EU Inches Closer to USB-C Standardization for Chargers
According to Android Authority, the EU first hinted at a standardized charging interface for smartphones and tablets, with Members of the European Parliament for the Internal Market and Consumer Product Committee voting 43-2 to include laptops, handheld gaming consoles, cameras and more.
Some of those products already use USB-C, like newer Apple laptops and the Nintendo Switch.
But it's still possible to purchase smartphone chargers with USB-A or Micro-USB plugs. Apple in particular uses both the USB-C and its proprietary Lightning plug.
Part of the goal to standardize the charging interface is to limit waste, as it would decrease the need for customers to purchase multiple chargers.
"With half a billion chargers for portable devices shipped to Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tons of e-waste, a single charger for mobile phones and other small and medium electronic devices would benefit everyone," Agius Saliba, a Maltese Member of European Parliament, said.
A statement from the European Parliament said that the mandate "would make sure consumers no longer need a new charger and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one charger for all of their small and medium-sized electronic gadgets. Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, rechargeable via a wired cable, would have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of the manufacturer."
In an additional paragraph seemingly aimed at Apple, which has insisted on continuing to use the Lightning cable and making things difficult for charger manufacturers, the European Parliament said that "the goal is to avoid a new fragmentation in the market, to continue to reduce environmental waste, ensure consumer convenience and avoid so-called 'lock-in' effects created by proprietary charging solutions."
This has no bearing on the U.S. market, which is still the Wild West when it comes to charging cables. But, if it becomes a standard for European markets, manufacturers might choose to just adopt USB-C globally. There's also the chance that the U.S. sees Europe achieve success with limiting waste as a result of the standardization and follows suit.