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Volume IconHow will 'one charger for all' affect you and device makers?

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is evaluating the possibility of a common charger for most mobile devices. Let's find out how consumers and device-makers will be affected if the policy is implemented

ImageBhaswar Kumar New Delhi


You may no longer have to untangle your separate laptop, smartphone and tablet chargers. Or have to remember carrying them around. The government is setting up expert groups to look into the adoption of common chargers for mobiles and all portable electronic devices. Subsequently, a detailed report is scheduled to be submitted in two months.

Last week on Wednesday, the department of consumer affairs met industry stakeholders regarding such a policy. After the meeting, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said that India could initially explore shifting to two types of chargers, including a C-Type port.

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The ministry’s move came days after a European Commission resolution that all smartphone makers would have to support USB-C as a single charging standard by 2024. This would apply to all mobile devices across EU nations. 

Under the new rule, European Block consumers would no longer require different charging devices and cables every time they purchase a new mobile phone. Also, the European law would reportedly end the need for providing chargers with new phones and similar devices since users would already have the necessary accessories. 

Depending upon the contours of the Indian policy, you might have a similar experience. For Indian consumers, such ease of use and charging won’t be limited just across different smartphones. This is indicated by the fact that separate expert groups will be set up to study charging ports used in three segments -- mobiles and feature phones, wearable devices, and laptops and tablets.  

A one-charger policy is also likely to find wide public support. Chargers and charging cables from the original equipment manufacturer can be expensive. According to a LocalCircles survey, nine in 10 consumers want the government to standardise charging cables for smartphones and tablets.
However, the India Cellular and Electronics Association has said that bringing in a common charger for mobile phones by migrating to only the USB type C port would raise the prices of low-end devices. While the price increase might not be too significant, the wafer-thin margins in that segment calls for consideration.

Faisal Kawoosa, Chief Analyst, Techarc says, some brands already have common smartphone and laptop chargers. One charger across devices will be user-friendly.

As reported by Business Standard, various industry bodies have urged the Consumer Affairs Ministry to not implement the common-charger policy until the European Union does the same. They want a closer examination of the regulation’s feasibility and the lessons that will be learned from the EU before any action back home. Industry bodies also called for thorough market and consumer research. 

According to ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo, India is home to a large charger-manufacturing base, which aspires to be a world leader in the sector. The policy could affect the promising industry with reduced domestic demand. Countries around the world possibly turning to common chargers could also impact their export potential.  
Experts believe that mandating only two types of chargers and a C-Type port for all devices would impact tech giant Apple the most, because it does not use a USB-C port for charging. Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Realme, which are the top five brands in the Indian market, use Type-C charging ports. Some entry-level smartphones and feature phones still use a micro-USB cable.  

Faisal Kawoosa of Techarc says, fast-charging point of differentiation due to use-cases like gaming. Charging technology could get outsourced to one or two players due to this policy. This won’t leave much room for differentiation.

To this end, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is also considering the environmental angle. According to the United Nations University, India generated more than 3,000 kilo tonnes of e-waste in 2019. Out of this, just 30 kilo tonnes were formally collected. A one-charger policy could prove to be a small, but not insignificant, step towards addressing this challenge.  

Topics :USBCablesEU

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First Published: Aug 22 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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