EU Commission proposes removing chargers from all smartphone boxes

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A new press release from the European Commission sets out legislation by the European Commission to standardize the charging socket across all consumer equipment. It also plans to “harmonize” a fast charging standard and “separate the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices”. This proposal applies to “smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld video game consoles.”

The Commission is officially proposing four things:

  • A harmonized charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port.
  • Harmonized fast charging technology: helps prevent different manufacturers from unjustifiably limiting the charging speed and helps ensure that the charging speed is the same when using a compatible charger for a device.
  • Separation of the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: The Commission says that consumers in the EU already have on average three chargers and will only use two.
  • Improved information for consumers: OEMs must provide information about charging speeds and whether the device supports fast charging.

According to the European Commission, European consumers spend € 2.4 billion a year on self-charged chargers that do not come with devices. An estimated 11,000 tonnes of e-waste each year consists of disposed / unused chargers. The European Commission hopes that the proposed legislation could potentially save consumers € 250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

Fast charging standardization is interesting. Many Chinese phone manufacturers all use different fast charging standards to compete with each other, but most support some form of USB-C Power Delivery fast charging. So OEMs had to provide fast charging information so that they were informed about what charging speeds they can expect from the charger they already have at home.

iPhone 12 Pro with included Lightning for USB-C cable

The proposed legislation will affect Apple the most. They had to switch from Lightning to USB-C. There have been rumors for years that Apple would make this switch, and although Apple’s MacBook and iPad have already switched to USB-C, its two most popular product lines: the iPhone and AirPods continue to use the Lightning cable. This would hurt Apple’s sales of chargers and cables, so Apple will not give in without a fight.

Nevertheless, the proposed legislation still needs to be approved under the ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision): it has to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Once (and if) the legislation is approved, OEMs will have a transition period of 24 months to transition to the new EU laws.


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