It seems that few features of a consumer electronic product will generate as much rancour as a mobile phone charger socket. For those of us with Android phones, the world has slowly been moving over the last few years from micro-USB to USB-C, while iPhone users regard their Lightning connector as the ultimate in connectivity. Get a set of different phone owners together and this can become a full-on feud, as micro-USB owners complain that nobody has a handy charging cable any more, USB-C owners become smug bores, and Apple owners do what they’ve always done and pretend that Steve Jobs invented USB. Throwing a flaming torch into this incendiary mix is the European Union, which is proposing to mandate the use of USB-C on all phones sold in its 27 member nations with the aim of reducing considerably the quantity of e-waste generated.
Minor annoyances over having to carry an extra micro-USB cable for an oddball device aside, we can’t find any reason not to applaud this move, because USB-C is a connector born of several decades of USB evolution and brings with it not only the reversible plug but also the enhanced power delivery standards that enable fast charging no matter whose USB-PD charger you are using. Mandating USB-C will put an end to needlessly overpriced proprietary cables, and bring eventual unity to a fractured world.
A Reminder Of The Bad Old Days
Readers with long memories will recall that the EU has done this before with USB charging, something that was only mostly successful because it took the form of a memorandum of understanding with the manufacturers. But most Android phone manufacturers signed on. And this spilled over to other devices.
Apple wiggled out of micro USB by including an adapter cable, leaving the proprietary jack in the phone itself. This time around, it’s likely the EU will mandate the connector, thus removing any room for manoeuvre on the part of recalcitrant manufacturers.
What Could Go Wrong?
The USB-C port is tough, convenient, and feature-rich, so where might be the snags in this plan? Imagine for a minute that they had made this move back in 1998 instead of 2021. There were a multitude of chargers on the market back then, but probably the most common was the Nokia 5 V miniature barrel jack. It would have made sense to go with the Nokia connector, so all phones made in the last couple of decades for the EU market would have it. By now the demands for an improved connector taking up less space and with some means of data transfer would be deafening, because the mobile phone has evolved in so many ways unimaginable in the days when a Nokia 5100 was an object of desire.
So it is today, the USB-C connector has all the features we can think of for a mobile device of the 2020s, and will remain useful for the coming years, right? But what about the 2030s or the 2040s? When a Galaxy Fold or an iPhone 13 look as quaint as that Nokia with Snake on it does today, will the 5 GB data transfer rate or 100 W power limit be enough? Any mandated standard must have within it a provision for revision to reflect technological advancement, otherwise we risk creating a throwback. Or push forward the next standard.
So we welcome the prospect of a truly unified charging cable for all our devices. We think USB-C is a good tool for the job, and we hope it doesn’t simply create standardised EU versions while leaving the rest of the world still arguing over which cable is best. We simply hope that the EU can act with sense when it comes to the lifespan of their choice.
Header image: Project Kei, CC BY-SA 4.0.
115 thoughts on “Showdown Time For Non-Standard Chargers In Europe”
Fiber port, let the laser charge and transfer the data.
Kind of joke, but maybe a clean separation between power and data with the later on optical, and the former copper. Our optical technology is mature enough for great speeds, and gives electrical isolation, as well as small size. That leaves plenty of room for power delivery while retaining safety.
It isnt mature as you cant buy Power Over Fiber products yet which dont cost an arm and a leg. Also they have way lower efficiency with the used POF-receiving end solar cell, which means charging power isnt that high due to power dissipation in the phone. Id be more than happy to suggestions for cheap POF-products with an electrical output of >=1W.
Missed the data/power-separation mentioning. My bad.
Just drill hole in the tip of 3.5mm headphone jack, put fiber inside and you have connector which can handle most of the use cases i can imagine. From using legacy headphones, to providing lots of power (3.5mm jacks are even used to power soldering tips) and lots of data (you can have separate wavelengths in single fiber each carrying separate data stream with bandwidth of hundreds of gigabits). One wavelength (color) for HDMI, another for Ethernet, another for external harddriver, and so on. Everything of that is possible with modified 3.5mm jack. All you need is optical fiber and some power delivery handshake mechanism (You start with 1V provided via TRRS jack for microphones and negotiate higher voltages as needed)
In future we have wireless power and wireless data. Well, we have them now already… let’s just omit the connector completely and focus on high-power wireless power.
At maybe 60% wireless efficiency, connectors are still the better option.
Cosemi’s OptoUSB is an optical cable with USB-C and PD.
With USB4 supporting up to 40Gb/s for data (each way) and 240W of power, it’s going to take a while for phones and other small devices to outgrow what USB-C can do *today*. Keep in mind it’s already gone from 5Gb/s and 4.5W to what it is today, there’s good hope for continuing improvements in the future. And if it does get outgrown, they can change the legislation. They have already moved from micro-USB-B connectors, so there is a history of them updating things.
And the value in having a standard isn’t in the very long term stability of it–even 5 years is long enough to show a great deal of benefit–but in unifying the connections for that amount of time. Once the standard for micro-B came about, it was wonderful to see all the crazy panopoly of connecters collapse down into *one* nice standard. There can be debate about if micro-B was the right thing to pick, but the benefit of having *one* standard eclipsed that.
Now is the time to move on. USB-C is well proven at this point and has plenty of headroom for devices to expand their functionality (and not just supply them power).
Can you even imagine someone designing a phone and thinking that 240W USB cables are a bottleneck? I’m pretty sure that’s a good way to make a LiPo cell burst into flames. ;)
Maybe if we get solid state batteries then we could recharge them in a seconds.
It will be interesting to see how this comment ages. 20 years ago, if you had a cellphone, it was charged by a 1-2W charger, now even low end smartphones charge at 10W or more.
What battery tech developments will emerge in the next 20 years and how will device power and charging requirements evolve?
There is currently phones on the market that charge at 65 watts, as crazy as that is is debatable.
Though, some are down at a more realistic 25 watts, easily an order of magnitude more than what phones used to reach in the early 2000’s. And 10-20 years into the future, who knows, 240 W might be seen as “typical of fast chargers, but the really fast one’s are over twice that!”
Nobody will ever need more than 640k of RAM
No phone is complete without the spot welding adapter. You gotta be carrying enough energy to start a car, and it has to charge instantly.
Phone that doubles as a taser?
However, Micro USB were never a legally enforced standard for all devices to comply with. It were simply the market itself moving towards a de facto standard.
That USB-C will likely take over regardless from a marketing point is all fine. But there is no reason for the EU to force it into a monopoly. Even the EU is slow when it comes to adjusting to the times.
The micro usb was indeed never legally enforced but the EU pushed the phone manufacturers to adopt a single connector in 2009.
And adopt one they finally have! USB-C.
Umm… the way it’s written in the HaD article makes it sound like Apple is proposing the switch to USB-C when it’s really the EU that is in favor and Apple unhappy about it.
Did you read the same article? I didn’t get a whiff of Apple leading the change to mandate USB-C at the device.
With USB-C have we reached peak-connector? The 100W limit can be increased to a point, just increase the voltage – 20V today, 48V is typically the max safe voltage for whatever reason (PoE). You’d need to keep the insulation sufficient when increasing the voltage, yet 48V is hardly high voltage territory. Keeping the max 5A which specifies the required cable diameter, you could get 240W. That’s power sorted for mobile devices. If a device was sinking 240W then I probably wouldn’t wan’t that in my hand.
Data-wise 10 Gbit/s today and with some funky modulations who knows what’s possible in future. Again, to a mobile device what could sustain that bandwidth? In future maybe the flash can be read/written faster but then USB-C will likely have kept up. 4k displays are supported, again this could most probably go faster over the same physical connectors.
The 48volt limit is because the bottom limit for getting shocked is around 50 volts. Anything lower and the voltage is too low to overcome the natural resistance in the body.
Once you get over 50 volts there are a whole slew of different regulations to deal with since it can now shock someone.
As I got it explained to me is that from about 50volt is high voltage and lower is low voltage, just because of how the human body reacts.
The old SELV standard draws the line at 60V. PoE (PSE) sources output 54 to 57V to help overcome the wire resistance and deliver usable power up to 100m away. The old IEC/UL 60950-1 and replacement IEC 62368-1 is a hazard-based safety standard. It’s basic ES1 is 60VDC. A lot of things like PoE, 2-way radio and cellular base stations operate at 54V (float voltage of a 48V battery). You can touch 54V with dry hands and will not feel a thing. You can lick 9V battery terminals with your tongue and it may hurt. “High” and “Low” are subjective. North American electrical code writers have confused this issue by picking all sorts of voltages as thresholds for “safe”.
you can get shocked by less than 50. the old standard was 10v.
The problem is not so much the risk of getting shocked, but that the risk of arching increases dramatically with voltages over 20V.
So breaking 48V 5A DC has a fair chance of ending op as a torch.
given how much “smarts” is needed to negotiate said 20V, it would be fairly easy to add arc detection on top…
The 5A limit is ultimately imposed by the USB-C connector contacts temperature rise. Cable size is a secondary consideration.
Mandate wireless charging and wireless data, so no connectors at all.
Even the old Nokia barrel jack wasn’t standard, when they brought out the thin one…
It was about as standard as Apple has been with their Ipod connector moving to lightning (ignoring USB-C on some IPads). 2 different connectors over 20 years is actually commendable for Apple. I think Nokia were similar, mid 90s for the large barrel, early-mid 2000s for the smaller barel. Then the short-lived heyday of the late N-series moved to micro USB.
Yes we need wireless charging for our hair dryers and waffle irons and impact wrenches. We need wireless data transfer for our routers and cable modems. Get rid of those pcie edge connectors and make them wireless too. No connectors, no exceptions.
There is higher chances for the EU illegalizing wireless charging than what there is for it to be mandated.
To a degree, wireless charging is illegal in some niche implementations. And is in the legal gray area as a whole in most implementations. But I have already extensively written as to why this is the case here: https://hackaday.com/2021/06/20/19-coils-make-charging-wireless/#comment-6358162
I do that now, my phone sync’s with my nextcloud server via my wireless network while its sitting on its wireless charger at night,
There is a few major issues with this proposal for USB-C.
1. It stifles innovation.
Since USB-C really doesn’t have a lot to be fair. It is mainly just 6 differential pairs and a set of power pins and some “special” ones for other stuff. But it is likely going to be insufficient in the future on many fronts.
2. It overcomplicates things for a lot of applications.
USB power delivery is not a nice nor fun standard to implement in various products that mainly just need power. And it is here that this proposal is honestly worst… And to what I have read, even the humble 9-19 v barrel jack is in the legal gray area, despite being ubiquitous and almost perfect for a lot of applications.
3. It literally gives a monopoly to a non EU based organization. Thankfully an organization that isn’t “for profit” any more, but it still isn’t a free to use standard… There is licensing costs involved for a long list of applications. Though, thankfully a few exceptions for quite a bit of applications.
But some applications will now be forced to pay a license fee for a standard that is pushed onto them. But likewise, the EU can’t go and force the USB Implementers Forum to make changes and “open up” there standards and licensing structure. Firstly since it isn’t a EU based organization, and secondly that it is fairly obtuse to do such even to one’s native organizations.
4. It is questionable if the USB-C connector even has the necessary specifications to do what is already pushed onto it. For an example, power delivery allows up to 48 volts at 5 amps at current, is there sufficient pin to pin distance to ensure safe fire free operation? And is the contact resistance sufficient to handle 5 amps?
Then there is the current problems with arching when disconnecting a USB-C cable supplying more than 12 V. Implementing a fix for unexpected unplugging is a feature that seemingly isn’t trivial to fix. (a somewhat shorter data pin for sensing the disconnect before it actually happens could be a solution. But no such pin currently exists in the specifications.)
Arching is though a major problem since it reduces contact life, and is a fire hazard.
5. What happens when a new better connection comes about? A new law?
In the end.
It would be much much better to just let the market handle itself in this department.
After all, 15 years ago, each and every phone manufacturer used their own connector, some even had multiple different connections for their different devices. But today it is mostly USB-C, Micro USB and the Apple lightning port as far as phones go. Laptops have drastically moved to USB-C (including Apple), a few more power hungry one’s though still have their own barrel plugs, but these more power hungry devices are likely exempt from the proposed directive regardless.
And what about other devices that don’t consume tons of power?
Like network switches/routers, desk laps, monitors, etc?
The Industrial and medical fields are likely except entirely, since reliability is usually a big concern there, not to mention that the environments themselves can be rather harsh towards electronics, but this is also applicable to outdoor electronics in the consumer world.
Your arguments also apply to railroad rail spacing, power connectors, car cigarette lighters, tire inflators, coin sizes, keyboard spacing, pedal placement, guitar tuning, etc. We pick something and we work with it. The U in USB stands for universal, we all get it.
Yes USB power delivery is an issue if you want to do arc welding or make a frozen margarita, but for phones and laptops it works great.
Yes, when one standardizes a field, there is pros and cons to that standardization.
Rail road gauge should for an example have been wider. Same for loading gauge. (Trains wouldn’t be as cramped if they were a meter wider as standard. Nor would they derail as easily if the tracks were wider too, since rolling over a car is harder if its wheelbase is wider.)
Power connectors could be better too. The type F connector is however fairly decent with its 250 V and 16 A capabilities. (though, most places using it run at 230 volts, and a lot of sockets are only rated to 10 amps.) The type A/B socket seems like a death trap in comparison… The type G seems bulky, and the Europlug should be illegal…. (I don’t know how often it’s pins gets stuck in a socket leaving a pair of exposed wires sticking out, the type A/B is far safer.)
Car cigarette lighters is an odd standard. I personally think USB might kill it soon.
The schrader valve on car tiers has just won over the competition. And for the application it is good enough and there really isn’t much incentive for change.
Coin sizes aren’t standardized in the slightest… Every country has their own sizes, and usually can’t even stick to the ones they have selected.
Kayboard spacing varies, especially on custom ones and laptops. But keyboard layouts on the other hand are standardized, but with large amendments to the various regions that they are used in. I for an example type this out on a Scandinavian ISO keyboard.
Pedal placement in cars is thankfully standardized, likely due to safety concerns. Though, I have noticed how the break pedal on American cars are wider than what they are on European ones.
Yes, some standard will eventually grow forth in a market, but it doesn’t always have to be through legal action. The market is fairly adapt at taking convenience for the end user, since that is a literal marketing thing. Unless the less convenient option has sufficient advantages.
What the future has in hold, is something only the future knows. If USB-C will be sufficient or not is something we can only speculate. In the next 5 years, it is likely sufficient, 10, 20? who knows.
But the main issue of forcing a standard through legal action is that it makes it harder for a new better standard to grow forth onto the market since it suddenly requires legal action. And for a thing that will at some point change, it might not be justified to impose a legal requirement. After all, USB-C is fairly new, USB itself is though less young. But the market is still moving forward at a noticeable pace. This is not a good place to decide to make it drastically harder for the market to innovate forth a new generation of connectors.
“Yes USB power delivery is an issue if you want to do arc welding or make a frozen margarita, but for phones and laptops it works great.”
If only this were true. Instead we have a crap-shoot where you can buy a well-reviewed charger that will work with your laptop but not your phone, or vice versa. And probably neither work with your USB-C charged Nintendo Switch.
You can put “Universal” in the title, but you can only fool….. well, most of the people, I guess.
The law doesn’t specify usb c, it simply says that phone manufacturers must agree upon a standard connector. Right now, that’s USBC. In 5 years, it might be something different. This law is actually quite reasonable and answers all your gripes. Also, it’s not about those other devices.
The law proposal talks about USB-C so…
The text states the following as the basis for the new law proposal:
“Ever since the MoU (memorandum of understanding) expired in 2014 (after two letters of renewal), the European Commission
has been trying to foster the adoption of a new voluntary agreement. In March 2018,
following several rounds of discussion among the relevant manufacturers and exchanges of
views with the Commission, the industry proposed a new MoU on a future common charging
solution for smartphones. However, the Commission did not consider the new MoU to be
satisfactory as it is not in line with the EU’s harmonisation objectives, which seek to limit
fragmentation of charging solutions (both the charging interfaces and the charging
communication protocols) for mobile phones and similar items of radio equipment. The
proposed new MoU continued to allow for proprietary solutions (vendor-specific connection
means), which the Commission no longer considers justified in view of the technical
advantages provided by the introduction of the USB Type-C interface.”
“New Annex (Part I): It requires that mobiles phones and the similar radio devices, if
they are capable to be recharged via wired charging, are equipped with the USB
Type-C receptacle and, if they also require charging at voltages higher than 5 volts or
currents higher than 3 amperes or powers higher than 15 watts , incorporate the USB
Power Delivery charging communication protocol.”
Here is a source to the text for the proposal:
So it seems rather set in stone that USB-C is what the EU commission is looking at. Since it has largely become a de facto standard as is.
As clearly outlined in:
“USB Type-C is a technology that is already common to many categories or classes of
radio equipment as it provides high-quality charging and data transfer. The USB TypeC charging receptacle, when combined with the USB Power Delivery charging
communication protocol, is capable of providing up to 100W of power and therefore
leaves ample room for further development of fast charging solutions, while allowing
the market to cater for low-end phones that do not need fast charging. Mobile phones
and similar radio equipment that support fast charging can incorporate the USB Power
Delivery features as described in standard EN IEC 62680-1-2:2020 ‘Universal serial
bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-2: Common components – USB Power
Laptops though gets a nice exception due to not being radio equipment. Despite typically having WiFi, but the text refers to cellular communications (basically GSM). But yes, network switches and other non battery operated devices are also exempt. (It took me a while to find the actual law proposal, since no one really links to the document…)
The connector spec is for 5A which is the amount of current that it can carry for a defined temperature rise. i.e. the contact resistance (I^2 * R) is part of the equation.
The pin to pin spacing combined with mechanical tolerances is another matter. The Nintendo Switch uses a loose tolerance USB-C connector and that causes a bit of problem.
> Nintendo wanted the Switch to slide very smoothly in and out of its dock—but the USB-C mechanical design spec doesn’t allow for that. So Nintendo’s own dock for the Switch is very slightly narrower than the USB-C standard in order to provide the desired smooth slide instead of the usual snug click.
>Third parties want to emulate that mechanical feel as closely as possible, but there’s no published standard—they basically just take a stab at it and hope for the best. Given that the standard already has pins spaced only 0.5mm apart, even a slight design or manufacturing defect is likely to cause a port to fail.
>If the port fails open—meaning pins just don’t make electrical contact—there’s usually no real harm done. But if they fail short—meaning pins are bridged electrically to pins they have no business connecting to—you may easily overvolt a pin. Remember that 6V absolute maximum rating on the Configuration Channel of the Switch’s USB-C PD chip? Well, it’s only 0.5mm away from the VBus (main power line), which carries 15V.
There is a lot that is left to desire when it comes to USB-C pinout.
Overheating of the connector from pushing 5 amps is honestly not a major worry on my side. But 48 volts thrown over it partly is. 0.5mm is after all not particularly far, and the “0.5mm” is the pin to pin pitch, not the space between them, that is even smaller….
Meanwhile a network port has over 0.5mm of clearance between pins, and on the connector side they are recessed as well, giving even more creepage distance so that any slightly conductive gunk can’t as easily conduct as much current. (not that conductive gunk is the worst issue, shorted pins is far worse.)
Personally I do not think that USB-C is having the mechanical specs to run safely at 48 volts, especially with 5 amps behind it. It might work most of the times, but we can look at the Samsung Note 7 that about 1 in a 100k devices caught fire.
Not that shorted pins on a connector is not always a fire hazard, but it is still a potentially fried device and a new piece of e-waste. And for a directive looking at reducing e-waste, then maybe USB-C isn’t a good candidate.
Lets wait for the next connector with more properly spread out power pins that aren’t having a risk of shorting in daily use. And maybe a connector with room for 8 differential pairs and a more easily implemented power negotiation protocol.
But the big difference with this law proposal is that it forces the use of USB-C, and USB-C isn’t always applicable or practical for all applications that are covered. It is easier to just let the market handle this by itself.
Especially in the future when some new better connector comes along. Since that is more or less inevitable.
“It is easier to just let the market handle this by itself.”
If one thing has became clear during the past 20-30 years is that the market clearly sucks big time when it comes to these things. While some of the EU proposals are ridiculous (0.00 alcohol limit) some are actually good and this is one of the good ones.
Is usb-c future proof? Of course not, nothing is, but gigawatt wireless power delivery and quantum entanglement belong in a different specification. For today’s world (and the next 10+ years) it’s bloody perfect – delivers enough power and enough speed for 99.9999% usage cases.
I think you missed the main bulk of the message here…
Bear in mind that the connector pitch is 0.5mm i.e. center to center, AND the width of the contacts takes away from the gap between conductors! When you factor in mechanical tolerances between pins, bent pins , connectors alignment etc., the worse case spacing is even worse.
I am not comfortable with the conductor to conductor spacing when they push it to 50V. Take a look at the creepage requirement for PCB to get an idea what it should have been. Bear in mind that there is not even solder resist to cover the connector contacts and dirt and all kinds of things can get.
Thanks for bringing this up. I thought the same things when reading the article. I really like USB-C, but it seems really shortsighted and limiting to require it to be the only way. Sure, the law can be changed, but if one company comes up with something better and doesn’t want to share it with most of their competition, there’s no way the law will change, and therefore that company won’t be able to use the better method(!) that they developed(!), at least not in the EU.
“After all, 15 years ago, each and every phone manufacturer used their own connector, some even had multiple different connections for their different devices. But today it is mostly USB-C, Micro USB and the Apple lightning port as far as phones go.”
One might argue that it’s precisely because there has already been a lot of *prior* regulatory work along these lines (i.e., the 2009 memorandum of understanding and other industry outreach done by the Commission) that all those other connectors faded away as rapidly as they did, leaving us in the happier situation we have today. But the fact that there are nevertheless still *new* products shipping without the latest standard (Apple, micro-usb gear) suggests that the work isn’t entirely done.
Anyway, most of your objections here don’t seem to be addressed to the actual proposal. Things like medical devices, network switches, test gear, development prototypes, etc. are very definitely not covered. Not even laptops. And there’s no indication that they’ll be roped in any time soon — wall plugs are already largely standardized, after all. This directive is concerned with consumer chargers for a few classes of the most common battery powered *portable* consumer devices (phones, handheld game consoles, bluetooth speakers…).
And if you’re a manufacturer shipping a cell phone or a digital camera in sufficient quantities for anyone to care about — or a startup with a credible Kickstarter for one — incorporating a proper type C port isn’t going to kill you. You were probably already planning to do it, and it shouldn’t be the biggest challenge you’re facing. Not compared to all the other logistical, engineering and regulatory hurdles you’re going to have to jump on the way to the market.
Even the “holding back innovation” concern doesn’t seem that credible to me:
A) There’s still plenty of head room in USB-C. Particularly for the kinds of devices actually covered by this proposal.
B) If and when a new physical USB interface (or other credible charging standard) is developed that supplants USB-C, the Commission can amend the directive to include it — they say as much in the FAQ. Tacking a future standard onto the directive can be done a lot faster than manufactures could engineer it into any end user devices anyway.
If I’m wrong, maybe it would help to be more clear what sort of potential “innovation” we’re actually talking about:
AFAICT, most of the day-to-day innovation in these devices is on things like software, silicon specs, screen size, or new wireless protocols. Those, along with fast charging, might be driving device power consumption a little higher at the margins, but not, I don’t think, to the point where cellphones are slurping hundreds of watts from their wall chargers.
I might be missing something, but about the only thing I can imagine driving things into that territory would be some fairly major revolutions in battery capacity and/or charge rate. If and when such innovations in battery tech are forthcoming, it’s difficult to see how an EU connector standard for gameboys would put a stop to them. And there should be plenty of time to address any such developments in future connector standards, well before anything gets into consumer hands.
First off, my comment were firstly written before having read the actual proposal’s document. (since few to non knows how to link to a simple file. But I did it myself above. But here it is again for anyone that missed it:
So I didn’t exactly know what products were and were not covered by it. Some people out on the web talked about low power consuming devices in general. Others about battery operated ones. But the proposal is a bit more narrow than even that.
Some of my opinions on the USB-C connector isn’t about it not being sufficient. But rather how it is electrically abused as is. The clearances in it, and the fact that high voltage power pins sits next to voltage sensitive data pins makes it a rather inept design. (the 0.2-0.3mm clearance is lackluster at best…)
The part about stifling innovation is more in regards to the fact that the proposal will make it harder for a new connector to get onto the market.
As I stated in a post bellow:
“The market tends to stride towards convenience unless new features are deemed more important. And the market more or less naturally switches between those two stances as needed. Little reason to stifle this through legal action.
After all, the market can only really migrate to a new port if a new port exists and has proven its capabilities in practice. And a new port can only start existing and prove itself on the market if it is allowed to exist on said market. A law that out right prevents it from existing is thereby stifling innovation.”
And the problem with the EU commission’s statement regarding, “but we can just amend the rule to include any future connector.” is about as saying, “If something is sufficiently popular, we will give it the means to become sufficiently popular.” Also known as catch-22.
Now, a connector can also be brought forth and supported by major players on the market, that together desire it to be the new standard. But this tends to lead to snowballing specs and overpromising. And in the end the result is a mixed bag of contempt.
Personally I do not see a problem with the current stance of the market.
We have Micro USB as the old standard that is phasing out of the market at a fairly rapid rate at current.
We have USB-C that is phasing into the market.
And we have lightning port that sidelines with its own pros and cons. (though, mainly being a walled garden for Apple’s enjoyment, but that is besides the point.)
The market is already rather strongly moving towards USB-C, there is little reason to legally require it.
The downsides to this proposal is bigger than the largely inevitable upsides. The market is switching to USB-C regardless if there is a law demanding it or not. Considering its current course.
“After all, the market can only really migrate to a new port if a new port exists and has proven its capabilities in practice.”
But there’s nothing preventing that from happening. Nobody ships products before standards are well along anyway.
Consider the actual history of USB-C:
– conceptualized in July 2013
– standardized in August 2014
– the first cutting-edge products start shipping late Q1/early Q2 2015
– the migration is still ongoing
You’ll note how the finalized standard *preceded* adoption by a few quarters, and the initial concept preceded that by over a year. Also that the first products were shipped by a daring few before any capabilities could ever have been “proven in practice”.
And all of that is kind of how it has to work. The standard comes first — it would have been crazy for e.g., Nokia to ship a tablet *before* the standard dropped, no could they have even done preliminary engineering work before there was at least an early draft. And by definition someone has to take risks and ship some products before anything is proven out in the real world.
All the Commission has to do is cooperate with that process. I.e.: Pay attention to discussions at USB-IF and other relevant standards groups. If and when there is serious talk about a new connector that might impact the directive, take action.
Which needn’t mean making a big, slow revision to the directive. Just publishing a memorandum would be sufficient. Notify manufacturers that they’re aware of the new work, and will consider the forthcoming type-X connector provisionally compliant, alongside the old standard. It would cost nothing to do that at a fairly early draft stage, in time for even the cutting edge-iest manufacturers to make informed decisions about using the connector in new designs.
Voila, your conditions will be satisfied: the new port will “exist” (as a standard), early products will start arriving on the market, and the port will be able to “prove itself” (or not) in practice.
Eventually, if and when it does, the Commission could decide to deprecate USB-C fully, just as it is now doing with micro USB. Ideally, they will even expedite the migration a bit next time: There’s an argument to be made that real consumer and environmental harm has resulted from the glacial move over to type-C. It’s a legitimate problem that Chinese speaker manufacturers and whomever are still shipping micro USB products in late 2021, more than half a decade later, either because they’re too lazy to update their tooling, or are trying to leverage charge port convenience for price discrimination. IMO, this is a valid state interest, and a perfectly good reason to “legally require it”.
“The part about stifling innovation is more in regards to the fact that the proposal will make it harder for a new connector to get onto the market.”
This is exactly the part I disagree with. The market isn’t the first stop for a new connector anyway. The standards process is.
Down the road it will be trivial for the Commission to look at an early draft of the “USB Type-Z” spec, or whatever, and issue a memorandum announcing that the new connector will be treated as provisionally compliant with this directive (alongside the prior one(s)). That should allow more than enough time for even the cutting-edgiest manufacturers to incorporate it into new designs and get it out into the market for further real-world proving.
And when such a replacement eventually does prove itself, the Commission can move to deprecate type C as it is (finally) doing now with micro, etc.
Hopefully, it will do that even more rapidly next time. There’s an argument that real consumer and environmental harm has been done by the relatively slow migration to type-C. It’s long after type-C has “proven itself” (I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than micro…), and yet, even now in late-2021, there are manufacturers dragging their feet and shipping mass market micro-USB products. Either because they are too lazy to update their tooling, or because they’re trying to use charge connectors as a price discrimination tool. It’s not really something we should consider acceptable.
Mitigating this harm is a valid state interest, and more than reason enough, IMO, to legally require it.
(Looks like the system ate a somewhat longer earlier reply. Apologies if this ends up as a duplicate)
I don’t agree.
Legislation is fairly slow at changing even when it is fast, not to mention tone deaf when it comes to more technical decisions.
Secondly, there is incentive for the commission to not amend the legislation, since switching to a new port will always carry downsides in terms of waste. Especially if the change is fast.
Not to mention that competing solutions from other organizations won’t really get to see the light of day in the field. Even if they are applicable. (Though USB IF is currently more or less having the only bus on offer with decent specs, other than PCIe. Intel used to make Thunderbolt, but recently gave the rights to that to USB IF as well. But this is besides the point, we do not know what the future holds. Maybe CXL comes in and rocks be boat considerably.)
Not that the EU has anything to gain on giving away a monopoly to USB IF, a non EU based organization that does carry license fees for using their standards.
Then there is the mechanical and electrical issues to consider with USB-C. Separating the main power pin from surrounding data pins by only 0.2 mm is fairly inadequate. Especially when operating at up to 48 volts.
Pin to pin shorts is a known issue with USB-C. So it is down right dumb to legally require a port with a systemic flaw in its design. (It is like legally requiring to use Takata’s airbags back in the day. It works fine the first few years before becoming the equivalent of a shut gun to the chest. Just because it were common as mud and worked satisfactorily doesn’t mean it were inherently good.)
But in the end.
There is other ways to approach the e-waste issue and get more sustainable results. Be it an electronics tax on products to subsidize local recycling efforts. Or better incentive towards the second hand market, or make requirements on reparability for future products on the market.
Legally requiring one specific port isn’t the right solution to the problem it proposes to fix. And the issues it creates in its wake isn’t something the market as a whole, both companies and consumers should be fond of.
I know of very few people who has issues with what port their phone has. I however know plenty of people who scrap their phone for minor issues that could have been solved if spare parts were available or if reparability even were the slightest consideration in its design.
And with the added complexities of USB-C, a lack of reparability is even more easily defended by manufacturers. Be it through the wild increase in pin count, or safety concerns regarding fires and fast charging. Manufacturers have plenty of reasons to lobby for their cause in suppressing general reparability.
It generally doesn’t matter if there is 3 or 5 different connectors on the market. If the devices are more repairable, then they don’t turn into waste in 2-3 years. I can however agree that it would be more problematic if each manufacturer had their own set of connectors, like what used to be the case 15 to 25 years ago.
Or to sum up this whole comment in exceptional short words:
The proposed legislation is ineffective at achieving its goal at reducing e-waste. Other methods exist that reaches the goal of reducing e-waste far more effectively while not stifling innovation within the field.
The connectors aren’t the problem, the largely unrepairable devices they are part of is the problem…
#2, there already is a backward compatible config so you can just cut the end off other USB and solder on a C. I’m doing that now with a lot of my devices.
#5. I think you mean arcing not arching :)
Yes, USB is rather compatible with itself. That isn’t a major issue.
And obviously we have issues with connectors shooting out arrows, might take someone’s eyes out! But yes, I do mean arcing, not arching.
And the worst thing is, if we leave out the phablet, that most equipment would be much better off with a 5.5mm barrel connector, and especially if the regulation is on-board, thus accepting a wider input voltage (making battery backup much easier.).
A good example of this misunderstanding is the RaspberryPi with the finicky USB connector, and a very squeamish attitude towards voltage.
And let me remember, this is Hackaday, but if USB-C is something, then it is by no way hacker friendly, with far to small pins etc.
I’d like to as that others here are going on about 48v and 100W but anyone else remember the fiasco with the Pixel? https://liliputing.com/2015/11/not-all-usb-type-c-cables-are-equal-a-googler-tells-you-which-to-avoid.html
Do you trust Chinese knockoff cables to not fry your phone? One of the advantages of Apple lightning is that they are more regulated and one doesn’t have to consult a spreadsheet made by google employees when buying charging cables off Amazon.
Okay, except that knock-off lightning cables appeared within a couple of months of Apple’s original release, so I’m not sure it’s much of an advantage at all.
I’d also note something that a few people aren’t apparently aware of with USB-C and that’s USB-PD: any cable over 15W has to implement USB-PD which requires the exchange of x509 certificates and device capabilities, with the capability of the power consuming device to include revocation mechanisms to detect and reject (or only work to 15W) cables which fail this authentication.
Specs are here: https://usb.org/document-library/usb-power-delivery
I actually find it rather amusing: when I looked into this a couple of years ago, I found some manufacturers embedding ARM Cortex-M0’s in their controllers designed to be implemented in cables. The idea of my cable having a 32 bit microcontroller and an embedded RTOS really amused me.
Yes, it is rather silly how complicated the cables can get.
It wouldn’t be particularly hard for the source to inform the device of how many volts it provides. And if the device measures noticeably less than that, then the cable might be junk.
Measuring cable length is also somewhat trivial. The communication line used for negotiating power can simply have a ping feature that is compared to a fairly high frequency timer. Ie, we know if the cable is 30 cm or 2 meters.
If the cable is long, a larger voltage drop would be acceptable, but a too large voltage drop means that the cable is made with lackluster conductors. Short term high current operation isn’t too problematic, heat takes time to build up, and out detection system is likely going to notice in sufficiently short order to see that the cable isn’t of suitable quality.
You’re absolutely right, but when the cable has the ability to burn your house down, the measures that USB-PD have taken start to seem very sensible. In the mains voltage space, and especially in countries which have 220V-240V, regulation has actually been surprisingly successful. I’m sure some people will have a philosophical disagreement with the statement that any regulation is good, and I totally agree – especially in my country – that some of the provisions need work, especially around electrical licensing. But generally, the statistics from the fire services and insurance industry suggest it works without excessive direct or hidden cost.
The problem is that they don’t scale down well to low voltage charger cables.
That’s why the cable and charger authentication schemes have been introduced, although I do have concerns about the robustness of the certificate revocation mechanisms. I don’t have a great solution to that other than what they’ve done. I believe there is work around using time-domain reflectometry (the technique you described above) and checking of a cable’s assertions vs. measuring the actual cable itself, and with the cost of mixed-signal controllers which can do this dropping, it seems like a viable approach. It could also detect cable damage.
To me, this is cool tech. Also to me, I really worry about chips in cables from the security standpoint, and them being really great places to store and launch malware and other attacks. More work to be done, clearly.
I would argue that a risk of fire is usually fairly easily avoided by rather basic means. And far too many places likes to skimp on the cost of cables and run them a bit hotter than what could be argued as safe or even efficient.
Also, 220-240 volt regions of the world went around a major part of electrical fires by just not having as much current for getting the same power. Arcing isn’t actually a typical source of fires. It is more often overloaded cables catching fire from charring insulation, especially when lumped together inside a wall. (or from the device on the end of the cable catching fire.)
I personally wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if it is easier to just measure the cable compared to integrating a chip into the cable stating arbitrary facts that one has no method of validating. A cheap cable can lie. And making a complex DRM scheme seems even more silly.
Adding the measurement capabilities on the device side wouldn’t be particularly expensive. Likely cheaper than integrating a chip into a cable, since connecting wires is more fiddly than adding a chip to a board. (and the cable would get cheaper too, or have thicker wires while reaching the same price.)
For the application we also do not need particularly high accuracy. Since we know the initial voltage without any major load, and the voltage when loading it down. The PSU will ave to offer us a measurement on its side as well, since the voltage output of a PSU is typically not perfectly flat in respect to an increasing output current.
If this measurement is having a lackluster accuracy of 5%, then it is sufficient for the application. Resolution also isn’t a major concern, a 12 bit ADC is likely overkill. (for a range of 0-50 volts, 12 bits gives us 12.2mV steps, this is rather sufficient.) Linearity is also not that majorly important, nor is measurement speed.
Measuring the current can be even less accurate.
In the end we just need a spec of x W per meter of cable. 1 W/m is fairly acceptable, but preferably we want a lot less.
And the advantage of measuring the cable is that it can’t lie.
Hackaday should host a ‘USB alternatives’ event where we can review the new and improved designs from all those hackaday commenters out there who are clearly holding back on their ingenious improvements. I really want to see these high current connectors and the higher bandwidth. I want to see the power control, how to manage the current. I want to see OEM deals with chip companies so we can all use these innovations!
To be fair, make the USB-C connector a bit wider.
Put in room for two more differential pairs.
Space the differential pairs out from each other by using a ground pin.
And then add two nice large power pads in the center of the connector on either side.
So that the end connector has a pinout of:
G Tx G Rx G [Extra clearance] Power [Extra clearance] G Tx G Rx G
G Rx G Tx G [Extra clearance] Power [Extra clearance] G Rx G Tx G
Preferably the cable’s high data rate pins shouldn’t really have a strict “Tx/Rx” labeling, preferably the pair placement shouldn’t be defined. Ie, Tx0 on one end of the cable could lead to Rx3 on the other, and the polarity could have swapped. (since we can fix pair ordering and polarity rather trivially on the other end. Though, it is nice if a Tx lane always is an output, and vice versa.) Reason for not caring about the pairs and polarity is to reduce the manufacturing costs of the cable. Keeping track of 8 twisted pairs is more fiddly then just being able to more or less put them wherever.
Where the typical pin pitch is 0.5mm, preferably with 0.25mm of clearance between pins.
And the extra clearance ones should probably be closer to 0.75mm of clearance between the ground and power pins there.
To aid with higher currents, we can make the power pins into a comb as to provide more contact points and less contact resistance. (since it is just a light spring force pushing the surfaces together, so it is more or less a point contact, not a screw squeezing the life out of it.)
Preferably we should have some negotiation pins as well for power.
So the connector likely gets:
G Tx G Rx G N0 G [Extra clearance] P P P [Extra clearance] G N1 G Tx G Rx G
G Rx G Tx G N1 G [Extra clearance] P P P [Extra clearance] G N0 G Rx G Tx G
Connector width of about 12mm for the pins, maybe 13.5-15mm including the casing on the plug end.
Where the negotiation procedure should likely be as simple as possible.
One Idea I have had is that the device that is willing to source power applies a voltage to N0 of 5v.
The other side then pulls this voltage low in a serial fashion, simple 10kHz binary data. Open drain.
When a sink device is established, it provides 5 volt on the N1 pins for the source to communicate back to the load.
The data protocol itself is however another question to consider.
But it could be a simple packetized format where the source states its capabilities, and the load states its desires, and then they meet at the highest voltage that they both can handle.
The N0 pin should be physically shorter than the other pins. As to disconnect first.
Both the the source and load should always pulse their respective pins at 1kHz as to inform that the link is intact.
When this pulse disappears on N0, the source knows that the connection is about to be broken, and the source can now do everything in its capabilities to try to mitigate a spark from occurring by bringing its output voltage down bellow 10 volts.
The protocol used for sending the data can be a simple 8/9 encoding with a parity bit, where an all zero package as a 1 as parity, then our link will always pulse and stay synchronized as well. Bitrate can be 10kHz as to be fairly immune to noise. And the actual protocol will need some further considerations.
Steady state output voltage can be the typical 5 volts.
With 6 total power pins, the contact resistance should be 50% lower than current USB-C, we could throw in another pair if we want it to be even more overkill, but that adds another 0.5mm of width to our already somewhat wide connector. But idealistically, this should be able to handle 6-7 amps just fine. And the extra space around the power pins should allow for safe (short free) operation at 48 volts. So 300 watts should be doable.
I think you’re making a sarcastic comment mocking people who don’t support the EU’s decision? If not, ignore the rest of this comment, since that’s what I’m replying to.
Just because I can’t think of a better alternative doesn’t mean there can’t be one. It also doesn’t mean that there can’t be a product that has a need for something different.
Most unreliable phone charger connector I’ve ever had around here in 30 years. Not sufficiently physically robust for the rated current.
Agreed. These connectors are trash, so are the ports.
Curious how differently people can experience things. USB-C ports have been far more reliable for me than previous phone charger connectors. Micro USB was ok, but quite flimsy, at least it was mostly the cable side that broke; Sony connectors were a joke, basically a butt connection held in place by plastic tabs; Samsung didn’t have a standard between even its own devices; Nokia was alright but the cables tended to break.
C has been a lot better than micro for me. micro was too flimsy and both cables and the port on devices had broken. mini was better.
I would like it if all my cars would use the same cruise control buttons, but do we really need the government making rules for such things?
I think life will be just fine if Apple and Samsung use whatever phone chargers they see fit.
Yes, it is needed. Just wondering, are you too young to have experienced the world before charger standardisation?
It was bad. Really bad.
Every time you got a new phone and wanted a spare charger to use on the road, you had to buy a completely new one.
These days, you can go to a supermarket and get ‘a charger’ there, and use it for several completely different phones. New phone? You don’t have to buy a new spare charger, and some phones even come without a charger because you can just use your current one.
Both as a quality of life thing, as well as an environmental thing (you really were throwing away perfectly fine chargers every 3 or 4 years back in the day!) it is beneficial to everyone except to Apple who wants to ruin it for everyone.
Cars also have LOTS of mandatory standardisation in them. Don’t compare it to the cruise control, but to stuff like the filler neck of your gas tank. Those are a specific size so you can fill up your car at all gas stations!
Imagine if it wouldn’t be mandated. You would have to get gasoline filler adapters, or get gas stations that have to offer 12 different nozzles making a pump more expensive. Or you gotta drive all the way to the other side of the city to find that one gas station that has a nozzle that fits your perhaps somewhat older car…
Yes, and less gas would be sold and complaints would arise everywhere. A self-correcting problem.
That people are unhappy enough to complain does not automatically cause a correction.
Often, nothing changes at all, and people continue to be unhappy.
At some point, the cost of complying with the EU’s onerous regulations is going to exceed the benefit of doing business there.
USB-C is what happens when a standards committee says, “Mutphy’s Law? Who ever heard of that?”
If you think having a drawer full of cables with different connectors is bad, wait until you have a drawer full of cables with identical connectors but different internal wiring.
And wait until you don’t realise, because as an Apple user it never occurred to you that some idiot would make wires with matching connectors that weren’t compatible.
Not to mention USB-C ports on products.
When one sees a USB-C port, what does it actually support?
It could be USB, it could be some display port or another, it might be a charging port, it might have support for thunderbolt, it might not do any of that and do something different.
Nor can one really force manufacturers to support everything on all its ports. Like all ports on a computer might not be reasonable to use as charging ports, or display ones, or thunderbolt for that matter.
But what happens in the future when even more new features comes around?
In my own regard, it were better when there were dedicated ports for each job. Even if it is nice to have USB-C as a charging port on a laptop and share it with one’s phone. But it is likely better to let the market handle itself in this regard.
After all, 15-25 years ago, there were far far more competing standards and connectors on the market. Even serial (RS232) has like 5 different appearances in common use… Though, the DB9 is more or less the standard.
The market tends to stride towards convenience unless new features are deemed more important. And the market more or less naturally switches between those two stances as needed. Little reason to stifle this through legal action.
After all, the market can only really migrate to a new port if a new port exists and has proven its capabilities in practice. And a new port can only start existing and prove itself on the market if it is allowed to exist on said market. A law that out right prevents it from existing is thereby stifling innovation.
The law does not prevent companies from putting other connectors on their devices. If something better comes along then it can most certainly be adopted.
USB has had conversion dongles forever, whatever the next thing is, there will be a cheap USB dongle for it.
Perhaps you can be in charge of figuring out what we are all supposed to do with our piles of old device chargers. Can we just drop them off at your house?
I already have quite some USB-C stuff and i don’t have that issue.
I can use the docking station of my Dell laptop to connect the peripherals to the laptop. It sends video, power and USB over the USB-C connector.
But i can plug that same cable into my Motorola phone to charge it.
Charging a phone VS hooking up a laptop to a docking station. Two completely different applications, but USB-C does both.
As a side note – the usb-c socket in the laptop isn’t really up to the job. Because the cable is stiff and heavy, at my place of work there are quite some issues with the socket giving intermittent connections after a few years of use. The barrel connectors are much more reliable for powering the laptop because they can rotate in their socket, if the cable moves around.
With phones, i haven’t had any problems with usb-c. Phone chargers have much thinner, more bendy cables that don’t put as much force on the socket.
For clarity’s sake – the laptop has both the USB-C docking station connector that does power, but also has a barrel connector if you don’t have/use the docking station.
“ the aim of reducing considerably the quantity of e-waste generated”
What waste? Oh, my perfectly good Apple cables which the EU want me to throw away.
“Overpriced cables” … which ones? A good lightning cable seems to be cheaper than a good USB-C.
Sorry, but this is a solution in search of a problem. Apple have stuck with lightning not because they hate USB – iPads have USB-C, and MacBooks were the first laptops of any manufacturer to ship with old USB-C ports. Apple have stuck with lightning because it works, and because a billion customers (there’s over 1Bn active iPhones) will have to throw away many billions of perfectly good cables if the EU pass this law. Assuming each user has 2-3 cables, and each cable costs say £3, that’s in the region of £10Bn this law will cost end users. We should all mail our old lightning cables to the EU if they pass this, and let them deal with the waste.
One argument is the strength of the connector.
The old barrel connectors can be much cheaper and more durable than USB-C.
If they really want to eliminate waste then they are doing it wrong. All those USB-Micro and Lightning adapters will be sent to the dump.
Instead it should be USB-C for data, video and also as one of two methods of charging. (That’s write, video is in there, it’s a sneaky way to make them include video output on all devices). The second charging method is a pair of binding posts on every phone. That way you can just cut the connector off any of those old chargers and put the wire straight into the binding post.
Lightning adapters were designed to go to the dump anyway :)
NO. The only real way to reduce ewaste is to reduce frivolous consumption (and in effect, production). Most people at this point have been brainwashed to replace their expensive electronics every two years.
But unfortunately you can’t legislate away stupidity. Also, the global economic system would likely collapse if people got a bit smarter with not buying useless stuff.
Keeping their products updated, or at least allowing the consumer to would go a long ways towards curtailing the replacement cycle.
While some of it I would agree is frivolous consumption when these things are not designed to be repairable, and rather delicate really its not all the users fault they have to buy a new one – separating the two isn’t easy and its also far from trivial as a user to know which product to buy so you won’t need a new one a year later because the ‘unreplaceable’ battery is dead, or that model is about to discontinued so the spare parts dry up etc.
It shouldn’t be nearly that bad for the global economic system – as long as it isn’t 100% instant change, as keeping expensive electronics going will require spare parts – so a transition time to making more of the commonly broken or consumable parts keeps production centres working, doing manufacturer repair centres (as well as selling parts hopefully) keeps some money moving around and the functionality of your old devices high.
Plus the probably longer cycle between new devices means the design team will have lots of time to actually test prototypes properly, and put better design for repair and recycling into it – as they have the time to make it mass produced easily, and repaired easily – both directions now profitable for the company. Also if the device will last you decades, and you know it being asked to pay higher ticket prices for it becomes more reasonable.
One example I would site is DSLR producers will service and keep even my very old camera going if I want to pay for it (or at least Canon do, but I think most of the other big names do it too, Canon is just the only brand I’ve ever had interactions with – and that only because its the one Dad had one so I could ‘steal’ his lens) – profits for them as the service charge (while now probably more than the older camera body is worth) is about what you would expect, and keeps the device functioning. No reason most tech can’t be doing the same thing and making money from maintaining/restoring for your their device – I’d personally like to have access to the manual and parts stream to do it myself, but still repair is good. Also must point out I’ve not dealt with Canon service folk for a pretty long time, maybe the service isn’t as good as it was…
“The USB-C port is tough…”
Well, not quite. The male connector acts like a fuse. It breaks easily.
I just discover that on my thinkpad t490.
Unfortunatly Lenovo doesn’t alloq an easy way to repair/replace the cable or connector. But this little inconvenient pushed me to learn about usb-c protocol and pinout.
Good thing also, that i can use any 20V usb-c charger with my laptop, but just in case, check if it supports the other voltages before you plug in your phone.
But, i still believe that the cable should be easier to replace…
I have wall outlets with USB C PD connectors built right in. They charge Every USB device I own: phones, laptops, battery packs, flashlights, headphones, etc.
I must be doing USB wrong because it all just works for me. I got rid of all those stupid chargers and USB cables, I have just a couple of cables that work for everything. I have a dongle for the old stlink debugger but otherwise this new USB stuff is totally smooth.
I was trying to get one of those, but cound’t find a 65w usb c pd charger in my country. All of them have non repleaceable cables
Motorola even went so far as to create a proprietary version of micro USB that had two pins bridged together in the plug, a standard micro USB cable wouldn’t charge the phone.
I think it was actually that the spec called for a 200 ohm resistor across the data leads to enable some form of higher power charging, and Moto just shorted them. Somewhere online are my instructions for making solder bridges on car chargers to enable moto charging.
We can’t even have a universal 12V connector that works and is child-dime proof. No smoking accessories please. This voltage source is like the 72VDC server room standard much more friendly and efficient to electronics than a power source made for ancient incandescent lamps and traction motors.
I have that same stupid Lenovo laptop charger with a permanently-attached USB C cable. It broke rapidly. All of my other chargers interface to cables with a jack.
While the connector might last for a time, and chargers may be something close to universal because more than 100 watts is likely to be a heat challenge for any portable device.
Data cables, though? I haven’t a clue if my current ones will work with my Threadripper motherboard’s 20 GB USB C ports. And 40 GB is coming. Also, Thunderbolt is there to confuse us all because some USB C ports have it implemented, and most don’t, and we are already up to 4 versions of it. Enjoy learning about the “billboard” device when your OS can’t cope with one.
I ended changing the broken connector on mine. But i tought about soldering a female usb-c to change cables easily
“laptop charger with a permanently-attached USB C cable”
Most cables won’t have all the wires/pins populated for the high power anyway, so it would lead the vast majority of users to confusion and complaint.
But with USB-C you can just use a different brand charger, right?
Seems ok. I’m wondering which direction the smartphone will go in from where it is. Unless we are talking tri-corder type device, perhaps some sort of industry specific device, how much more does the average consumer require a phone to do? As the smart phone might have an ‘end goal’ in performance/function, detatched from the business world that is, figure the best connector for that. From there, deal with the handful of years in e-waste from the switch over to whatever new standard there is, make really good chargers so as you have an option not to include a charger with a new product, as you already own one, perhaps save a little money and over the Long run, a lot of e-waste.
Funny how all the comments so far have been on WHAT is being standardized and missed the WHY.
The premise is to reduce the amount of wall warts manufactured and therefore (e-)wasted, but the standadization by itself won’t stop manufacturers from build new chargers; then this laws will cause a lot of misdirected discussions and wasted efforts just like we are seeing here, lol!
For me it itkes more sense the new laws to allow the phone manufacturers to sell their devices without a phone chargers (is some countries it is mandatory) but the manufactrers should also cooperate with that effort not charging (pun intended) a hundred dollars for a wall wart.
Aren’t all phone wall adapter equipped with either full size USB-A or USB-C connector? Even Apple ones?
And it’s that way for a while, I haven’t seen any wall adapters with micro USB?
With that in mind, what’s the problem with a proprietary cable and connector, for any electronic device? Push the idea of not giving the adapter, and giving a cable which is USB C compatible, there is no need in pushing the companies to fit a USB C connector to their products, as we don’t know what would be the next generation product…
The ones with USB-A are QC 1 to 5 (quick charge by qualcomm)
usb-c has a different protocol, so isn’t fully compatible. you can’t charge a 20V laptop with a QC4 charger for example.
The idea is to standarize the charging protocol besides the connector, becouse usb-c has a “profile” charging mode with 3 o 4 different voltages from 5 to 20v and 3 different max currents from 1 to 5amp.
so if all chargers are usb-c and all devices charge with usb-c your laptop
It’s pretty easy to get the law changes to allow them to sell the phone without a charger _after_ the scam of making them buy an expensive proprietary charger has been removed by requiring a standardized charging interface.
Those laws exist for real reasons, they weren’t just imagined by the clipboard fairy.
Safety is not an issue. Standards, testing, and liability ensure reputable manufacturers will produce safe product. The issue is that accessories are a large and profitable run-on market for the manufacturer, which promotes creating non-compatible solutions. Do not drink from the marketing trough and play a supporting role…
Where forced to comply with universal connectivity standards, the manufacturers will come up with loopholes… we will charge your phone/device/CAR for compliance sake but at a lesser rate than if you bought our charger. These chargers and most intelligent power sourcing equipment have a handshake that must be succesful to unleash full output.. Safety requires this… so why not use it to dumb down the output for 3rd party devices. Altruism is not a corporate trait.
The ‘Motorola V3’ charger shown above was *not* proprietary, that’s USB-Mini, the basic charging standard before -Micro came along.
if they wanted to do something that would impact wast many many times more than making a standard charger – the would mandate that phones had to have replaceable batteries!
Being able to keep the same charger while you cycle through phones doesn’t make sense to me, wouldn’t it be better if both your phone and charger lasted quite a while instead of having built in obsolescence in the phone??
Yes, the charger is far from the most problematic part of the equation. Phones are somewhat notorious for wearing out and getting thrown away. Replaceable batteries would likely go a long way towards fixing that issue.
All though, I can see some reasons behind manufacturers not directly wanting to ensure the ease of swapping out a battery. Water proofing becomes a fair bit harder, and making a sleek design as well. Two things that a fair few consumers value quite highly.
But if batteries were better available for the 3rd party repair market, then this alone could easily help fix this issue.
In short, I wouldn’t be the slightest surprised if the right to repair movement results in a larger reduction of e-waste, compared to mandating a charge port.
How much longer could a phone last? Pyhsically, it doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue yet. I have a few phones that are in great shape, but the ever changing software side of the internet/cellular technology is making them obsolete. In my opinion only, the closer the smartphone gets to it’s pinnacle of evolution, the more manufacturers are going to have to turn to software advances to turn a profit. Chip manufacturers might have skin in that game as well. To regulate that is a seriously steep uphill battle, where phone chargers and the like, is a slightly less steep uphill battles to fight. As far a e-waste goes, a study of landfills, second hand stores, junk drawers and your average persons container that holds cables, chargers, maybe back up headphones is a pretty good start on where to begin with waste issues. I would toss remotes in there, maybe.
Just a quick comment, standards are a good thing, out dated standards not so much, Europe, if they haven’t already, set up a standards authority to review standards every 5 years.
LOL @ breakdown of people by connector type.
I have a USB-C phone and I miss USB Mini-B. IMO there was no need for MicroUSB let alone USB-C, the Mini-B connector was far more durable than MicroUSB ever has been, and the “issues” that led to USB-C were firmly in the category of First World Problems. Take an aspirin and get over it lol.
Anyone else getting “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly ” vibes? Cue up the Ennio Morricone
Lightening is USB2, so uhm, yeah.
For what it’s worth, I think this is going to play right into Apple’s hand, with their insatiable appetite for “innovation”. Seeing how they had no qualms screwing everyone with the headphone jacks, this is just what they need to make away with the cable port altogether and mandate wireless charging going forward.
On a side note, Type-C looks good for the future. The latest specs of data speed and power seem to me enough to satisfy our progressing needs for the next 10 years.
At the same time, I think it would be in our interest to unify power/charging and data across the board. Make a cable that satisfies both USB and Etherner/PoE specs. In the end, it’s all data+power going down the pipes. There’s already HDMI+Ethernet cables around, and HDMI over Thunderbolt (with a Type-C shaped port) so we could use the digital lines in the new standard for digital video too. And and a couple of analog lines, for analog audio (so that a dumb adapter can run legacy headphones). The networking guys would throw a major fit, but it would be easy to mass produce cheap RJ45 to Type-C adapters and SFP modules.
USB-C connectors can still be pretty flimsy. My first phone with USB-C had a broken connector after a few weeks of use.
That’s why I switched to magnetic connectors so I reduced the wear of the connector in the phone (wear of cable is not an issue, I can buy a new cable).
Why isn’t there a standard for magnetic USB connectors? Especially for data rates higher than USB2.0. I haven’t seen those yet.
USB-C -> more poor design SW -> less reliability
World 1st USB-C on iPhone. Just posted.
quote ” Apple owners do what they’ve always done and pretend that Steve Jobs invented USB”?
Not sure what Jenny meant by this as I have never met an Apple owner that has ever said or I suspect thought that and find this comment surprising considering their efforts to retain the Lightening connector when other manufacturers scrabbled to fit fragile USB sockets.
USB has always been a horrible choice on any electrical equipment due to the fragility of the connector and them getting ripped off the PCB.
Apples Lightening cables did a much better job of simplicity (reversible), ruggedness and reliability (when you picked out the invariable compacted fluff that tends to occur) and interface options over the Mini and Micro USB alternatives and bear in mind it came out some years before USB-C.
Clearly the world isn’t going to put Lightening connectors on all non-Apple phones and so long as USB-C is able to be implemented without introducing this fragility or mean Apple have to pay someone royalties lol then it is a good choice and I would happily get rid of my Lightening connector on my future iPhone.
“While iPhone users regard their Lightning connector as the ultimate in connectivity”.
Maybe ones exist, and I’m sure in their spare time self-flaggelation is also a massive hobby for them. The majority of us have no love for that horrible connector, as much as the Apple fanboys love to claim reversibility was some amazing innovation (no, it wasn’t), or that it’s really rugged (definitely NOT my experience), it’s just a typical vendor-lock. Bring on USB-C.
The Trouble with USB-C is that although the connector is standard the cables are not – they support a wide range of maximum power and do very badly at identifying what they can transfer. People will be confused and disappointed when they try to charge their laptop with a cheap phone charging cable for example.
The USB-C connector is „tough“? I guess I have different USB-C connectors than the author.
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