Universal phone chargers to appear early next year

European cellphone users could soon be traveling a little lighter, with the release of a technical specification for a universal charger.

In June last year, fourteen phone manufacturers agreed in principle to make smartphone chargers interchangeable. With the release of the specification by standards bodies CEN-CENELEC and ETSI, products could be on the market within the next few months.

“I am very happy that the European Standardisation Bodies have met our request to develop within a short space of time the technical standards necessary for a common mobile phone charger based on the work done by industry,” said EC vice-president Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship.

“Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste and benefit businesses. It is a true win-win situation.”

The EU points out that charger incompatibility ins’t just a headache for users – it’s also a major environmental issue. People change their phone more and more often, ending up throwing away perfectly functional chargers.

The new technical specifications give details of an interface based on a micro-USB connector. They take account of safety risks and electro-magnetic emissions and, says the EU, make sure that common chargers are sufficiently immune to external interference.

The initiative is supported by Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile, Texas Instruments and Atmel.