EU approves common charger rule
The EU, by a vote of 582 for it, 40 against it, and 37 abstentions, is now pushing forward with the new common charger standard. Parliament says it wants three mandatory components of the new common charger rule. First, of chief importance to the EU is the need to recycle old chargers and cables. The problem with current charger law is that it suggests OEMs create a universal charger but doesn't mandate it. The result is that, when buyers get new phones, old phone chargers end up in drawers and collect dust. Even with the new law, old chargers need recycling so that they do not end up as electronic waste.
Next, the EU says that buyers should not have to afford new chargers with each new phone. Therefore, there should be some way to separate chargers from new phone purchases. Buyers shouldn't have to pay extra for universal chargers with new phones.
Last but not least, Parliament is calling for the universal charging cable so that every mobile device, from phones to even tablets and computers, mandates only one standard charging cable that works no matter the device.
Parliament says that the new EU common charger initiative should be ready by no later than July 2020.
How the new common charger law affects Android phone makers
The new common charger law affects phone makers because it forces them to use the new USB-C charging standard, no matter the price or device. This means that a large number of Android OEMs that still utilize micro-USB charging for entry-level phones will have to employ USB-C charging in the future. Entry-level phones utilize old charging standards so as to maintain low prices. The new law requires OEMs to use USB-C regardless of device price.
Some OEMs may intend to pass the additional costs of USB-C to budget buyers, but Parliament hopes this is not the case. It wants to keep costs low for consumers so that they save money while buying new devices. As Samsung's recent quarter sales report shows, the Korean giant is facing decline in the mobile phone market. Buyers are holding devices longer these days and upgrading at a slower pace.
Big changes ahead for Apple
A number of Android OEMs will have to sell entry-level phones with USB-charging. That will require some financial loss. And yet, Apple, as the only maker of phones running its iOS software, will lose out, too. The fruit company has its own proprietary Lightning cable for its charging port.
Apple has been charging for its proprietary charging cable technology. The company has also created its exclusive Made For iPhone (MFI) platform where game controllers must adhere to Apple's own device standards. Of course, MFI devices must connect to the iPhone's Lightning port to function.
Apple says that the new EU common charger rule will "stifle innovation," but there's no innovation stifling with USB-C charging. First, there are a number of Android OEMs increasing their USB-C cable's charging capabilities. For example, there's Nubia, who is working on 80-Watt charging for its upcoming smartphone. Within wire, cable charging there is still room for what many know as "fast wire charging." One can always make fast charging faster. There is faster wireless charging using the universal Qi wireless charging standard. Within standards, there is still room for innovation. It's naive to assume that common standards eliminate any form of stand-out effort.
There are few Android OEMs that will like the new common charger rule. Apple will like it less than any Android OEM. And yet, perhaps the new common charger rule will level competition while increasing it at the same time. USB-C is the charging standard of premium phones in Android.
When Apple upgrades to USB-C charging, it won't be able to keep customers in its "walled garden" of devices and apps because of proprietary chargers. Similarly, the interoperability of chargers for both Android and iOS devices will keep Android OEMs at their best because, at any time, Android buyers can "switch over" to Apple.