India is considering following Europe’s example and making it mandatory for device manufacturers in the country to adopt a common charging port for all electronic devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Smartphone firms, along with their representative bodies, met with government officials on Wednesday to discuss the possibility, according to media reports. India will now set up expert groups to explore the adoption of common chargers for mobiles and all portable electronic devices, and submit a detailed report in two months, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said on Wednesday.
The expert groups will study charging ports used in three segments — smartphones and feature phones, laptops and tablets, and wearable electronic devices.
India is not the EU
In June, the European Union agreed to implement USB Type-C as the common standard for all mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and other small and medium-sized electronics, by Q3 2024. Laptop makers will have 40 months after the notification comes into force to adapt to the requirements.
However, industry executives told the Economic Times that it’s easy for Europe to mandate a common charging port, as more people in the EU can afford high-end devices. In India, a similar mandate would impact the production costs of budget feature phones that account for the majority of the market.
According to media reports, manufacturers will find it challenging to implement a common standard across different device types, as the charging standards are different for each.
In India, feature phone makers still use the micro-USB standard, whereas laptop makers rely on proprietary charging standards for budget and high-end gaming laptops.
IoT devices, including wearables, use both proprietary and legacy charging standards. Media reports noted that IoT makers will have to change their industrial and mechanical designs to accommodate the move, which will increase manufacturing costs that will be passed on to consumers.
A common charging port directive is also likely to impact Apple, which uses its own charging standard for MacBooks and iPhones.
Singh said India could initially explore shifting to two types of charging ports, including a USB Type-C port.
“It is a complex issue. India has a position in the manufacturing of chargers. We have to understand everybody’s perspective — industry, the users, manufacturers and environment — before taking a final decision,” he informed the media following a meeting with industry stakeholders.