Mobile phone charger suppliers are developing products compatible with the iPhone, iPad and other popular handsets.
The switch to Micro-USB, the universal mobile phone charging interface approved by the European Commission last year, is gaining pace in China. Latest releases from the country now support the standard to abide by Europe’s policy requiring all smartphones and data-enabled communication devices to have compliant charging connectors by January 2011. The regulation is backed by 10 big-name players, including Nokia, Motorola, LG Electronics, Samsung and Apple.
Micro-USB variants currently make up about 30 percent of the output from China, but interviewed companies forecast a higher share in the months ahead. The segment accounts for 30 percent of ViewKuan Electronic Products Mfg’s mobile phone charger supply. The enterprise predicts this will rise to 40 to 50 percent by year-end.
The universal interface is expected to simplify multidevice charging and reduce industry waste in the long term. The widening adoption of Micro-USB versions, however, is expected to weaken demand for traditional mobile phone chargers. Once the standard becomes mainstream, it will open the line to other possibilities. Makers will shift production to high value-added segments such as AC/DC adapters and chargers for camera batteries and MP3 players, and USB chargers for handsets.
Meanwhile, many vendors continue to release models for the iPhone and handsets from Nokia, Samsung and Motorola. Shenzhen Chaolitong Electronics Co. Ltd matches its accessories with the iPhone, iPad and MacBook. The manufacturer expects the Micro-USB standard to push suppliers to create new design concepts and improve product functions and compatibility.
Besides the iPhone, chargers from Shenzhen Broad Science & Technology Co. Ltd work with the iPad and iPod. Such variants accounted for more than 20 percent of the maker’s total output last year. The supplier’s 3-in-1 BRD-011A model supports both USB 1.1 and 2.0 charging and data transfer. The product has an LED charging indicator and 100 to 240V input. It is compatible with the iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS and 4, and iPod touch, nano, video, classic and mini.
China accounts for about 60 percent of the global supply of mobile phone chargers, making it the largest manufacturing center for the line worldwide. Seventy percent of the industry’s 500 players are based in Guangdong province. Other companies are located in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong provinces. Aside from local enterprises, there are foreign-invested large and midsize operations. Most devices are manufactured under OEM or ODM terms, and are exported to Europe and North America.
Price competition remains the primary challenge for China suppliers. To boost sales, many are improving cost efficiency and introducing value-added functions.
Mobile phone charger range
Hong Kong: Circuit, structural improvements underscored
Products from China manufacturers can be classified into standard and novelty types. The former consists of travel, dock, in-vehicle and universal models, and accounts for 95 percent of the output. Of the subcategories, the first makes up 70 percent of supply. It is widely used and often sold together with the handset.
Most products fall under the low-end and midrange segments, but the line is gradually shifting upmarket. Companies expect demand for the last to rise this year as versions with more value-added functions and larger output current are introduced.
Prices range from $0.50 to $15. Entry-level units with basic travel and dock charging are between $0.50 and $1. These support 100 to 240V input, 5V output, 300 to 500mA, and short-circuit and overvoltage and -circuit protection. Midrange models are designed to supply exact and stable output voltage. These use local materials and components, and carry CE, FCC, C-Tick and RoHS approval. Quotes in this segment are from $1.10 to $1.50. Upscale variants are between $1.60 and $2.50. These adopt quality PC from Taiwan and Japan, and are often compliant with CE, UL, FCC, C-Tick and RoHS standards.
In-vehicle and universal varieties mainly differ in electrical attributes. The first delivers 12V input and 5V output voltage, and 500mA to 1A current. These are priced from $0.40 to $1.
Multifunction versions, which are between $5 and $15, support a high charging current and USB charging, and have LCDs that show charge/discharge and battery charging status.
Many mobile phone chargers, including those from Shenzhen Cono Technology Co. Ltd, incorporate a USB interface. Such variants make up 80 percent of the company’s total output. Its CN-03B model has 100 or 240VAC and 5V output. The AC plug complies with standards in China, Europe, the US and Australia, and also with CE, C-Tick, FCC and RoHS.
Across the different product categories, the typical charging current is 500mA to 1A. Some makers are planning to release versions that support 1A to satisfy the requirements of the iPhone series of handsets. The higher charging circuit, however, will need better over- and short-circuit protection, thereby increasing component costs by 30 to 50 percent.
Some suppliers are designing variants to fit various export destinations and specific requirements. Yilon Technology (HK) Co. Ltd, which specializes in universal fast chargers, offers the UFC022 model. Its car and AC charging capability enables home and in-vehicle use. Makers also provide wind-up and solar chargers, but in small volumes. These use integrated batteries with 50 to 200mAh capacity for wind-up, and 400 to 2,000mAh for solar units. Solar chargers are priced from $7 to $15.
Hong Kong suppliers of mobile phone chargers are emphasizing electronic circuit and industrial design enhancements to satisfy buyers’ evolving requirements for handset accessories. Many have shored up their R&D teams for the purpose while continuing to offer aesthetically attractive models that boost user experience.
The emergence of the Micro-USB as the standard charging port for cell phones has also prompted makers to produce universal units with one or more USB outlets. In-car versions of such types are available as well.
ATC EnergyTech Corp. Ltd’s EA-701 U-Auto model has two USB charging ports for the iPhone, iPod and other popular brands of smartphones, handsets, PDAs, gaming devices and portable media players. It supports 12 to 24VDC input, and short-circuit and overcurrent protection.
The pocket-sized emergency charger is suitable for the gifts and premiums market and has space for logo imprinting. Some models are attached to a keychain and include assorted connector tips and a compartment for AA or AAA batteries.
Several suppliers target mostly popular mobile phones and smartphones. Kidigi Co. Ltd’s model LE-HHD7 leather-wrapped USB desktop cradle is made for the HTC HD7 smartphone. It is available in red, white, light green, blue, orange and glossy black. Besides handset chargers, the company provides FM transmitters, car holders, cradles and other accessories.
In response to growing demand for energy-saving equipment, manufacturers are also releasing models that double as power banks and are compatible with an array of portable electronics. Beam & Co. Ltd, which has been specializing in solar products since 1999, offers the EL71011 model. The unit features a 0.75W mono or polycrystalline solar panel and has one Mini-USB socket for battery charging. The device incorporates a voltage selector, a battery-capacity indicator and an LED flashlight.
At least 50 companies are pursuing the line in Hong Kong, most of which are mobile phone accessory providers and power solution specialists. They offer AC/DC adapters, docks, power banks, and USB, solar, car, dynamo and other chargers.
Beam & Co. Ltd
Kidigi Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Broad Science & Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Broad Science & Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Cono Technology Co. Ltd
ViewKuan Electronic Products Mfg
ViewKuan Electronic Products Mfg
Yilon Technology (HK) Co. Ltd
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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