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One continent, one charger: EU makes USB-C mandatory for all mobile phones

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Brussels, Jun 8: The European Union on Tuesday agreed to a universal charging port for mobile phones, tablets and cameras. This will allow the consumers to charge their devices with the same USB charger, regardless of the device brand.

"By autumn 2024, USB Type-C will become the common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets and cameras in the EU," a press release from the Parliament said. It means mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers rechargeable via a wired cable, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices will have a standard cable for all devices.

One continent, one charger: EU makes USB-C mandatory for all mobile phones

The legislation is in a bid to cut back on electronic waste. EU industry chief Thierry Breton said the deal would save around 250 million euros ($267 million) for consumers. "It will also allow new technologies such as wireless charging to emerge and to mature without letting innovation become a source of market fragmentation and consumer inconvenience," Reuters quoted him as saying.

However, it will affect Apple which has its own Lightning connector to charge iPhones. The company, which has warned the proposal would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronic waste, has not responded to the latest development.
It has to be noted that there are over 1 billion iPhones in the world which work on the Lightning port.

"European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics," said the European Parliament's rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba in a press statement.

The decision is part of the Commission's broader action to address the sustainability of products, in particular electronics on the EU market. In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. On an average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, of which they use two on a regular basis.

Despite this, 38 per cent of consumers report having experienced problems at least once that they could not charge their mobile phone because available chargers were incompatible. The situation is not only inconvenient but also costly for consumers, who spend approximately EUR2.4 billion annually on standalone chargers that do not come with electronic devices. In addition, disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to pile up to 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, it added.

Laptops will also have to be adapted to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force. "Consumers will be provided with clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to see whether their existing chargers are compatible. Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device," the press release from the European Parliament said.

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