European Union pushes forward to unify mobile phone chargers

EU might force Apple to ditch Lightning connector in favour of USB

Specifically, the European Union is hoping that this new "impact assessment study" will coax smartphone makers to work together and agree upon a common mobile phone charger, regardless of the device.

"Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options", said Margrethe Vestager from the EU.

The Commission has been trying to get mobile phone companies to use the same charger for almost a decade, citing both customer inconvenience and 51,000 tons of yearly electronic waste from old chargers as the primary reasons.

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"An "impact assessment study" will help the EC decide whether there is a need for action and analyse the impact of various options", according to the report, with Vestager's internal market colleague, Elzbieta Bienkowska, placed in charge of the issue.

It was in 2009 that 14 smartphone manufacturers agreed and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which asked them to use a common mobile charging port for all their models. After this agreement expired in 2012, a new letter of intent was signed by the same companies in 2013 and 2014. Fast forward to 2018, and Apple is using its Lightning port, some are using USB-C, others are still on micro USB, and so on. The Commission claims the situation generates more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste yearly, mostly from old chargers that users dispose of.

The European Commission has been championing a single charging standard for years now, but as any iPhone or Android user can attest, no discernible progress in this area has been made, nor is there reason to believe that handset makers will begin to work together in a meaningful fashion anytime soon. Since most devices use Type-C today, if Apple switched cords, you could bring one cord for all of your devices.

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