One charger for all | The financial express

By Shubhangi Shah

Look in your bag and see how many magazines you have. One for the smartphone, another for the tablet, another for the laptop, and if you have portable devices as well, you might find yourself falling prey to charger misfortune. Not just wearing them and untangling them later, the mere realization of forgetting even one can cause panic. When thrown away, they also accumulate as electronic waste. Luckily, with a lot of chatter surrounding the universal charger, we might be heading towards a remedy.

India’s story

Following a meeting chaired by India’s consumer secretary, the government announced that expert committees would be set up to explore the adoption of common chargers for phones and other portable electronics, according to news reports. Separate committees will be set up to study the issue for different categories of devices, namely: mobile and multifunction phones, tablets and laptops, and portable devices. They will submit the reports within two months.

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This development is in line with a recent report, which found that 78% of consumers, who were part of a study, said that all phones and tablets should have the same USB charging cable across all companies. Additionally, seven out of 10 Indians believe that phones have different charging cables because it allows manufacturers to maximize the sale of accessories in the absence of government regulation, according to data from LocalCircles, a media platform. social community, said a report.

European history

In a move welcomed by many, the European Commission earlier this year adopted a resolution mandating the use of USB-C, a single charging standard, for all mobile phones and other devices in EU countries. European Union (EU) from autumn 2024. . Simply put, this will allow users to charge most of their devices with a single charger, USB-C in this case, across brands. It does not stop there and offers chargers to unbundle devices during the sale. This will obviously reduce the number of unwanted and unused chargers. Naturally, the rule does not apply to wireless charging.

The EU says users in the region own an average of three chargers each, of which they only use two regularly. Despite this, 38% are facing charging issues due to different ports. Plus, they end up spending around $2.4 billion a year on standalone chargers. Additionally, those that are discarded or unused end up amounting to 1,000 tons of e-waste per year.
In short, a universal charger will not only help solve users’ charging problems, but also the e-waste problem.

Apple in a solution?

While several mobile phone manufacturers have switched to USB-C charging ports, the one that will be affected by the EU directive is Apple. The Cupertino-based giant uses a Lightning cable for its devices, which is more expensive than other charging cables. Comparatively, USB-C chargers are larger than Lightning connectors but faster for charging and data transfer.

Apple is expected to launch its iPhone14 lineup on September 7. It could come with Lightning cable charging, according to reports.
If you follow the EU resolution, this could be the last line of iPhones with a Lightning connector. Although the company may offer another line of iPhones in 2023, a Lightning cable for them and the switch to USB-C next year doesn’t seem feasible. Additionally, according to Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with the issue, the tech giant is testing replacing the current Lightning charging port with USB-C for its future iPhone models. Several of its iPads and Macs already use the latter.

The Indian Question

Some of the most used mobile phones i.e. those from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo and Oppo are already using Type-C charging port. Not only that, several laptop brands have also switched to Type-C. However, several entry-level phones, feature phones, smartphones, wearables, etc. always use the micro-USB charging cable. Not only that, many Indians are also using low-cost phones with non-USB-C charging ports, so switching to a universal type can increase the cost, becoming a financial burden for many.

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It should be noted here that India has not commented on what type of charging port it will switch to if it decides to go ahead.

However, given that the EU has made a firm move towards USB-C, it only seems possible for phone makers to introduce it in other jurisdictions as well.

Another problem

Tackling e-waste in addition to solving users’ charging problems seems like a good proposition. However, has the EU thought about how it will tackle the huge amount of e-waste generated once it switches to USB-C, given that a large number of chargers will then be discarded?

Along with different types of charging cables, some phone manufacturers have also opted to go completely wireless. Although slower than wired charging, it eliminates all the mess of cables and also helps solve the electronic waste problem. However, it still seems quite far from widespread adoption.

Until then, given recent developments, it looks like USB-C is the future of mobile device charging.

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