American lawmakers are in turn pleading for a standard smartphone charger, without offering precise specifications.
US lawmakers have sent a letter to the US Secretary of Commerce to “develop a comprehensive plan that will protect consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common standard for recharge in the USA.” And to continue: “We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technologies over consumer protection and environmental health.”
US lawmakers in turn plead for a standard smartphone charger
These lawmakers are directly referring to the European Union’s decision that from 2024 requires “all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and portable video game consoles” to have a USB charger. The goal is to reduce electronic waste and avoid unnecessary plastic products.
In the US there is no explicit mention of a USB-C connector, but it is obvious that USB-C is the most popular standard and Apple is clearly targeted here. That being said, we’ve been hearing this for several years now and nothing concrete has come of it yet.
Even if Apple switched to USB-C, it probably wouldn’t impact its licensing. Apple already uses a microchip to ensure that all Lightning cables are licensed and work well. The Cupertino company could do the same with USB cables. Will legislators go so far as to impose interoperability between brands?
Many OEMs, like Samsung, have already stopped shipping their smartphones with charger and cable. The first downside is that you don’t get the fastest possible charge unless you buy a charger separately.
Without offering precise specifications
Imposing a standard like USB-C would also have big advantages. USB Power Delivery supports very high powers (over 100W) and owners of a high-power charger can use it with any USB-C device, from their laptop to their electric toothbrush.
Besides smartphones, there are still plenty of small electronic devices that could use USB-C, but don’t. With regard to electronic waste, we could thus make great progress. The Android ecosystem is already moving in this direction, but it has yet to be quantified.
And the so-called innovation problem is not believable with charging. While there are some innovations in this area, none have emerged with the connector itself. It will depend on how the legislations will be defined and what margin the OEMs will have. As long as backwards compatibility is assured, as with USB-C, there seems to be no innovation limitation for charging.
Perhaps it would be reasonable to force a standard on relatively low power and/or slow speeds, where innovation, both in charging itself and in data transfer, is less likely to occur.