from their phone and can leave their phone charging for extended periods. A couple of the guys here at work use inductive charging for their phone, and even the new, higher output models, are painfully slow. Maybe it'll speed up one day.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: The solution

        My Nokia wireless chargers charge at about 80% efficiency or more. Since my phone lasts all day without a charge anyway, charging fast is hardly an issue.

        The advantage of wireless charging, apart from the obvious lack of fiddling with cables, is that one can just put the phone down, grab charge for whatever period and pick the phone up and go, or not go, as required. Jump in the shower, grab 15 minutes charging.

        This results in a phone almost always charged, for desk types or road warriors at least.

        There is even a portable wireless charging block now for people on the go who don't want to have a cable attached to their phone but still need a boost in a high-use day.

        Once you have it, you despise the cable system.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    micro USB is not the solution

    Micro USB is crap. The cables are crap and the connectors are crap. I've bought expensive and cheap cables and they don't last, and I've had several devices that have had the connector fail. I'm not rough on them, either.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is an "Apple charger"?

    There has NEVER been an Apple proprietary phone charger.

    Apple has shipped standard USB chargers with every iPhone ever. And that's the only logical way of doing things. If Apple permanently affixed a proprietary connector to their chargers, they would also have to include separate data cables with each phone, which would be unnecessary (and costly) waste.

    Now, if somebody wants to say there should be a standard connector on the PHONE for charging, then say that. Don't confuse everybody by talking about "chargers."

  48. Faster Better Greener

    Chargers and plugs. EU regs. So that's sorted then.

    Oh brilliant, an EU spec for a standard charger. Pardon me if I'm not filled with optimism.

    As an EV driver, I see the utter failure of EU plug/charger standardisation efforts on a daily basis. Perfectly good standard developed (Type 2 Mode 3, German leccy tech, so it works). Idiot-proof 7-pin design which cannot be inserted the wrong way up. Data transmission built into the spec alongside the power transmission bit. Intelligent enough to enable the car to tell the charge post what chargerate it can accept, so correct amperage is supplied. In fact it's so good that Tesla have adopted the standard for the Model S in Europe; which has a 7-pin socket on Euro spec cars, as opposed to the 3-pin used in USA.

    But the French and the German put a DIFFERENT plug on the car end. The Swedes haven't fully implanted the data bit. And now the Germans have now decided they'll be using the new CCS standard (essentially TWO plugs, splitting the data and power bits).

    And because Renault and Nissan can't agree (even though they're the same company) we still get Japanese standard connectors on the Leaf, whilst Renault EVs use Euro kit.

    And that's only AC, then there's the whole nonsense with Japan-standard CHAdeMO.

    Grrrrr.......

  49. cambsukguy

    You still use a plug to charge the phone?

    How last year of you.

    You still use a connector to send music to sound systems?

    How last century of you.

    You still need a connector to perform updates?

    Good grief!

    So, all in all, hardly an issue for the future - phone-wise in any case. One would hope wireless charging for lower-end phones will proceed apace.

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