Cell phone chargers in uniform by 2012

Meliza Solan Surdi · February 18, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/6e3

Phonemakers ring in change and take charge

Sounds too good to be true.

By 2012, most mobile phones will have universal chargers, according to the GSM Association, which is leading the initiative. This is good news for anyone, who's collected a box full of old phones - many of which have their own distinct charger. 

One study showed that every 20 months, as many as 51 million cellphone chargers become obsolete! 

It's no wonder the mobile-phone industry group said that cell-phone charges currently generate more than 51,000 tons of waste annually.

To put that into perspective, that's about 625 San Francisco cable cars or 250 Statue of Liberties! 

To that end, and not to mention the hassle consumers face from having so many disparate chargers from having to buy a new one with each new phone, one universal charger based on the Micro-USB interface will soon (err, as early as the end of the year) be available.

The new device is expected to affect the environment in a very positive way. At least Rob Conway, chief executive of GSM Asscociation, thinks so. He told the Associate Press: "The mobile industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling environmental issues and this program is an important step that could lead to huge savings in resources, not to mention convenience for consumers."

Seventeen operators and handset makers apparently have the same vision as they agreed to standardize chargers for the majority of cell phones being shipped. The carriers are Vodafone,T-Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Samsung Electronics, Nokia, Motorola, and AT&T.

These companies are not just thinking about planet earth. The plan is to save money as well.

The new charger is cheaper to make and results in a smaller, less heavy box, which reduces shipping costs and storage costs, Dean Bubley, of Disruptive Analysis told CNet, a couple years ago. Yes, Bubley said this a couple years ago. It was in 2007, in fact, that many phone carrires had already agreed to the Micro-USB as the future charger.

Now while the first chargers are expected to be shipped out this year, it'll take another three years before we see it in the hands of most mobile phone users. That's five years in total since the carriers agreed! 

Why will it take so seemingly long? The new standardized chargers are supposed to have shared USB interface and also meet higher energy-efficiency targets, with as much as 50% energy savings. Chargers take in a certain amount of energy, and not every phone has been set up to take in the same amount as another phone. So besides the fact that the carriers are all converting to using a USB charger, they will probably have to modernize the battery and reconstruct the whole design of a phone as well. I guess taking five years to get most phones unified makes sense (though, admittedly, I'm not an expert).

Now let's just hope the vision will carry forward to laptops, mp3 players, and iPods too! 

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