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Switzerland Wants a Single, Universal Phone Charger by 2017

Lightning cables need not apply.
Image: Richard Unten/Flickr.

Apple's Lightning cable cartel be damned: Switzerland is moving forward with a plan for a single, universal phone charger across the country, standardizing phone chargers across the board. While the exact standard hasn't been mentioned yet, it wouldn't be hard to guess the standard: Micro USB, used across phone platforms, most especially Android, which has a gigantic chunk of the cell phone market worldwide.


Apple charges third-party Lightning cable manufacturers a licensing fee to certify that their cables meet technical standards. The company recommends that consumers only purchase these certified cables to minimize the chance of damage to their device.

"The standardisation efforts specified in the new legal basis concern, among other things, mobile telephones and other devices which will have to be compatible with a universal charger by mid-2017 at the latest," the Swiss government said in a press release. "This measure will reduce the quantity of chargers and therefore the amount of electronic waste."

It's a move the European Union has previously voted for, and Switzerland is bringing itself in line with those regulations. Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, but is a frequent trading partner with the Eurozone. Rather than replace the Lightning cable, though, Apple suggested it would instead introduce a Lightning-to-Micro-USB adapter. It sells a similar device for $19, though it would come included with iPhones shipped to the European Union.

However, in computing devices, Apple has recently loosened its grip on proprietary chargers. More recent models of the MacBook Air utilize USB-C chargers rather than the magnetic power adapters used the last few years. But early talk on the iPhone 7 indicates that the company will strive for wireless charging, putting a potential kink in plans for a universal phone charger. Unless, of course, other manufacturers like Samsung adopt the same standard, which assumes a lot about Apple relinquishing control of its proprietary hardware.

This article was updated on December 28 to correct an erroneous reference to digital rights management with respect to Apple's Lightning cables.