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

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

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  1. Vociferous

    Suck it, Apple.

    Everyone else already uses micro-USB.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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

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

            1. AMBxx Silver badge

              Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
                Headmaster

                Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

          2. A J Stiles
            Mushroom

            Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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

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

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

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

        2. David Kelly 2

          Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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

    2. Mike Bell

      Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Mike Bell

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

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

        1. Mike Bell

          Re: @Anonymous Coward

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

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: @Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @Anonymous Coward

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

          3. A J Stiles

            Re: @Anonymous Coward

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

          4. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: @Anonymous Coward @Mike Bell

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

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

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

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

        2. Silver

          Re: @Mike Bell

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

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

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

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

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

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @Mike Bell

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

            1. Mike Bell

              Re: big_D RS232

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

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: big_D RS232

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

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @Mike Bell

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

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

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: @Mike Bell

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

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

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

              Basically, a USB A Female socket denotes 5v.

          3. MacGyver

            USB plugs are in superposition

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

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

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

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Suck it, Apple.

        Glad we've upgraded...

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

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

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

      3. oddie

        Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

      4. 404 Silver badge

        Re: Suck it, Apple. @Mike Bell

        What makes them shitty?

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

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

      5. CmdrX3

        Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Everyone else already uses micro-USB"

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

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

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

    4. Andy Davies

      Re: Suck it, Apple.

      yes but!

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

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

  2. MrDamage

    All part of Apples plan

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

  3. Eguro

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

  4. Fazal Majid

    Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

    2. Vociferous

      Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

      The Apple plug can be cleaned easily.

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: Micro-USB is too flimsy

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

  5. Hillman_Hunter
    Stop

    Well intended but flawed desiscion.

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

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

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

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

    1. andreas koch
      Joke

      @ Hillman_Hunter -

      Clumsy, are we?

      Also:

      > . . .

      Apples lightening connector seems to be

      . . .<

      No wonder, it must weigh less . . .

      SCNR

    2. big_D Silver badge

      @Hillman_Hunter

      Hey, my grandfather used to drive them!

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Hillman_Hunter

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

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

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

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

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

    4. M Gale

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

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

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

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

    5. Oninoshiko
      WTF?

      You're doing it wrong

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

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

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    And for non-compliance...

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

  7. frank ly Silver badge
    Coat

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

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

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

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

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

  8. Andrew Yeomans

    What happened to wireless charging?

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

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: What happened to wireless charging?

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

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

      Steven R

      1. Eguro
        Thumb Up

        Re: What happened to wireless charging?

        We'll finally be where Tesla envisioned. Homes charged with electricity - though his idea was that it'd provide recuperation so that we wouldn't have to go to the seaside once a year.

        http://www.teslacollection.com/tesla_articles/1912/popular_electricity_magazine/e_leslie_gilliams/tesla_s_plan_of_electrically_treating_school_children

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: What happened to wireless charging?

      The wireless charger isn't. It's a large awkward pad with a cable to PSU.

      It's as wireless as Cordless Kettle. Which is strictly a docking kettle.

      Why can't they all put USB and earphone so the phone can sit in a cradle like my DECT or my ancient Handheld 2 way radio?

  9. John Robson Silver badge

    What was wrong with barrel connectors? robust and "any way round" meant just that...

    1. localzuk

      They don't handle data. And having them means having 2 connectors, which affects the internals of a phone quite considerably - ie. the phones become larger to support more connectors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can easily put data and power down the same line. It's done all the time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can run networking over your house mains wiring, why not serial data over the barrel plug -now that would be innovative, pity there's no fledgling companies who have already done it for apple to buy.

        1. Mage Silver badge
          Devil

          Networking over house wiring...

          Actually those are really illegal transmitters. They 99% just use the local part of wire as an aerial! They pass CE by only plugging in one or not connecting data. They are two way 1 to 30MHz or 1MHz to 200MHz radio systems.

          The are also about x50 cost of a USB connector!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      From personal experience I'd say that the barrel connectors were too susceptible to physical damage both of the plug being bent and more serious of the socket.

      My personal preference would be for a connector that supports abrupt movement without damage (connection breaks rather than a component) such as the old Ericsson connectors or the mag-safe stuff from Apple. Connectors should be either reversible (mini euro) or obviously usable in one orientation (British mains plug).

  10. Julian Bond

    Charging from this device is not supported

    Will this deal with the problem where a perfectly good USB cable or USB port/charger doesn't work because "Charging from this device is not supported"? Even on Nokia phones with a nominal 5v charger this seems to be a problem because their phones expect a charger putting out 6.1v. Then there's the progressive corruption of the USB standard to support a whole range of high current support depending on either various voltages on the data pins or a data handshake. Can we please make this stuff "just work".

  11. Dirk Munk

    Officially USB is still rated for a maximum charge current of 500 mA. That is far too low for charging the big batteries of modern smart phones, and that is one of the problems the manufacturers have with micro USB. Has this problem been resolved, has or will the USB standard been revised for more charge current up to let's say 2.5A?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      USB-C does that

      But it doesn't use the micro USB connector. EU standards fail.

    2. localzuk

      You're a few years behind. The USB Battery Charging Specification Revision 1.2 allows for 5A. However, that doesn't affect standard downstream ports which are limited to 150mA (USB1), 500mA (USB2), 900mA (USB3.0) or 2A-5A at 5/12/20V (USB3.1).

      The USB-C connector is a connector, not a standard, so it doesn't define currents and voltages.

    3. Jonathan Hogg

      Yes. It's called a Charging Downstream Port and has been in the USB spec for a couple of years now. Newer devices like the iPhone 5 onwards support it and negotiate a higher current draw while in data mode. I don't know what support is like for other manufacturers. I also don't know how many actual USB ports support this version of the standard.

      Chargers are simpler: the USB spec allows for high current (up to about 1.5A I think, but I'd have to check the spec) whenever the D+ and D- pins are detected to be a short. Pretty much all USB chargers for a number of years have done this; although Samsung have now taken to using voltage dividers again for their super-high-power chargers (~2.5A I believe), which is the trick that Apple has used for years to support high current.

      Micro-USB is still a pile of shit, though. The connectors - particularly inside the devices - are very flimsy and not sufficiently directional to avoid people attempting to jam them in upside down and damaging the cable and/or device. Working in the business of mobile phone charging I can assure you that - trying not to sound like a fanboi - the Lightning design really is orders of magnitude more robust, so it's good news to see the USB forum rethinking the design of the USB connector, though bad news for everyone that's going to have to get new cables.

      What I don't understand is why the rules would specify a micro-USB port on the device, when the simple and smart thing would be to require a standard USB type-A port on the charger. Then you can plug whatever the right cable is into it.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Except the A plug is diverging, too, with USB 3.0. What's to stop that plug changing in future also?

    4. M Gale

      Not quite sure, but I think there's something in the standard about two modes of operation. The normal mode for USB 1.1/2 is 500mA. Or, the charger can pull both data pins to ground, and that's interpreted in the device as "this charger will give you as much juice as it can without dropping the voltage."

      Of course, people throwing 15V across the USB cable in response to some oddball data handshake are another matter.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The apple i connect thing is actually way better than micro USB.

    I imagine most of you droid fans or apple haters will not like this but if you actually looked at the apple connector - i mean the new one not the old monster they used to use, it is actually a very nicely designed connector. It is way more robust, for example, than the micro usb, which in my opinion, though ok, is not very robust and a little too delicate.

    Unless they come up with a better standard for micro USB, I would make everyone use the apple thingy, as it is just a nice piece of design and engineering. Apple should do the right thing and let anyone use it for free (if they designed it).

    USB after USB 2, is pretty pants. the USB 3 devices have an adaptor which seems to be designed to screw up plus the radio interference is something that really should been have accounted for - - to stop my Bluetooth KB from disconnecting I have to have my usb 3 devices on the other side of the desk. Just stupidity really.

    I don't have connection issues with radio interference when using my thunderpants devices (lacie SSD drives).

  13. Frankee Llonnygog

    Obligatory kickstarter

    Mamod desktop steam engine coupled to a generator with a micro USB plug. Sounds a mini steam whistle when your device is charged.

  14. oddie

    Which is better...

    I think from an engineering aspect the apple lightning connector is better than micro USB. However it seems to only be on apple devices, and only recent ones.

    From from a practical point of view I have many devices with USB ports on them (for power and sometimes for data), many micro USB cables, and many devices from different manufacturers who all support micro USB both for charging and for transfer of data.

    One day I am sure the standard for charging in the EU will change from micro USB to > the next thing agreed on. Until then 'most' of the wallplugs/usb A connectors in my house will connect through standard micro USB cables into 'most' devices. The only real exceptions is my partners old ipod which uses the apple 30 pin connector, her iphone which uses a lightning connector and my ipod shuffle which uses jack2USB.

    MicroUSB compatability means that my old blackberry charger happily charges my android phone, as does the charger that came with the phone, the usb micro cable that I have in work, etc.

    I will entertain the lightning connector when it becomes standard across the majority of devices and suppliers/brands.. until then i'll stick with microUSB or whatever comes after it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which is better...

      > One day I am sure the standard for charging in the EU will change from micro USB to the next thing agreed on.

      Something to keep in mind, by mandating a specific connector technology, the EU is shutting out the EU market to newer connector technology. The EU is a huge market for technology, and this will give connector vendors significantly less incentive to develop improvements to the technology.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deja Vu

    IIRC this has be sorted already:

    http://www.electronista.com/articles/09/02/17/universal.phone.chargers/

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Deja Vu

      It was voluntary up until now. All manufacturers except Apple followed the recommendation, but since Apple kept coming up with new proprietary plugs the commission decided to make things binding. Proprietary chargers is a very profitable business, and the commission didn't want Apple to benefit from flouting commission recommendations everyone else was following.

      1. Silver

        Re: Deja Vu

        All manufacturers except Apple followed the recommendation, but since Apple kept coming up with new proprietary plugs the commission decided to make things binding.

        In the past eleven years Apple have switched connectors once - from the 30-pin connector to the lightening connector.

        In comparison, most of the other manufacturers have switched twice - going from proprietary to mini-USB and then to micro-USB.

        So in what world was it that Apple "kept coming up with new proprietary plugs"?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Deja Vu

          >most of the other manufacturers have switched twice

          At least!

          The problem, as various people noted, was the draw full of chargers each with a different adaptor but only minor differences in output levels that people accumulated to handle all their various and changing devices (specifically mobile phones). Apple was a relatively late comer to the party, but because practically everyone else had agreed a standard was necessary and there was a growing consensus around micro-USB, Apple are seen to be out of step.

          The challenge moving forward is trying to do more with less. for simple devices such as phones a combined USB and charging port may be sufficient, but if you are wanting to offer richer connectivity the options are either: add additional discrete physical ports or do as Apple have done and combine everything into a single super physical port. As far as I can see there are pro's and con's associated with both approaches.

      2. Ivan Headache

        Re: Deja Vu

        Except that Apple doesn't have a proprietry charger. It's charger will charge every make of phone.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patent

    Apple will patent the micro USB and ban every other manufacturer using it, thus they will become the only supplier of mobile phones in Europe.

    1. helicoil

      Re: Patent

      ...thus they will become the only supplier of mobile phones in Europe.

      Ahhhh, the silence would be bliss.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patent

      Thing is, they can't. It's ALREADY patented to a Taiwanese firm. I believe the company involved is part of the USB-IF meaning there's a sharing agreement already in place. And since Apple owns the Lightning connector and doesn't believe in sharing (even during the Docking Connector days, they'd keep changing the specs to break third-party solutions).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Patent

        I think you may have missed the irony.

  17. Lamont Cranston
    Unhappy

    I'm sure this was relevant when the EU started debating it,

    but pretty much everything has Micro-USB, now. Just my luck that most of my devices date from a few years previous, and have Mini-USB.

  18. David Paul Morgan
    Facepalm

    This is a great idea

    ... and for charging, maverick manufacturers only need to include a simple adapter.

    Since microUSB, I have the things everywhere.

    2 in the car, 2 near the TV, 2 either side of the sofa (his & his) & 2 in the bedroom.

    However, I have discovered that certain chargers will not allow the charging of later Xperia devices. Inexpensive or more main line manufacturers.

    It's not the cables, as you can swap 'official' and 'unofficial' cables to the sony charger and they work, as does PC charging, but one of my car-socket chargers (moulded microUSB) and 2 of my usb-battery packs (one cheap/cheerful, one solar-panel top-of range) will only charge our Xperia S, but not the T or the Z1-compacts. I tried to find the web reference, but cannot...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is a great idea

      Probably not enough ampage from the chargers that don't charge yout Xperia T or Z1.

      I had 500 mA charger with Galaxy S, worked fine, wouldn't charge Galaxy S3 though.

      Bought a (supposed) 1000 mA one & it does the job.

      As usual, if buying cheap unbranded chargers, take output rating with a pinch of salt.

  19. Salts

    Older Eyes

    I have the following

    iPad 2 - old type connector

    iPhone 5 - new type connector

    eReader - micro USB

    The iPhone 5 is by far the easiest to plug a charger into now that the lamp oil in the eyes is getting a bit low, may not seem like much to people with young eyes, but wait until your lamp oil starts to wane.

    However when I travel I only have one charger the Apple one, it is small but gives enough current to charge any of my required mobile devices, I just need to carry 3 different cables, it would be easier with just one cable, but not by a great amount. With that in mind a better euro directive would have been that all chargers have a USB A socket, then mobile devices manufacturers could move to any plug they wish without the charger itself becoming a throw away item.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about user replaceable batteries being mandated too?

    That is all.

  21. phuzz Silver badge
    Facepalm

    There is a slight downside to having a single charger for everything.

    It used to be, I'd have the separate charger for my phone and my mp3 player both plugged in, so I could charge both at the same time.

    Now I just have one microUSB by my bed, which has to time share between a phone, a tablet and a couple of e-readers.

    And if you think a micro USB connector is tricky to plug in, you should try plugging in a SCART cable when you can only reach the socket by lying on your back and jamming your hand behind a massive old telly....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Whatever happened to a multiple-port USB charging base that plugs into the mains and then you use both cables to charge both devices at once?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Whatever happened to a multiple-port USB charging base...

        They do exist, but do cost...

        You can get cheap USB hubs that sit on the back of a mains plug and are intended for charging from Maplin et al, however the problems I've encountered with these are:

        1. Not all mobile phones recognise them - I have particular problems with Samsung, but the Nokia sometimes objects - never had a problem with the HTC & Hudl.

        2. Few actually deliver full spec. charging capability to all ports, so effectively you can still only charge one device at a time...

        So if any one knows of a 4-port USB hub that sits on the back of a mains plug and can concurrently charge 4 iPad's etc. ....

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Whatever happened to a multiple-port USB charging base...

          So if any one knows of a 4-port USB hub that sits on the back of a mains plug and can concurrently charge 4 iPad's etc. ....

          Don't think you can do that just yet. Power limitations. 2A@5V = 10W of power, and that's pretty much the standard for charging tablets and high-end phones (including those from Apple). Multiply that by 4 and you're likely getting into power ranges better suited for bulky dedicated bricks rather than svelte inline adapters. I'm suspecting 15W is about as much as they dare for an inline: enough for a 2A and a 1A port.

          1. Not all mobile phones recognise them - I have particular problems with Samsung, but the Nokia sometimes objects - never had a problem with the HTC & Hudl.

          I see that once in a while with my S4. I've come to realize it stops recognizing a charger if it's underpowered: that is, it doesn't feed it enough juice to outpace its drain.

          The "cheapest" multi-port USB-A-Female charger which can charge anything I throw it at is the Cambironix Series8 - Which is a 350$ piece of kit.

          No bloody wonder. 8 ports able to deliver a full 12W per port (2.4A@5V)...thing's built like a brick (as it should given its total power draw of ~100W) and full of air vents (to draw away the heat losses from all that power conversion).

      2. karlp

        I just went through this last week.

        The simple answer is unless you are doing 6 or more chargers, the cheapest thing to do is buy a power strip and plug in a whole bunch of individual chargers, and deal with the Ugly that it causes.

        It seems crazy to me, but it is what it is.

        The "cheapest" multi-port USB-A-Female charger which can charge anything I throw it at is the Cambironix Series8 - Which is a 350$ piece of kit. http://www.cambrionix.com/cambrionix_products/series8-very-intelligent-charging/

        On the other hand, I can say the same for the 30$ Apple iPad charger, so I am "forced" to use those right now for my less than 6 charge port solutions.

        I really don't understand it. I can (and do) buy top-of-the-line Medical Grade 5-thru-12V transformers up to 150W every day. For less than 75$ as an assembled, ready-to-go, listed product. Certainly someone can figure out how to make the rest of the bits for ~100$

        Karl P

  22. Alex Bailey

    Remember SCART?

    Seriously folks? Let the EU legislate on this and it effectively stops phone manufacturers coming up with something new and good that might not work on the standardised port. If legislating connector types in this manner did any good then why did SCART never take off in North America?

    So long as the other end fits into a standard USB socket I couldn't care less what shape hole I have to use to plug it into my phone. I made the choice to buy a phone with a "non standard" socket so that's my problem not yours.

    I like the EU... if it doesn't keep interfering in places where it's not needed.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Remember SCART?

      If legislating connector types in this manner did any good then why did SCART never take off in North America?

      I guess an unhealthy dose of "Not Invented Here". That and the EU is not the USA. SCART worked incredibly well for what it was meant for, which was basically connecting your different tellyboxes to/from the telly. A lot better than expecting everyone to plug red/white/yellow leads in the right way, and heaps better than RF modulators into the antenna socket.

      It was basically HDMI before HDMI, and without the nasty HDCP crud.

  23. clavileno

    I've been plugging bits of kit in for most of my life: scientific equipment, industrial machines, theatrical lighting set-ups, computers, and all manner of other devices, over 4 decades.

    The Apple Lightning connector is by far the best thing I've come across in that time for any sort of consumer device. It is well-engineered, reversible, robust, will pull-out in extremis, and can be cleaned without readily damaging the pins.

    Apple's cables, on the other hand, are not so wonderful, as they insist on eschewing other designers' more sophisticated approaches to strain relief, but a little bit of Hellerman sleeving works wonders there...

    Micro USB, on the other hand, is frightful; my wife and I have bought at least a dozen new cables in the last 12 months due to failure of the micro usb plug. Any device which has to be used whilst charging is at-risk of poor connection. I'm constantly staggered by the number of handheld devices with charging ports at the side, such that gravity alone (acting on a cantilever) drags the cable free. It is an unholy mess of a poor standard implemented poorly.

    This is a very sad day.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Be fortunate it's the plug that breaks. That was part of the USB Micro design (that most of the wear and tear, like the springs, should occur at the easily-replaceable plug, not the socket that's usually built into the very-expensive phone/tablet, like it was in USB Mini).

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