Generalized USB-C port: what about wireless charging smartphones?

Brussels intends to impose USB-C as the standard port for connecting electronic devices. But the European Commission intends to leave the field open to wireless charging, in addition to or in place of USB-C.

The European Union is launching the battle for a truly universal charger, with the announcement of a revision of its directive on radio equipment. Concretely, this involves making USB-C the standard port for a large number of electronic products sold on the continent: smartphones, tablets, speakers, headphones, portable consoles and cameras, etc.

For this, the action launched by the Commission is based on three axes: first, a common charging port for electronic devices. Clearly, the physical connector on the products must be USB-C. Then, harmonization of the external power supply, to allow fast charging. Finally, the sale of the charger must be separated from the purchase of the electronic product.

The USB-C port of the Game & Watch Super Mario Bros.

What future for wireless charging?

But this offensive on wired charging may question the future of a wireless alternative, that is to say by induction, when the smartphone is placed on a suitable support. In this regard, the European Commission has provided details of its intentions, in a frequently asked questions published on September 23. In short, if Brussels intends to impose USB-C, it is not opposed to wireless charging.

Thus, the Commission underlines that its proposal “ does not set specific technical requirements for wireless charging “. Consequently, the industrialists ” remain free to incorporate any wireless charging solution into their products », Which is already the case in practice. For a few years now, there have been models capable of taking up the battery by cable or by being placed on a dedicated support.

Brussels leaves the field open to wireless charging, in addition to or to replace USB-C.

However, an uncertainty remained. How would this revised directive impact smartphones (or any other electronic product, for that matter) that only rely on wireless charging? Clearly, what about a smartphone that would no longer have any physical port, which would charge thanks to induction and would transfer data using wireless protocols (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)?

The Brussels FAQ states that if manufacturers want to integrate a wireless charging solution, they are free to do so ” in addition to wired charging via the USB-C port “. We have contacted the European Commission to remove any ambiguity on this subject, because the wording suggests that the sale of a mobile without any USB-C port would be impossible in Europe.

Devices that only charge wirelessly may escape USB-C

According to our information, the directive does not intend to block the prospect of 100% wireless smartphones, without any ports. In other words, manufacturers do not have the obligation to integrate a USB-C port, if they want to offer a completely different approach. If the electronic device only charges wirelessly, it is not necessary to integrate a USB-C charging port.

The USB-C port is only required if the device is capable of being charged via a wired connection. But in fact, if the 100% portless smartphone is not a problem, its support does need a wire to connect to a power outlet. However, this type of product does not appear in the list concocted by Brussels to impose USB-C.

The Vivo Apex 2019 made without a USB port // Source: Vivo

This subject is not trivial and could in fact impose itself in the years to come. A few brands have launched conceptual devices like the Vivo Apex 2019 and the Meizu Zero, oriented towards a horizon without any USB connector. An opportunity to survey the market and take the temperature. None, however, has really taken the plunge of such a radical break.

Apple, which is under pressure with its Lightning port, could take the opportunity to switch directly to an iPhone without any connector. Noises from the hallway indicate a project of this type. This is a turn that the company would be able to take: after all, it dared to leave the jack. For now, this 100% wireless iPhone is still theoretical. The latest models announced remain under Lightning.

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