Universal charger tantalisingly close for mobiles

Feb 29, 2012 by Katell Abiven
A man displays an universal charger plugged on a Sony mobile phone during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress on Tuesday in Barcelona. Mobile phone users are tantalisingly close to the day when they can power up any phone with the same charger, but industry players gathered at the the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona still have some way to go.

Mobile phone users are tantalisingly close to the day when they can power up any phone with the same charger.

But industry players gathered at the the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona still have some way to go.

Three years ago, 17 manufacturers and operators agreed at this same conference to share the same standard for chargers fitting into a micro-USB socket.

The relatively modest goal, defined by the global industry's GSM Association, was that most mobile phones sold in 2012 should be compatible with the new universal charger.

Despite European Union pressure on the industry to ensure all phones share the same type of charger and thus avoid hassle for users and vast amounts of unnecessary waste, results have been mixed.

"It has been announced so many times and the customers are still waiting for it," sighed Flavio Cuchietti, one of the project's supervisers at the UN agency, the .

"It has been clearly aimed at smartphones, which account for about 25-30 percent of the market in Europe. Then what about the other 70 percent, and what about the Third World?" he asked.

The ITU in 2011 asked all manufacturers to share the same mobile phone charger by 2014.

Last year, a study by the University of Genoa researchers found 10 different charger models among the eight major market players.

"Our intention is not to punish an industry or to block their development. Our intention is to find a solution that is viable, adding extra complexity and extra cost, but in the end we get to a universal solution," Cuchietti said.

The result is also less waste, he said, estimating that more than 100,000 tonnes of chargers were discarded every year by consumers when they bought new phones.

But despite uneven progress, manufacturers say they are optimistic.

Samsung and Sony Mobile say all their models now use the universal micro-USB charger while Nokia estimates that about 70 percent of mobiles sold in the second half of 2011 were compatible with the new standard.

ITU secretary general Hamadoun Touri said the universal charger provided practical benefits for the customer. For example, people who forget their chargers when travelling would easily find a spare.

"I would like to see this technology extended across the world so that when you buy a new telephone that charger is just an option," Touri said.

But that would require manufacturers to take another bold step.

"Consumer expectation is to have a charger included with the sales package," said Peter Harrison, in charge of regulatory standards at the Finnish phone maker Nokia.

"We are now in a transition period," he said.

Bertrand Villie, in charge of sustainable development at Sony Mobile France, said manufacturers were reluctant to stop selling the charger along with the phone unless everyone agreed to do so at the same time.

"We cannot decide on our own to sell our products without a charger; if we did that no-one would buy Sony Mobile!" he said. "Even so, the mobile phone industry is the only one in the world that has agreed on a universal charger."

Explore further: Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NTT Docomo's new smartphone features wireless charger

May 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Charging your cell phone can be a hassle, mostly because you have to find your cord, and if you are anything like most people, you don't have just one charging cord lying around your house. ...

Recommended for you

Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

Sony's PlayStation 4 sales top seven million

Apr 17, 2014

Sony says it has sold seven million PlayStation 4 worldwide since its launch last year and admitted it can't make them fast enough, in a welcome change of fortune for the Japanese consumer electronics giant.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

a_n_k_u_r
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
Really, what's so hard about agreeing on a common charger standard? In fact, the industry should ensure that they have common standards for wireless power chargers, and the same chargers should work with laptops and tablets too.

I have a question about using USB port for charging -- can my phone be hacked through power line?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012
Really, what's so hard about agreeing on a common charger standard?

The problem is not agreeing on one. The problem is that if they did agree on one (and actually stuck to it) then only the maker of the cheapest charger would make a profit (all others would not sell a single charger).

Especially for companies like Apple that would be catastrophic, as they charge you for 'style' rather than for the content of their product (they have over 60% pure profit on some of their products).
roboferret
not rated yet Mar 01, 2012


I have a question about using USB port for charging -- can my phone be hacked through power line?


No, the AC mains power supply voltage is reduced, rectified and smoothed into a low voltage continuous direct current. Any data signal would be wiped out by the adapter before it even entered the USB cable. Charging from your PC could be a different story if your PC security is compromised. Still extremely unlikely though.
a_n_k_u_r
not rated yet Mar 02, 2012

No, the AC mains power supply voltage is reduced, rectified and smoothed into a low voltage continuous direct current. Any data signal would be wiped out by the adapter before it even entered the USB cable.

Well, USB is primarily a data bus and reaches deep into the data connections of the phone unlike the existing charging points in the phones. I can imagine rogue chargers that can infect the devices.
Kinedryl
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2012
The universal charger is disadvantageous for manufacturers of mobile phones, because its market can increase the profit significantly due the vendor locking. As a part of "accessories" the price of new charger is often comparable to the price of the whole phone. Which is why we haven't the universal chargers already.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...