Universal mobile phone charger promises 50% less draw

The mobile phone industry plans to introduce a universal charger as part of a drive to improve its previously patchy environmental record, The Guardian (UK) reports.In addition to universal appeal -- yuk, yuk -- specifications for the new device include a 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption.

The mobile phone industry plans to introduce a universal charger as part of a drive to improve its previously patchy environmental record, The Guardian (UK) reports.

In addition to universal appeal -- yuk, yuk -- specifications for the new device include a 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption.

The plan from industry body the GSM Association was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

All five of the UK's mobile phone companies have signed up to the universal charger, as have the major handset manufacturers, and phones which can use the new charger -- which relies upon the micro-USB connection found in the BlackBerry Storm -- will start appearing later in the year. By 2012, the GSMA says "the majority of phones shipped around the world" will use the universal charger.

No word on how American mobile providers are approaching the plan, but the group includes AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile and Vodafone. (It does not include Apple, at least not yet.)

Mobile devices -- especially the chargers that come shipped with them -- have long-been known as vampiric, power-sucking wall hogs. A universal version with a green mindset could help workers everywhere from yelling, "Does anyone have a Motorola charger?"