Common Charger for Mobile Phones

EU Universal Phone Connecterr

Photo G. Waghorn

The Universal Mobile Charger

  • Did you ever have a problem finding a mobile charger when your phone was flat ?
  • None of your work colleagues had a compatible charger ?
  • Have you got a drawer full of old chargers that are completely useless ?

If you’ve bought a new mobile since 2011, you’ve probably noticed that you can use the charger with almost any other mobile phone.

The new micro-USB plug was the result of the European Commission persuading fourteen of the leading phone manufacturers to standardize the mobile phone connectors in all 27 European Union Member states. The new plug now means that the telephone can be connected to and charged from any computer or other USB device.

Electronic Waste

Not only was the incompatibility of phone chargers inconvenient, it also added to the more than 50,000 tonnes of electronic waste produced each year within the European Community. This will this mean that the consumer will no longer be left with an obsolete charger to dispose of when they change the phone but will also save them from buying a charger with every phone.

Apple Phones

In spite of the fact that the majority of phones now have micro-USB cables, Apple is one of the few exceptions. Having previously signed up to a voluntary agreement, it has recently changed to its Lightning connector. Even though Apple does produce a Lightning /micro-USB cable it will probably have to find another way of complying with EU law if it wants to continue selling mobile phones in Europe.

Mobile Chargers
Photo G. Waghorn

Design problems and waste savings

One of the problems with the micro-USB plug is that manufacturers may be obliged to design products with a connector that may not stand the test of time, especially concerning future data transfer speeds. Also, the expected electronic waste saving has not yet happened as manufacturers continue to slip a charger into every box. The current environmental gain…zero.

Further information :

….and a rather cryptic clip from the EU’s You Tube site :

More information on the EU’s One charger for all – Let’s plug website

More articles :

From Wired magazine : Mobile phone chargers to be standardised under EU law

From European Parliaments news website : Common charger for all mobile phones on the way

Graham Waghorn 15/02/2014

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