iPhone's new Micro USB Adapter complies with EU charger standards
Apple has released a Dock-to-micro USB adapter as part of its compliance with new European Union standards for smartphone chargers. Apple signed an agreement in 2009 committing to honor the standard, which uses a charger that outputs 5V at 500mA and a cable that terminates in a micro USB plug.
The proposed standard would apply to any "data-enabled" phone, including all smartphones and many high-end feature phones. USB would be used for charging, and the micro USB connector—at the time already becoming a de facto standard on many smartphones—would be used on devices. "On principle, you would never have to buy a new charger again," EC Vice-President Günter Verheugen said. The standards were finalized in December 2010 by ETSI.
The European Commission announced in 2009 that 10 mobile phone producers, including Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Texas Instruments, agreed to adopt a standardized charger in order to minimize the "needless electronic waste" caused by the proliferation and regular updating of mobile phones.
Though some believed that Apple's commitment to the standard would spell the end of its 30-pin Dock connector used on nearly every iPhone, iPad, and iPod, the company was clear that it would not ditch the Dock for micro USB. "As we've said in the past, we are committed to the Apple Dock connector and this initiative will not require us to change it," an Apple spokesperson told Tech Radar at the time.
In fact, the standards actually allow manufacturers that do not already include micro USB ports on devices to comply by offering a suitable adapter. Apple's new iPhone Micro USB Adapter does exactly that. The tiny adapter plugs in to the Dock connector on an iPhone and can then be used with any charger that complies with the EU's mobile charger standard.
Oddly, the adapter only lists compatibility with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S. We aren't sure why, but it seems likely that it should also work with iPod touches and could maybe even trickle charge iPads in a pinch. The adapter is currently only listed in Apple's UK online Apple Store, but it seems likely it will be available throughout the EU soon. iPhone 4S models that ship in the EU may also come equipped with the adapter and a micro USB cable in the box, though we were not able to confirm that will Apple at press time.