A new generation of smartphones capable of using the same charger - from manufacturers including Apple, Nokia and RIM - will begin appearing in the new year, following the release of European technical standards.
The standards, based on Micro-USB, have been welcomed today by the European Commission, which says they will be a boon for consumers and the environment.
Brussels called on manufacturers to honour a memorandum of understanding signed in mid-2009 pledging support for the common charger.
"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," said Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani.
"Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to our agreement and start selling mobile phones for the new charger. "
The full roster of manufacturers signed up to the MoU comprises Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, TCT Mobile (Alcatel), and Texas Instruments. Between them they make more than 90 per cent of smartphones sold in the EU, and the Commission hopes the inter-compatible charger will be predominant within two years.
The biggest smartphone maker that is not a signatory to the MoU is HTC.
"The environmental benefits of harmonising chargers are expected to be very important: reducing the number of chargers unnecessarily sold will reduce the associated generated electronic waste, which currently amounts to thousands of tons," the Commission said in a statement,
"Harmonised chargers are also expected to improve energy-efficiency, thus reducing energy consumption as they will comply with the newest European standards which resume the latest requirements on energy efficiency."
It added that the manufacturers are in discussions with non-EU standards bodies to adopt the same common charger specification in other markets. ®