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EU Set to See Single Charging Interface for All Cell Phones, Apple On Board

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In a surprising move, Apple (s aapl) has signed on with a handful of other major mobile device manufacturers to end the madness of proprietary charging interfaces and agreed to one standard for all, according to Reuters. That’s in Europe, anyway, although there’s hope that the agreement could result in more cross-compatibility on this side of the Atlantic, too.

Along with Apple, five other cell phone manufacturers have agreed to the deal put forward by the European Commission, which is not binding and instead depends on voluntary cooperation from the private sector. The other five companies are Sony Ericsson (s sne), Nokia (s nok), Research In Motion (s rimm), Motorola (s mot) and Samsung, which means that Apple basically had to toe the line or risk looking like the villain in a field of heroes. Hopefully no one breaks rank, since that could result in the agreement becoming insubstantial.

The agreed-upon standard is micro-USB, which is already fairly ubiquitous, so it will be a huge bonus for consumers if this goes through as planned. I’ve got about four or five micro-USB cables lying around within eyeshot, in fact. Devices from companies that agree to the standard will have to ship with a charger that matches the specifications put forward by the commission, though eventually the two will be allowed to be sold separately. The time frame for implementation of the new standard is said to be within 3-4 years, and the hope is that by adopting a single charger, people will have less cause to throw out their old ones when they purchase a new phone.

For Apple, the agreement will lead to the inclusion of an adapter rather than the abandonment of the dock connector standard they’ve so consistently championed. An Apple spokesperson said in a statement following the deal’s announcement that it’ll ship future iPhones with a dock-connectable micro-USB adapter, which is completely in compliance with the specifics of the new agreement.

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13 Responses to “EU Set to See Single Charging Interface for All Cell Phones, Apple On Board”

  1. Benoit

    Useless if the electrical spec of those chargers is also agreed upon. A plug will do no good if it delivers the wrong power. Can’t find anyone addressing this. Anybody confirms that this is also part of the EU spec? What is that spec?

  2. A dock-connectable micro-USB adapter is required? What’s the point of using the standard if you still need a proprietary adaptor to attach the standard cable to the phone? That’s stupid. It’s easier to just use a dock cable.

  3. This comment is apparently useless since my fellow readers are entirely correct in pointing out the authors mistakes in the differences between micro and mini… Please research your material before writing an article about it! You just make yourself look ignorant…

  4. The others are right, mini USB isn’t micro USB. The former is probably what you have around the house. The latter dates from 2007 and isn’t that much smaller (just thinner), but as the wikipedia article you link to notes, it was designed to handle thousands of connect/disconnect cycles. It’s better, but we have to wade through yet one more standards nuisance to get there.

  5. Ian patterson

    Your photo is wrong as are your comments on having these lying around. What you show and have is mini USB, not micro.
    Please revise your article.

  6. Americans are so proud to be different. That’s why we don’t use the metric system, we use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, we play American football, and we also have smaller pint glasses than in England (which is strange considering we have such a fascination with having “bigger” things than everyone else). So screw your universal standards EU! America is the maverick of the world!

  7. Chris Ryan

    Hey Darrell

    I could be completely off base about this, but the standard is micro USB. The cables you’re thinking of with use on hard drives and digital cameras are mini USB. So it means that everybody will have to have different cables or adapters. Woo hoo for standards.