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Cellphones Government Handhelds IT

Micro-USB Cellphone Charger Becomes EU Standard 302

Posted by timothy
from the wish-they-seemed-stronger dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The European Commission has put into effect a June 2009 agreement stating that major cellphone manufacturers should standardize their charging/data connection ports to the popular Micro-USB format. CEN-CENELEC and ETSI provided the standards by which these 14 companies will abide to make cell phone recharging and data transfer easy." Apple may even bring the next-gen iPad along for the ride.
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Micro-USB Cellphone Charger Becomes EU Standard

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  • US (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weems (1153747) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:20AM (#34728500)
    I wish they would do this in the US. It's dumb that each company has their own chargers.
    • Re:US (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:28AM (#34728528)
      I would guess that most companies are going to bring it over to the US by default. If they have to design the EU versions with micro usb then hopefully they wont reinvent the wheel to redesign it for a US release.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)
        They won't redesign anything important, but I'd bet a few will still throw on their proprietary connector, which coincidentally has four meaningful pins and a size that fits a particular hole in the case.
        • by arunce (1934350)
          Yeah... right, for extra functionality like faster charge or something else better we have this extra special model specific cable.
          • by johanw (1001493)
            That is what Nokia already does: my new E72 charges with micro USB but still has the traditional thin version of ther Nokia charger which charges much faster. Since I had some of these chargers already I'm using that now, the only times I charge via USB is when I need a data connection anyway. Biggest advantage is that tethering via USB won't drain the phone battery now that it charges via USB (my laptop battery is another matter of course).
        • Re:US (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday January 01, 2011 @05:50AM (#34728942) Journal

          Worse, they might corrupt the whole idea by supporting USB, but requiring the charger to authenticate itself, and either refusing to charge or deliberately drawing less power when you detect the wrong charger.

          • by JamesP (688957)

            "deliberately drawing less power"

            Oh you mean, using a conservative figure for power capability so your charger doesn't burn/overheat/explode, etc?

            Seems ok by me.

            • by bcmm (768152)
              But shorting D+ and D- has a fixed meaning: a device can draw up 1.8A.
              • by JamesP (688957)

                But shorting D+ and D- has a fixed meaning: a device can draw up 1.8A.

                That's interesting, I was not aware of that.

                Still, micro-USB charger of my smartphone is only capable of 0.7A. Not sure if D+ D- are shorted there.

                1.8A would be great really, but maybe not practical (considering size of charger).

            • by thegarbz (1787294)
              The USB standard covers how much power a device is capable of drawing. Even the $2 chinese USB wallplugs, or USB cigaretlighter plugs can power even the toughest load a USB certified device is capable of drawing. Do anything else and you run the real risk of damaging computer's motherboards. The parent's concerns are quite valid.
          • by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Saturday January 01, 2011 @10:27AM (#34729884) Homepage Journal

            and either refusing to charge or deliberately drawing less power when you detect the wrong charger.

            One could argue based on the power management portions of the USB specification that drawing less power meets the spec, but refusing to charge does not. A device MUST NOT* draw more than one unit of current (100 mA in USB 2.0) until it successfully associates to the host controller. After a device is configured, it MAY request up to five units (500 mA) but MUST NOT draw more than the host says is available. The recent Battery Charging v1.2 spec [usb.org] specifies a protocol on the data lines that devices can use to detect dumb chargers and chargers that can provide more power, so that devices know when they MAY deliberately draw more power. You SHOULD support manufacturers of phones and other devices that support USB Battery Charging.

            * RFC 2119 [ietf.org] modal adverbs != shouting.

      • by fearlezz (594718)

        I don't think they will bring it over to the US by default. Or at least not voluntarily. The main reason why cellphone manufacturers switch to connectors that are 0.05mm smaller than the previous version, is to sell more spare adapters. This practice makes them a lot of money.

        I think that they will only switch to one common standard if (a) having two production lines for european and other phones gets more expensive than having one (b) the government forces cellphone manufacturers to do so.

        • The main reason why cellphone manufacturers switch to connectors that are 0.05mm smaller than the previous version, is to sell more spare adapters

          Who does this? I've only owned phones from Siemens, Sony Ericsson and Nokia, but they've all been compatible with chargers from the previous generation. The only exception is Nokia, but they included an adaptor with each phone that let you use it with the older charger for several years after moving to the newer form factor.

      • Bear in mind that a lot of phones get their own specialised outer casing compared to the standard version, so I doubt it would be much work to just make a small modification such as the socket.

        Take for example the HTC Hero: Standard Version [letsgodigital.org] and the American Version [zdnet.com].

        • by Teun (17872)
          No wonder, the 'Standard' version looks so socialist Fox News would bury it in five minutes!
      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        In the end - if customers decide to prefer phones with a standardized charger the other models will soon go out of production.

    • Re:US (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:45AM (#34728600)

      But, but... the invisible hand of the market?!

      (Yes, that was sarcasm).

      • Re:US (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @05:42AM (#34728910) Homepage Journal

        The invisible hand of the market has a propensity towards fisting.

      • The invisible hand snapped off the charging jack in the socket, so couldn't be reached for comment.
      • by bmajik (96670)

        I wonder if Apple had been planning on throwing the magsafe power connector on some future iPhone.

        Depending on how the EU decree was worded, presumably they'd be disbarred from doing so now.

        Does this law sunset? When mini-USB is as much of a relic as DIN-5 keyboard connectors, or when 95% of phones use inductive charging mats, will EU-market phones still have these silly ports on them?

        (incidentally, I hate any non-USB interface on a phone. The EU directive certainly appeals to my current shortsighted desi

        • I hate any non-USB interface on a phone.

          Do you also hate video output interfaces such as HDMI? A smartphone that has been connected to a large monitor to play a video could output the video using USB Video Class as if it were a webcam, but then that'd be silly.

    • It's not a government regulation, but the CTIA and GSMNA introduced the same measure in the US last year (well 2009) and it's a mandatory feature for all new handsets released from the big carriers now. Next step is to stop bundling chargers in the boxes like Apple did on the iPod. Then get rid of all the CDROM's, wired headsets, manuals and other junk accessories - they are almost gone now. Final step will be to get rid of the boxes themselves and ship in bulk to the stores and have them slipped into a (bi

      • by jaymz666 (34050)

        At the stores? I haven't bought a phone at a store since my first one in the late 90s.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Good. Less shit for me to throw away.

      • "wired headsets, manuals and other junk accessories "
        as long as the manual can be obtained by going online to http://countrycodeoemsite/support/docs/%25model%25/ [countrycodeoemsite]
        im all for less bits of paper being included in the box.

        Oh btw the box is biodegradable and serves as inner core packaging SINCE SHIPPERS CAN AND WILL THROW THE BOXES AROUND. Now having the box be the minimum size to enclose the phone and a charger would be grand.

    • The standard is fortunately leaking into Australia. I just can't see an advantage of micro USB over mini USB.

      • by neumayr (819083)
        Everyone has mini USB cables lying around. Micro USB? Not so much. So the advantage is that there is a little money to be made with branded micro USB cables.
      • Re:US (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ThreeGigs (239452) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @05:00AM (#34728800)

        Micro is rated for more insertions (I believe 10,000) than mini. Plus, micro enables thinner devices.

      • by Gnavpot (708731)

        I just can't see an advantage of micro USB over mini USB.

        I have had several mini USB phones where the plug would fall out of the phone or lose connection if I just looked at it in the wrong way.

        Micro USB feels much more stable. I can even feel a little "click" when I plug it in, whereas the mini USB was only held in place by friction.

        • by Gnavpot (708731)

          (Once again, this time with correct quotation tags):

          I just can't see an advantage of micro USB over mini USB.

          I have had several mini USB phones where the plug would fall out of the phone or lose connection if I just looked at it in the wrong way.

          Micro USB feels much more stable. I can even feel a little "click" when I plug it in, whereas the mini USB was only held in place by friction.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I have a lot more mini USB cables knocking around than mini but it is about half the thickness, so it is more suitable for thin devices. My HTC desire came with one cable and I bought another one off ebay from Hong Kong for less than 2 euros.
      • by digitig (1056110)

        I just can't see an advantage of micro USB over mini USB.

        Because most phones on sale in Europe at the moment seem to use mini-USB, so they hope to get at least one more cable sale out of this? (Except to techies like us who already have micro-USB cables lying around, of course).

    • I wish they would do this in the US. It's dumb that each company has their own chargers.

      Sounds socialist to me. I like letting capitalism sort it out. Just like it did with CDMA, TDMA, GSM, LTE and WiMAX. Thanks to capitalism we have the cheapest and fastest wireless phones known to the world.

    • Re:US (Score:5, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday January 01, 2011 @10:07AM (#34729812) Homepage Journal

      I wish they would do this in the US. It's dumb that each company has their own chargers.

      If they did this in the US, you would hear screaming about how it's another example of government's heavy thumb on the "free market" and comparisons to Stalin, Pol Pot and Kim Jong Il. Fox and Drudge would say Obama was "taking over the cell phone industry" and "shoving" "new regulations" down our "throats".

      I don't think it's safe to try to do this sort of standardization here in the US. We've got enough trouble. It might be the last straw that sets off violent revolt. "They took our cell phone adapters! Those TYRANTS!"

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:26AM (#34728520) Journal

    The claim that iPad 2 will have Micro-USB port in TFA hinges on this:

    The most recent rumor, courtesy of the Mobile Review blog editor-in-chief Eldar Murtazin, says the iPad 2 will include a USB port. ...
    AppleInsider reports that Murtazin is a trusted insider with good sources

    That's as incorrect as it goes. He's an "editor-in-chief" of an organization that consists of precisely one person, namely him; and he is well known in Russian Internet community specifically for making wild and unsubstantiated predictions, often also claiming "insider info". The majority don't come true. So if that's the only source of that information, I would be wary about its correctness.

    That said, if EU mandates micro-USB, it would seem that Apple won't get much choice there for iPhone, and then it would make sense for them to align the rest of the line-up with it, even if the law doesn't apply there. So it doesn't take an insider to make an educated guess here.

    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      I know a read somewhere, who knows where... cite my sauces? nah

      That Apple will be held to this and provide basically and adapter dongle to use with the standard iPhone connector type.

      • by mad flyer (589291)

        You mean like the dock to usb wire they ship from the start ?

        • The Apple dock connector does a few more things than USB. It's also a stereo audio connector, a few control pins and, strangely, a TTL-level serial interface. Exactly what that last one is for remains a mystery.
    • by am 2k (217885)

      That said, if EU mandates micro-USB, it would seem that Apple won't get much choice there for iPhone, and then it would make sense for them to align the rest of the line-up with it, even if the law doesn't apply there.

      Considering that the current iPad requires more power for charging (even the iPhone charger doesn't work on it due to that), I doubt that.

  • Samsung Captivate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald AT zenipex DOT com> on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:30AM (#34728542) Homepage

    So, are they legally allowed to recess the port in such a fashion that only the official cables can reach the "standard" Micro-USB port, or is that just a mistake on Samsung's part? (It's pretty much my only gripe with the phone FWIW.)

    • by mathfeel (937008)

      I have an HTC phone that has a slightly misshaped micro-USB female port that has only one wedged corner instead of the regular two corners and it comes with the a cable with a male side of the corresponding shape. This do not stop me from connecting other regular cable or micro-USB charger to the phone, but it does prevent me from using HTC's cable on other device (not that I intend to do that).

      I understand if you want to make an odd-shaped port to make people buy accessories exclusively from you. But th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by donatzsky (91033)

        It's called ExtUSB.
        From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        HTC manufactures Windows Mobile and Android-based Communicators which have a proprietary connector called HTC ExtUSB (Ext[ended] USB) which is present on the Touch Pro2. ExtUSB combines mini-USB (with which it is backwards-compatible) with audio/video input and output in an 11-pin connector.

  • I fully know standards for all types of things have been around for a long time, but either they were voluntary or just a number a company could work towards or surpass but with a design of their discretion. I'm specifically thinking of a company wanting to include some type of induction scheme like a soniccare toothbrush to charge their phones -- perhaps in an attempt to waterproof it without it needing to be "plugged" into a charger.

    And considering the push into smart phones and bigger and bigger batteri

    • by sjames (1099)

      There's no reason they couldn't inject silicone around the connector to make it waterproof and compliant.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And considering the push into smart phones and bigger and bigger batteries, will the 5 watts that USB MAY provide be enough to charge it in time?

      Barring a major development in battery technology, yes.

      What about data transfer?

      Are you proposing that USB3 is not sufficient?

    • by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @09:22AM (#34729620)
      Cell phone manufacturer had a chance to get it right, but for years they chose to use custom connectors and make a killing selling overpriced chargers and cables.
      Sometimes the invisible hand of the market needs a little nudging from the mighty foot of the state.
    • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @11:08AM (#34730084) Homepage Journal

      Camera manufacturers have been making weather-resistant DSLRs for years now (there have been well known instances where entire EOS 1Ds and EOS 7D Canon DSLR+Lenses combinations have been dunked into 3' of sea water and continued working without any problem), and they have a lot more connectors to contend with as well as a couple of microphones and speakers. It should not be difficult at all for phone manufacturers to start offering water-resistant smartphones.

  • by lgftsa (617184) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:56AM (#34728634)

    In fact, I'd not seen a device which had one before a few months ago when a couple of phones started to use it. Mini-USB has been the standard for years and is only fractionally larger whilst being much stronger.

    I would suggest that that has been the primary reason for this choice - to continue the decades old tradition of delicate connectors to facilitate the upgrade path.

    • Mini-USB has been the standard for years and is only fractionally larger whilst being much stronger.

      Mini-USB does look stronger, although according to Wikipedia, Micro should tolerate more connect-disconnect cycles.

      • The micro-USB connector itsself is more durable, but from what I've read above, there does seem to be an issue with the way it's mounted. The contact area of pads to circuit board is small, so unless the connector is properly attached with thru-pins it can snap right off the board very easily - and in tight-margin products, it's tempting for manufacturers to save a cent per device by skipping the thru-pins and just relying on the solder pads alone.
    • by romiz (757548) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @04:14AM (#34728692)
      Micro-USB is stronger one, rather than Mini-USB, or at least is supposed to [wikipedia.org]. And it is designed so that it's the cable that breaks first, instead of the device.
  • This has only been obvious for about ... 10 years.

    Technologies change. But it's ridiculously obvious that they keep changing chargers so they can charge $29 bucks for a $11 piece of hardware with a new plug.

    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @04:24AM (#34728712)

      This is so ridiculously obvious that lots of libertarians will scream murder. Forcing a standard down our throat, oh the arrogance! I will only buy phones with a different connector just out of spite!

  • by haruchai (17472) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:59AM (#34728652)

    Didn't they mandate this back in late 2006. What the heck took the EU so long?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Coordinating a binding mandate over a union of dozens of sovereign states, including one of the world's largest cellphone manufacturers, probably takes a bit longer than doing the same thing with one country with a notoriously closed cellphone market.

  • One of two things I see could happen.

    1) Apple uses its sway (and breaks a few thumbs) in the EU so that they are exempt because they already use USB in a way.

    2) They actually include the USB port (integrated into the dock connector slot somehow) and market it as a revolutionary feature that they thought of.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Option is that they'll release a 30 pin dock connector to female micro-USB connector, since it is cheaper than redesigning the input boards on various iOS devices.

      And for a little flame bait, they're not far off popularizing USB, although they didn't think of it. ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TyFoN (12980)

      Considering that they can't even make a standard mini-jack for audio without crippling to only accept their authorized accessories, I would say option 1. If they can't sway enough then option 2 obviously.

  • Most devices are chargable over USB anyway (if you buy the leads to do it) so it makes no technical sense that the device end features a proprietary connection. Apple and others probably do it only to sell expensive 3rd party peripherals that licence the connector. So it's good to see some sense being imposed on the market.
  • Once again, misusing consumer technology. Using a data-technology to transfer power, doesn't sound like it'd be very power efficient. Fine by me, capitalism works best with waste. But I still wouldn't force the inefficient standard over an efficient alternative. Good way to waste money though.

    • by o'reor (581921)
      OTOH, those devices are very often seen as USB devices to plug into computers, with huge memory capabilities, therefore providing a cheap and standard way to transfer data is certainly a good idea.
    • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Saturday January 01, 2011 @08:47AM (#34729510) Homepage

      Afaict 5V is about right for charging a single lithium ion/polymer cell. Go much higher and unless you use a switched mode converter you are just wasting more power. Go much lower and you don't have enough headroom to charge it properly. Most of the phone "chargers" I saw seemed to be tending to 5V output even before the use of a USB connector came on scene.

  • Did they fix the position and allow easy pluggable possibilities so you can have a cradle or car adapter?

    No, of course they did not.

  • by michelcolman (1208008) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @06:39AM (#34729088)
    I'm all for a single kind of connector for all kinds of devices, but... try plugging a micro USB into your phone or gps using only one hand in the dark. Now try the same with a round plug. I much prefer the latter. Micro USB seems to be much more difficult to insert, but maybe it's just me.
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Shouldn't be dark with a screen device but one-handed might be a challenge even in daylight. Glue a stick to the plug so the ends of the stick line up with the edges of the device? Could guide with thumb and pinky and push with index?
  • Does the spec detail exactly how a device wanting more than 100mA of power gets it when it's plugged into an adaptor rather than a computer? IIRC, the USB spec states that such requirements must be negotiated with the computer.

    A little research suggests that this is simple - the PSU shorts the data lines, the phone recognises this and draws whatever current it needs. But AFAICT, if phone from Vendor A draws 800mA and your PSU is rated at 500mA - well, if it's been designed without any sort of protection (

    • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @07:28AM (#34729230)
      if phone from Vendor A draws 800mA and your PSU is rated at 500mA - well, if it's been designed without any sort of protection and it is CE marked

      Someone is gouing to have to spend some time in cell block number 9.

      Of course, in the USA, consumers have no rioghts, because APPL has bought them all.

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      Does the spec detail exactly how a device wanting more than 100mA of power gets it when it's plugged into an adaptor rather than a computer?

      There is a USB Battery Charging Spec. It specifies how a dedicated charging port (which can be bower brick with a USB-A port, or something with a permanently attached cable) shall act to be USB compliant.

      But AFAICT, if phone from Vendor A draws 800mA and your PSU is rated at 500mA - well, if it's been designed without any sort of protection (quite possible on a cheap & nasty adaptor) - that's the end of that.

      Adapters without even basic current limiting are illegal in many countries, so in practice all adapters have at least basic current limiting. Basic current limiting drops the voltage when trying to draw more than the desired current. The cheap systems will still provide more current, but will do so at a lo

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @09:41AM (#34729690)
    Because I find it annoying that motorola phones at the very least won't charge on my PC. Sure, they've got a mini-usb connector but when I plug it in the phone complains that it's not a valid charger because I don't have some driver installed. (And I can't find the right one for Win64. My K-Rzr was like that too but I managed to find a driver for it.)
  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:16PM (#34731562) Homepage

    An EU standard means the following in practice:

    The Germans will complain that everyone else does it inefficiently.

    The Austrians will tell the Germans how to do it.

    The Spanish will promise to do it tomorrow.

    The Greeks will fake the documentation saying they've done it.

    The Dutch will give parents and same-sex partners time off to do it.

    The Czechs will charge foreigners extra for it.

    Nobody will have any idea what the Portuguese are doing about it.

    The Luxembourgers will interview everyone else on the radio about it.

    The French will block the roads protesting about it.

    The Danes will claim to have done it a thousand years ago.

    The Swedes will only do it for six months a year.

    The Polish will blame the Romanians and Hungarians for not doing it, or doing it too much, or not quite right.

    The Maltese will earn a medal for it.

    The Irish will invest their whole economy in it.

    The Scottish will demand a subsidy to do it.

    The Welsh won't do it until it's translated into a language that only people in Herefordshire and Shropshire actually use.

    The English will do it immediately but moan about it forever after.

    Turkey will pass a law making it illegal to do it in a headdress. The rest of the EU still won't let them join their club.

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