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The smartphone charger: not so smart?


09 Feb 2011


Health & Consumers

NEC welcomes the delivery of the first smartphone chargers in accordance with the voluntary agreement signed by fourteen mobile phone producers in June 2009. But we regret that there is still no universally-compatible charger for mobile phones, other than smartphones, nor for other small electronic devices. Moreover, the producers have not committed to sell the chargers separately from the mobile phones themselves.

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 welcomed publication of a new European standard* detailing a common charger for data-enabled mobile phones at the end of 2010. We had 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 does 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, even though this would have been technically feasible in many cases. 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. Finally, there is no guarantee that manufacturers will not continue to sell phones bundled with a charger so outweighing the potential environmental promised.

Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary General, commented:

“Most consumers do not buy data-enabled phones and it is hard to understand why the buyers of more conventional phones will not be able to benefit from the common charger. We feared this might be a result of the voluntary agreement reached between the European Commission and mobile phone producers. Moreover, the self-congratulation of many producers overlooks that at least one producer who did not sign the voluntary agreement was selling phones with a micro-USB charger cable and compatible mains adaptor in Europe before the start of this year”.

He added:

“The ambition now must 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.”


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


ANEC in brief


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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