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The universal charger: not quite universal yet


03 Jan 2011


Health & Consumers

ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardisation, considers the new European standard1 aimed at ensuring the compatibility of battery chargers for use with smartphones2 as a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the standard does not apply to chargers for phones other than smartphones nor to other small electronic devices.

When a consumer buys a new mobile phone, he or she will often find that a different charger is needed for the phone, even if the old charger still works. This needlessly contributes to electronic waste and can be inconvenient when people prefer to share one charger (when travelling on holiday, for example). Besides, it is the consumer who has to bear the cost of the new charger.

Hence ANEC welcomes publication of the new standard for a common charger for data-enabled mobile phones. We have been asking for the standard since February 2008 in order to reduce waste and energy consumption.

However we regret the lack of ambition on the part of manufacturers. The standard will not apply to most new mobile phones, as smartphones represent only 25% of the market. Moreover, it does not address other small handheld multimedia devices such as portable music players, gaming consoles, GPS-devices and digital cameras. The electrical consumption in no-load condition is also not covered, so allowing even these new chargers to continue to use energy after the phone has finished charging.
Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary General, commented:
“The standard undoubtedly holds some benefits for consumers and the environment. But its limited scope is extremely disappointing. Most consumers do not buy data-enabled smartphones and it is hard to understand why buyers of more conventional mobile phones will not be able to benefit from the common charger. We feared this might be a consequence of the voluntary agreement reached between the European Commission and mobile phone producers in June 2009. ANEC had been seeking a more interventionist stance from the Commission.”
He added:
“The ambition must now be to include all mobile phones and other small consumer multimedia electronic devices within the scope of this or similar standards. We will look to the Commission for action if the industry does not make a commitment to do so in the very near future.”


1 EN 62684: 2010 “Interoperability specifications of common external power supply (EPS) for use with data-enabled mobile telephones”

2 Smartphones are mobile phones that offer functions similar to those found on personal computers.






ANEC in brief


Raising standards for consumers


ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from 31 European countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organisations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.


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