Neville Hobson

Freedom from charger entanglement

chargersIf you have lots of mobile and other portable devices as I do, I bet you have a lot of chargers to go with them, undoubtedly one charger per device.

I just did a quick count around the office: ten devices  – mobile phones, portable drives, Kindles, wifi kit, etc – and twelve chargers (I guess I no longer have the devices two chargers came with).

It’s the bane of modern connected life as the connection points are usually different for each device, and chargers often have different electrical outputs. And most frequently, chargers don’t say what they’re for – a nightmare when you encounter loads of them together with no idea which one matches which device.

In early 2009, I wrote about plans announced by GSMA, the mobile industry trade body, for a universal mobile phone charger, ensuring that the mobile industry adopts a common format for mobile phone charger connections and energy-efficient chargers.

A great idea, meaning that there would be a common standard across mobile phones and the charging devices you connect to them – what works on one phone will work on another.

I’ve never heard more about this idea. In the meantime, more and more mobile phones and other devices come to markets worldwide, together with a charger for each device.

Mobile operator O2 may have hit the solution on the head, as it were, with their idea for a way out of this entanglement – offer new mobile devices with no charger at all.

Instead, you’d use one of the chargers you already have! As O2 explains:

[…] our research shows the UK has more than 100m chargers lying in drawers, tangled in cupboards and generally gathering dust. The majority of phones are now upgrades and chargers that use USB cables are now widely used, meaning the bit of plastic that plugs into the wall can actually be used by pretty much every phone.

It’s to do with a new HTC smartphone – some are dubbing it “the flagship HTC smartphone” – that O2 will be launching in the UK soon. It will come with just a USB charging cable, no plug, that you can connect to a suitable plug you probably already have. Looking at all my chargers, I can see over half of them are USB of one type or another, with mini- and micro-USB prevalent, and some with fully-detachable standard cables. I bet that’s reflective of many other people up and down the country.

If you don’t have anything suitable right now, O2 says it will sell you a charger at cost.

Makes sense and it’s a great move. Oh, but not regarding the iPhone, especially the new iPhone 5.

I’m sure it will all do fine until wireless charging arrives.

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