Cellphones to Get Common Chargers, But Not Apple iPhone

Handset makers likely responding to government pressure

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We might finally be getting some recharger relief: Major cellphone makers say they'll adopt a common connector for charging cables. That'll cut down on the hundreds of millions in chargers that get tossed every year when we buy new phones.

The new chargers will also be more energy efficient, the trade group GSMA said at a conference in Europe.

The direct benefit to consumers is convenience and cost. Handset makers have stuck to proprietary connectors because of the money made from selling chargers at steep mark-ups. The BBC reports that the industry is likely caving to pressure from European regulators:

Manufacturers had been under pressure from the European Commission to produce a standardised charger. EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told German radio station Deutsche Welle last week that there were more than 30 different kinds of charger in use across the 27-nation European Union.

And before we get too excited, the goal is only to have "a majority" of new chargers using the universal connector by 2012. The group settled on the Micro-USB cables that a number of phones already use.

The group notably does not include Apple, whose iPhone is the hottest smartphone in many markets. Notes AppleInsider:

[Apple's] ubiquitous dock connector was introduced on the third-generation iPod in 2003 and has appeared on every iPod and iPhone since. By the time of the 2012 deadline, the dock connector will have been around for almost a decade.

The agreement does cover other leading manufacturers, including Nokia, Samsung, LG and Motorola.