What Europe's Universal Charger Mandate means to you

Most of us have several types of chargers to charge our devices. This is because many products, like Apple phones and Microsoft Surface...


Most of us have several types of chargers to charge our devices. This is because many products, like Apple phones and Microsoft Surface computers, are plugged in with wires that use unique connectors.

Soon, this may no longer be the case.

This month, the The European Union has announced a mandate this will force all new portable devices like smartphones, headphones and wireless keyboards to use a common charger by 2024. Two years later, the same rules will apply to new laptops.

Although the law is enforced across Europe, it can affect consumers around the world. Indeed, it will most likely be expensive for tech companies to manufacture products with different charging technology only for European countries.

The legislation, which regulators say will reduce e-waste, appears to target Apple, whose iPhones, iPads and Macs use a range of charging technologies. Apple, which declined to comment, sent a letter to the European Commission in November expressing its opposition to mandate, arguing that this would stifle the introduction of new charging technologies. Terence Zakka, spokesman for the commission, said the legislation could be quickly updated to ensure it keeps pace with new technologies.

To sum up, no matter where you live, most devices you buy in the coming years will probably include a charging port called USB-C. The change may be a frustrating transition for many, and perhaps even more so for iPhone customers who have been collecting wires and accessories using Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector since its launch. intro ten years ago. These products will become impractical to use once the mandate goes into effect and people start buying new products that lack Lightning connections.

It will therefore help to prepare for this transition to avoid waste. Here’s what you can do.

Let’s talk about USB-C first. It is this oval connector that works with many modern Android phones and laptops. It’s not the same as Apple’s flat rectangular Lightning connector or the chunky rectangular USB connector, which is an older technology called USB-A.

European law requires all devices to use USB-C by 2026, so we’ll need to plan accordingly to incorporate this connector into the products we use to charge our devices, including power bricks and cables. .

When buying a power cable that connects to your computer or phone via a wire, make sure you get one with the oval USB-C port. This will allow it to accept a USB-C power cable, which will plug into your future phone or computer.

Many Android phones and computers already use USB-C power cables – so keep buying them if you need them. But let’s say you’re using Apple phones, which use the Lightning connector. If your wired Lightning charger for your iPhone breaks, it will always be a good idea to buy a replacement cable as these wires are relatively inexpensive. High quality, third-party Lightning cables are as low as $15. The safest bet is to buy a Lightning cable with a USB-C connector on the other end, to ensure it will plug into your next laptop or power supply.

Another option is to go wireless, said John Bumstead, owner of RDKL Incorporated, a company that sells refurbished Apple hardware. Most modern smartphones, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, work with a new wireless charging technology known as magnetic induction, which uses an electric current to generate a magnetic field and create a voltage that powers your device without plugging in a wire.

Wireless chargers come in many shapes and forms, including mats and docks. Because they don’t need to be plugged into a port on your phone, now is a good time to consider wireless chargers.

A trickier conundrum involves buying accessories like keyboards and mice, Mr Bumstead said. Some new products like Apple’s $200 Magic Keyboard or its $150 Magic Trackpad include Lightning ports.

It would be wise to wait a few years for future releases of these products, Bumstead said. Indeed, once the USB-C mandate takes effect, it will be difficult to carry around a USB-C cable for your phone and computer and a Lightning cable for your keyboard or mouse. It will be more convenient to carry one cable that charges everything. This is the whole point of European law.

Still, when everything uses the same type of connector in a few years, that won’t mean you have to throw away your devices that use proprietary connections. One option to make them more convenient to use is to purchase an adapter, such as a dongle that enables a Lightning connector to accept a USB-C connection, Bumstead said. That way, if you only have one device that uses a Lightning connector, you can use the dongle to continue plugging in that device with a USB-C cable.

Dongles are an inelegant solution, however, as they’re tiny and easy to lose, so it’s best not to buy accessories with proprietary connections. Opt for those with USB-C ports instead.

With a little forethought, this transition won’t be so bad. USB-C is a solid technology for quickly charging devices. And because so many products already use a USB-C connector, most of us already own a lot of these cables, said Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, a standards organization working with companies like Apple. , HP and Microsoft to develop USB. Technology.

“This train has already left the station,” Mr Ravencraft said. He added that USB-C was designed to have an extended lifespan, which means it should still be a useful technology in 2026, when the law takes full effect.

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Newsrust - US Top News: What Europe's Universal Charger Mandate means to you
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