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Phones, tablets, computers… Five questions about the universal charger that will soon be mandatory in the European Union

Phones, tablets, computers… Five questions about the universal charger that will soon be mandatory in the European Union
Written by madishthestylebar

“Do you have a charger for iPhone? No, sorry, only for Samsung…” This exchange should soon no longer exist in Europe. And for good reason, the European Union will impose from the fall of 2024 a universal wired charger for smartphones, tablets, consoles and digital cameras. Apple-branded products are also affected. Franceinfo answers five questions about this little revolution coming to your closets.

1When will this charger be mandatory?

By fall 2024, all mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, portable video game consoles and portable speakers will have to be equipped with a single charger.

Laptops will be subject to the same single-charger requirement by spring 2026, according to the political agreement reached on Tuesday (June 7). This text will be formally approved after the summer by the European Parliament and the European Council, the body representing the States.

2What will it look like?

Surely you already know it. The single device chosen by the European Union is none other than the USB-C charger which already equips many devices. No, not the big rectangular plug that you always plug in the wrong way (USB type A), nor its thin and still non-reversible version (micro-USB), but its recent version (type C), smaller and reversible thanks to to its oblong shape.

USB-C, Lightning and micro-USB type chargers.  (DPA / AFP)

That’s not all. The text also provides for the charging speed to be harmonized for devices authorizing fast charging, in order to prevent it from being restricted when using a charger of a different brand. Finally, labeling will be improved to better inform consumers, who will be able to buy a device with or without a charger.

3What about wireless chargers?

While this universal wired charger should be generalized in autumn 2024, some manufacturers are already a step ahead. More and more electronic devices allow wireless charging, via an induction charger. The European Union is well aware of the subject and theThe text also paves the way for future standardization of wireless charging technologies.

Thus, as wireless technology spreads, the Commission will be empowered to develop “delegated acts on the interoperability of charging solutions”that is to say regulations that can be applied directly without being subject to a vote in the European Council or the European Parliament.

4Even Apple will have to comply?

Yes, this time Apple will not be able to play solo. The American manufacturer will have to abandon its famous Lightning charger, introduced in 2012. Apple had until then always refused to use an open and standardized solution such as micro-USB or USB-C, but favored its “proprietary” formats, no -compatible with other brands of electronic devices.

Despite this, the iPhone with a USB-C port may well… never exist. How ? Simply by removing the wired charger from the smartphone. For several years, Apple has been relying more and more on wireless (or induction) chargers, like the Magsafe sold (at an additional cost) with the new iPhones. This wireless technology could well become the only way to recharge Apple products, according to an expert quoted by Numerama.

5What is the point of this bond?

The objective is twofold for the European Union: to simplify the lives of users and to limit the environmental impact of these devices. “Consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable each time they buy a new device, they will be able to use one charger for all their small and medium-sized electronic devices”eliminating unnecessary accessories, explains the Parliament.

This regulation could allow European consumers, who spend 2.4 billion euros a year on purchases of chargers alone, to save at least 250 million euros annually, according to the European Commission. Unused magazine waste, estimated at 11,000 tonnes per year, could be reduced by almost 1,000 tonnes.

Politically, this measure seems to be unanimous. “Charging systems locked consumers into a brand and forced us to accumulate cables at the cost of our wallets and natural resources”, welcomes the Green MEP David Cormand. Geoffroy Didier, his counterpart from European People’s Party (ranked in right), salute the “voluntarism” of the EU in the face of “indecent waste dictated by the commercial interests of a few industrial groups”.

Who opposes it?

These new rules do not please everyone. And in the first place, Apple. The American manufacturer claims that its Lightning charger equips more than a billion devices worldwide and estimates that the European text “will stifle innovation” and will cut off the EU from the rest of the world due to standards “obsolete”. USB-C technology could indeed be quickly outdated, like the micro-USB port provided for in the first version of the European project. What worry some manufacturers. By disqualifying some of the chargers and smartphones in circulation, Brussels “will impose significant losses on manufacturers, reduce consumer choice and generate e-waste” additional, Apple insisted on Tuesday.



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