Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The EU is targeting companies including Google and Microsoft
The European Commission has told smartphone makers to adopt USB-C cables across the EU, after a study found flaws in USB-C technology.
It’s already being used in many of the world’s smartphones, but cheaper cables with different connectors are common in Europe.
EU spokesman Alexander Winterstein said: “There is no right or wrong way to connect a laptop to a device.”
The USB-C technology uses a special and reversible connector rather than the older 30-pin connector which has become very popular over the last decade.
A notice of intent, or action notice, was sent to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Huawei, Dell, Alcatel, HP, Microsoft, Amazon, Lenovo, Asus, HTC, Toshiba, Gigabyte, MSI, Dell, Arrow, Logitech, B&O, SteelSeries, Onkyo, Razer, Epson, Razer, Libratone, Wacom, Magmic, ZTE, Sony, Kyocera, Displaymate, iMobie, LifeProof, Flextech, Enlightened, Foxconn and many other manufacturers.
The document said older cables and chargers were undermining the conformity of mobile devices “to the current EU standard and therefore not being used legally”.
It urged companies to support USB-C across Europe and save consumers money.
The EU has also called on other countries to be more cautious in their use of older connectors.
Consumer watchdog Which? said an analysis of 11 devices, including three Samsung and five Android smartphones, all had different types of USB-C cables, which were then charged using the wrong connector.
On top of that, Apple’s £156 Apple iPhone X had two types of cables with apparently opposing pins, while Google’s £154 Pixel phone had two, with one placed on the same plug socket as the other.
Samsung’s main charger also has two different pins, which could cause problems if the device is plugged into one socket and then used in another.
How USB-C works
USB-C technology is crucial in many smartphone models that use faster “USB Type-C” ports, which can support higher speeds.
But some users have been urging manufacturers to make their new connectors compatible with older 30-pin plugs.
The post-USB port
In order to connect smartphones to one or more computers, users must plug in USB-C or a USB Power Adapter (USB-PPA).
This needs to be connected to an older plug, which, if the user has a USB 3.0 USB-C cable, they will plug in as well.
This process means gadgets can connect to other accessories at the same time, such as a printer.
There are several variations of USB-C, such as USB 3.1 Gen1.
Please note USB-C technology can only be used with a cable with a pin that has exactly the same number of pins as the mother-jack port of a 30-pin port – so products with two micro-USB pins cannot be connected to a 30-pin port.
Please refer to the TV Guide for full specifications.
The legal protection
The EU is not suggesting a whole-system change of connectors and cables.
On the contrary, the legal protection is to make sure that new devices cannot be used with third-party devices, even if it is legal.
The EU says that despite manufacturers claiming otherwise, some current cables and chargers are not compliant, which could cause problems if there is a sudden plug-out.
Non-compliance also means the charger and adaptor will not work with a computer, which might require a hard reboot, says the Commission.
The fine for companies that do not comply with the action notice is just “several euros”.
For more details and a list of those affected, click here .
Mylo Nadov, head of research and development at the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), told the BBC many people still used the 30-pin standard.
“The problem is of course when these plugs are put in again, such as if there’s a void in the socket – where plug ends are not aligned – but we know that USB-C technology is much more robust than what we were using a few years ago,” he said.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The USB-C technology uses a special and reversible connector rather than the older 30-pin connector
Mr Nadov said the move would help users get the benefits of a more robust device.
He said that because of software updates that even helped the devices to receive security updates, which sometimes will close