A new flagship smartphone by Taiwanese phone company HTC will be sold without a charger in a pioneering bid to cut down on electronic waste.
Network operator O2, which will trial the pilot for the as-yet unnamed phone, estimates that of the 30m new phones sold annually in the UK, 70% of their buyers already have a compatible charger for the handset. The company has previously said it will phase out new chargers with handsets sold in 2015.
The reference to a “flagship” HTC phone – expected to be unveiled shortly and heavily anticipated by the technology press – suggests the handset could be a five-inch version of HTC’s existing high-profile One X smartphone.
Three years ago, 10 major phone makers including Apple, Nokia and Samsung committed to a voluntary agreement to work towards a universal charger based on a micro USB connector, in an effort to reduce unnecessary waste. But no such universal charger has been settled on, and Apple appears to have backtracked on the idea with the introduction earlier this month of a new proprietary Lightning charger for its iPhone 5 that is likely to be the standard for several generations of future iPhones.
Ronan Dunne, O2’s chief executive, said: “Right now, O2 with HTC has to go it alone on this matter – we both believe in it passionately enough that we can’t wait for the industry as a whole to join us in this crusade. The environmental cost of multiple and redundant chargers is enormous and I believe that, as the mobile phone has become more prevalent, we as retailers and manufacturers have an ever-greater responsibility to be a more sustainable industry.”
He admitted the industry has not yet delivered on a universal charger, saying: “In the last few years, our sector has made progress towards a universal charging solution, although not nearly as fast as I would have liked. As a result, we have fallen short of our original promise as an industry to standardise charging across all handsets.”
O2’s decision to pilot the charger-free move with such a high-profile phone – HTC’s previous flagship One X launched earlier this year and was well-received by technology reviewers – is significant and could mean the elimination of manufacturing a considerable number of duplicate chargers.
Buyers who don’t have a suitable charger already will be able to buy one separately from O2 at cost price. The phone will come boxed with a USB cable to plug into existing mains chargers.
Phil Roberson, regional director of the UK at HTC, said: “A unified approach across all manufacturers and retailers would dramatically decrease the industry’s carbon footprint, not only in terms of manufacturing but also packaging and transport.”
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