Leading cellphone manufacturers have announced a deal to use a standard charger connection by 2012. But as things stand the iPhone may not be compatible with the scheme.
The GSMA, the mobile phone industry’s trade body, announced the agreement at this week’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. The major manufacturers have agreed to use the same charging socket and the deal should mean the majority of new phones will use the system within three years.
The socket is a mini-USB connection as already exists on Motorola phones. This could also be a space-saving measure as the same socket can now be used for both data transfer and mains charging. (There’s also a downside: on Motorola phones at least it’s not possible to use headphones while charging the device.)
The GSMA argues that this won’t only save hassle for consumers who no longer need to search for the correct charger, but that it will have environmental benefits because the number of chargers manufactured each year could fall by around 50%. The logic behind that claim is that consumers will no longer need to throw away chargers when they dispose of an old phone. However, that won’t have any effect if manufacturers continue to supply a charger with each new phone.
The industry is also adopting an energy-efficient model as the standard charger for the industry, which could cut recharging costs by 50%. That doesn’t necessarily mean independent firms won’t make chargers which fit the mini-USB socket but aren’t as energy efficient.
Apple was the most notable absence from the list of manufacturers signed up to the deal. The iPhone uses the same ‘dock’ connector as the iPod and there’s no sign Apple will change that policy any time soon.
The agreement may have been influenced by pressures from European regulators. The European Union had complained about the wide range of charger sockets available, with at least 30 different systems used across the continent.