EU plays catch up on mobile single charger standard
Only 18 months after agreement reached
The EU Commission has welcomed the mobile industry's commitment to using a single charging standard, only 18 months after the industry agreed it and two years after the Chinese government mandated it.
This time it's a Memorandum of Understanding to use Micro-USB signed by Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments. But like all the previous statements of intent towards a single charging solution, this one contains no guaranteed schedule or actual commitment from the companies involved.
The idea of using Micro-USB for everything was first mandated by the Chinese back in December 2006 (though without a timetable), and endorsed by the operator-led Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) in September 2007. The OMTP membership includes operators such as Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone, Telenor and T-Mobile, so it was no surprise to see them sharing a stage with Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson at 3GSM in February announcing that they had agreed to use Micro-USB as a standard charging connector.
Now the manufacturers - with the ranks swelled by Apple, Qualcomm, RIM and Texas Instruments - have presented the EU with their marvellous idea to use Micro-USB for all their mobile phones, an idea welcomed by the Commission.
Well... not all their mobile phones, that would be silly. Unusual form factors don't count, specifically wrist-watch phones, phones that don't support USB for data exchange are also excluded - but by 2010 all smart phones that already support USB connections should support charging over Micro-USB. The key word there being "should" - no one is committing to anything solid, but they promise to try.
The fact that few people have heard of Micro-USB (not to be confused with Mini-USB) doesn’t seem to bother anyone, but having a standard is to be applauded even if it's one that no one is presently using. It's good to see Apple finally joining the throng, but one has to wonder why it's all taking so long and if punters will be happy with the longer charging times that the use of USB demands.
Deciding to charge over USB doesn't require cross-industry agreement; our recently-arrived iRex electronic book came without a charger of its own. The manual curtly explains that one should use a USB connection, and if one wants a mains transformer then one could nip down to the shops and buy one. Hopefully it won't be long before the rest of our electronics come the same way. ®
People are whinging about it being micro USB, why?
Surely the fact you won't get yet another charger when you upgrade your mobile device is to be applauded, no?
Read the story. The reason it's micro USB rather than mini USB (or just "use a USB spec plug to charge, people can get USB cables with the right plug) is because the Chinese mandated it first. Very few devices in the West currently use micro USB, so where do you think all these cables, converters, and adapters are going to be built?
@ AC 17:07
Sorry AC, but there are a number of errors in your post:
- the USB specs limit the current draw to 500mA (although rarely enforced)...
Rubbish i'm afraid, the 500mA is enforced by all computers, though for tolerancing reasons you will get away with 600mA most of the time.
- the short on the dedicated power supplies indicates that it's a dumb power supply
its a short across the D+ and D- lines, on the host (i.e. dedicated charger) end.
-Also, is shouldn't affect other devices because the USB spec mandates a short on the data lines indicates a device has been plugged in.
USB does no such thing, device attachment is signalled by a pull-down resistor on one of the data lines, they are never shorted together by a USB device.
- Devices shouldn't try to do anything clever until the device-induced short is acknowledged, which will never happen when the supply includes a short also.
like i say, USB would not release a spec that had this fundamental flaw, assume it works and that you don't understand it, rather than the opposite.
Micro USB in the wild
Motorola has had some phones with micro USB, there was a cheap version of the Pebble that used it.
There are however multiple micro-USB 'standards' and it might be hoping for too much common sense to assume that everyone is talking about the same one.
We can also assume that the vast majority of phones by volume, those price sensitive sub $50 phones will continue to use dumb chargers and barrel connectors.
I wonder who will jump on this band-wagon next and claim it as theirs?
My Camera uses Micro USB, not for charging but for data transfer. I tried to get a spare data lead for it (so I could use it at work without having to remove the memory card every time) and I couldn't get one anywhere.
The sooner more micro USB leads etc are available, the better for me.
To answer the question of why micro USB not mini USB, has anyone else seen the size of micro USB? it's seriously thin so a natural for phones since they're getting thinner all the time.
The other question is will adaptors be available so those of us with older phones can use the new default micro USB chargers? (bit like the adaptors available for older Nokia chargers to fit the new smaller connector on the newer phones).