The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has laid out plans to force smartphone and other electronics manufacturers to fit a common USB-C charging port on their devices.
The laid out plans are intended to cut down on electronic waste by allowing people to re-use existing chargers and cables when they buy new devices.
The rules will not be restricted to mobile phones only, as other devices like tablets, headphones, portable speakers, video game consoles and cameras have also been targeted by the commission.
Manufacturers will also be forced to make their fast-charging standards interoperable, such that the new HyperCharge technology from Xiaomi could also be used by a Samsung or a Huawei device.
Information will also be provided by manufacturers to consumers about what charging standards their device supports. If the new proposals are implemented, customers will be able to buy devices without an included charger.
It is important to note that the proposals only cover wired chargers, leaving plenty of room for manufacturers to innovate in wireless charging.
A spokesperson from the Commission in a statement to Reuters confirmed that a USB-C port is only mandatory for devices that charge using a cable. If a device charges exclusively via wireless, there would be no need for a USB-C charging port.
The revised Radio Equipment Directive proposal will need to pass a vote in the European Parliament before it becomes law. However, the parliament had already voted in favour of new rules on a common charger in 2020 indicating that the new proposals should have plenty of support.
“Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that,” Thierry Breton, one of the Commissioners.
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger,” European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager said.
Apple is the biggest loser
Apple which ships their phones with a lightning connector are most likely to be affected the most by the new rules.
Not wasting time, the tech giant has already voiced its stand saying it disagrees with the proposals: “We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”
Apple counters by saying that they risk creating e-waste by forcing people to throw out their existing Lightning accessories if they are incompatible with the universal standard.
The new rules impact in Kenya and the rest of Africa
Europe holds a significant share of the mobile phone market, and forcing one charging standard in their region is likely to send shock waves to the rest of the world.
Manufacturers will most likely implement the set charging standard worldwide, as it will not make financial sense to have different charging standards for different regions, mainly because of the economies of scale in the manufacturing process.
The USB-C has slowly been gaining market share in the Kenyan mobile scene, especially in the middle range and high-end markets, and it was only a matter of time before it is also adopted in the entry-level devices.
The proposed laws will only fast track its adoption, which is a good thing, as it is better in every way compared to the Micro-USB that is currently found in the majority of mobile handsets in the country.