Photo by comedy_nose via Flickr Creative Commons
Last May we heard that the European Union might require a universal charger for all cell phones, and last October we heard that just such a universal charger was devised, though would not be "forced" onto cell phone manufacturers. The idea is brilliant, though, since the GSMA estimates about 51,000 tons of redundant chargers are manufactured each year, and if universal chargers are adopted by cell phone manufacturers, we could drastically cut down that number. Luckily, it's not just the EU, but also companies like Apple, Nokia and RIM that recognize the intelligence of the idea and have signed on to it. The Register reports that standardized chargers will dominate in the cell phone industry in the next two years, noting that Apple, Nokia and RIM will all have phones out during 2011 that are capable of using the same charger to juice up via micro USB.
It's not just these three companies, however -- Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola, NEC, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile (Alcatel), and Texas Instruments are all on board to manufacture phones with micro USB charging within the next two years. This means far fewer redundant chargers manufactured, and a reduction in e-waste.
There are two small hiccups to note. It would make more sense for chargers to now be sold separately from phones, since you likely won't need a new one each time you upgrade cell phones. That would reduce the number of chargers in the world even more. And as Geek.com notes, "[W]hile all smartphones now have to be able to charge through micro-USB, they don't have to sync through it. So don't expect the mark up on proprietary cables to go away: companies are making a brisk trade of that, and wouldn't part with that slice of their business easily."
So while you can't necessarily sync your phone, you can be sure to be able to charge up in an emergency with someone else's charger.
It'll be a few years before we see the actual numbers resulting from this standardization, but we can be fairly certain it is going to be a boon for the environment no matter what.
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