Windows Phone 8 to feature standardized USB port location for universal accessories?

WP Central

We filing this one under a big ol’ rumor has we have no secondary source to corroborate the information, but there is some preliminary evidence to suggest there may be some truth to it.

We were just tipped off about a new requirement for Windows Phone 8 devices regarding the micro USB port and its placement on the device.

So far, much to the consternation of consumers and 3rd party accessory makers, it has been difficult to make charging stands, car mounts, etc. for Windows Phone due to the haphazard placement of the micro USB port. Some like HTC prefer the side, others like Nokia have it on top and some like Samsung have it on the bottom.

Evidently, starting with new Windows Phone 8 hardware, OEMs will be required to put the micro USB port at the bottom-center. We have yet to see the WP8 chassis requirements that presumably have been updated but there’s a good chance that this indeed has been added.

WP Central

The "universal mount" for the iPhone has been a cash cow

To add some meat to the rumor, when you look at the Samsung ATIV S, indeed you see the charging port dead-center on the bottom. But then again, Samsung had it there too for the Focus S and their other devices. But those leaked images of the Nokia “820” from this morning tell a different story—that device also has the charging port dead center on the bottom. From our tipster:

“Miss not having all the accessories that iPhone users enjoy like speaker docks etc?. Fear not as all Windows Phone 8 devices will have a standardized location of the charging port which allows third party accessory manufacturers a brand new market to tap into, thereby increasing WP8's appeal for not only the manufacturers but also consumers as well. This is something that drives a lot of users to iPhones and Microsoft felt this was something that may have been missing with wp7 but now hopes to remedy that with the new requirement in all WP8 handsets.”

Up until now, all Nokia Lumia phone have had their charger on the top but now, oddly enough they have moved it south. Coincidence or is this evidence for this new requirement?

WP Central

The alleged HTC Accord with micro USB bottom-center

At this point, we’re leaning towards believing this is accurate. For one, it makes total sense that Microsoft would require this to make accessories more universal—it helps 3rd party companies sell more product, gives them incentive to “design once, sell everywhere” and consumers also win out by having a much larger selection of wares for their phone, which so far have been anemic, to say the least.

Make no mistake, third-party accessories for the iPhone are a huge business and it helps drive that whole ecosystem--why would Microsoft not want to address that with Windows Phone 8?

Surely we’ll find out more next Wednesday but for now, keep this one rumor at the top of your list.

Thanks, Dazza, for the heads up

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • ...So, we'll have to use an annoying USB port at the bottom with every phone just because it would seem too awkward to use a common jack to connect the phone to the stereo? Leave that standard port to apple...
  • As I have owned every Windows Phone, let me just say the bottom-center USB is waaay better than the idiotic HTC version on the side (WTH?) and also better than having it on top, which just looks stupid when driving (not to mention, no desktop cradles). So dear reader, where to you prefer your USB? This idea of standardized location is huge and a win-win for everyone. If you're the only one unhappy, well...gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet ;-)
  • The top placement actually annoys me a bit with my Lumia. It means the cable gets in the way, whereas with my iPhone it hangs from the bottom and out of the way. I also pick it up the wrong way round all the time, because cable at the bottom feels more natural. One of my few issues with the phone.
  • I really hate the side placement of the USB port on my Arrive. I don't get why HTC would put it there.
  • It's not like we will have a beatbox with micro-USB. That is one thing I like about the iPhone, every speaker has the 30 pin connector for music and charging.
  • I disagree entirely that it's better than having it on top.  Say you're at your desk and charging your phone; most likely the charger cord is coming up from the back of the desk.  So that means that you can plug it in at the bottom, and the phone is upside down, or you can plug it in at the top and use your phone while it's charging.  Or, another example.  You mention driving and cradles, but how many people actually USE a cradle?  Most people I know just plug the phone in and stick it in the cupholder.  If you're doing that with a top microUSB and top 3.5mm jack, then you can actually still look down at the screen of your phone for things like GPS directions.
  • Exactly. I also use my phone in my car as a music player. Now If I need to charge it and play music at the same time, I'll be plugging it in at both ends. Then what do I do with it?
  • Bluetooth?
  • +1  Plus, if they are going to allow manufacturers to make docks, it would stand to reason that we may seem some head unit integration such as there is with the iPhones.
  • So his solution is a lower quality output, and possibly even needing an aftermarket adapter... or to just believe on faith that car manufacturers will all of a sudden make headunits for something with barely any market share.  I mean, do any headunits integrate directly with Android even?  And the Microsoft-based Ford Sync doesn't work at all with Windows Phones, I don't see why it'd start now.
  • I also prefer the top, but gladly give it to the bottoms for the sake of standardization
  • Yeah, at your desk or your car, you'll be forced to have a USB cable coming most likely from the top, running down the phone, then to the bottom where the micro-USB port is. Let's face it, the bottom connection will only work with cradles, docks, etc. We're being pushed to buy accessories. I suppose I can't blame Microsoft for this initiative.
  • It would be nice to HAVE the option to buy accessories. Most phones don't have aynthing other than generics.
  • In UK its illegal to use a phone while driving UNLESS its in a cradle. Had to take a junior hacksaw blade to my cradle when I got my 7pro just to make it work. Centre bottom, universal spec, is a brilliant design move IMO
  • This x100. Hooray for logic!! :)
  • Hello, thanks for your answer :) I have an LG E900, which has the USB on the right side, and I really feel comfortable with it :D But maybe you're right, a standardized location could be a nice idea. Anyway, it's a matter of tastes :)
  • All my HTC phones (android + WP) have it on the bottom, my LG Quantum on the other hand has it on the left side, very strange indeed (and no, I didn't buy that phone, no one did, Mirosoft gave it to developers before the lumia 800)
    I remember this being an issue with Android as well. It was the reason you saw no accessories (and still to this day most the number of iphone/ipod accesories is much bigger)
  • As Long as its universal and we get more docks/cradles accessories, I dont care where they put it.  Although I do like prefer the bottom the most, top, then least desired is the side like my Arrive.
  • Im with this guy
  • Daniel, I agree so much. I hate the side placement on my trophy...I will be glad if it's a standard feature on WP8....
    My old touch pro 2 had everything in the right place.
  • On the side? My HD7 has it on the bottom. IIRC the HD and HD2 did as well... I thought it was standard for HTC
  • The bottom placement will suck when I charge my phone in my car, but I'll work around that.
  • Actually it wouldn't suck if someone devised a proper cradle/tray to hold the phone, one that allows you to just drop the phone in and go. Hate always having to prop up behind shift selector. Maybe it exists?
  • just buy a right angled usb cable, i got one off amazon when i got my focus s a while back and it's been great.
    they're a couple bucks, and totally worth the price.

  • I really don't need a cradle for the car. My phone's just fine sitting in the cup holder. I'l work with the new port placement, whether that means angled connector or what not. It's not like I'm always charging the phone in the car anyway.
  • I NEVER charge my HTC Radar in the car.  My battery LASTS.  There's no need.  I like it on the side.
  • I guess you've never used GPS then... That drains your battery very quickly
  • Thank god its at the bottom.
  • My HTC HD7 has it on the bottom, my titan 2 on the side and my 900 on the top. For the car it feels more natural coming from the bottom. From the top it feels top heavy. From the side it gets in the way holding it. I love this and hope it's standard.
    This could also get W8 a ton of after market goodies :)
  • I, for one, fully support a universal usb port location requirement.
  • I agree. I 've been saying since day one that they could easily make a standard across the entire ecosystem for accessories like snap on controller accessories to make the phone into a PSP like device. Since every device will have Smart Glass they could easily become controllers for an XBox and have the extra data for minimaps, team information, weapon selection, etc on the phone with touch features and have a superior interactive experience with both XBox on the TV and Windows experience.
  • Very logical and I prefer it at the bottom anyway
  • That would be great if that is the case!
  • I haven't thought about it for a long time, but it would be great to have them in a standard position so everyone can buy accessories for Windows Phone 8 wihtout worrying about the brand or if they will change in the future then the accessories will become useless.
    Until a confirmation, this is a just a rumor, but the Nokia phones having the connector on the bottom is perhaps an indication. Hopefully, they will be standard.
  • I have suggested this a 100 times...fantastic. Windows Phone docks and speakers. Very cool
  • My DVP has it dead center bottom, so bring on the docking stations damn it!
  • Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the EU mandate Micro USB for all phone including Apple? Now as to the placement of the Micro USB, was that mentioned in the mandate? Is the iPhone 5 going to have Micro USB and will that also be place in the center on the bottom of the phone as the 30 pin is now?
  • Yes, it's a EU standard going back to 2009. No, it did not specify location.
  • I was just thinking that, if Apple has to go Micro USB they have a few choices. Go with the same 30 pin and add a Micro USB port. Go 30 pin and include an adapter for Micro USB. Or just go strictly Micro USB and place it in the bottom middle of the phone and everyone wins. I guess the last one would be too simple. I'd also assume devices would have to "talk" to both (or all if you include Android) products.
  • Adapters are acceptable under the EU mandate - I think Apple already said that was the way they were going.
  • Try to use a 3rd party adapter on an iphone, it will give an invalid charger message (after the latest update). My wife has one (because her friend has one), and it made me have to go out and buy new chargers for a phone I dislike.
    Ugh, Apple wont let you use 3rd party chargers 1/2 the time, I'm sure they'll try to block a MicroUSB..
  • I bought a 3rd party adapter from a flea market recently for 5$ and it works for my iPhone 4 (in car and home).
  • Gosh people complain about everything.
  • I prefer to put the USB port on side or on top. Putting the USB port on bottom makes it very awkward to operate on desktop while charging.
    If they want to unify the USB port location on bottom edge, please add some optional latches on both sides of it (like Apple's connector) while keep it backward compatible to general USB cables in case a latched cable isn't available. Common micro USB connectors cannot hold the cable and the device steady enough. I already broke two micro USB cables since I started using my HD7.
  • no
  • Top is best, but side is a nightmare when it comes to car docks.
  • I am unsure how having it on the bottom is a BAD thing .. I love my luma 900 but when driving and having the cable yanking the phone out of my hands because its plugged into the TOP of the phone is not GOOD what so ever. Now when developing/deploying apps to it thats not so bad due to it on the bottom and out of the way (in portrait).. Now lets get to the real meat of things here and gimme the Windows Phone 8 SDK already!! Viva La September 5th.
  • Here is the thing, you're not supposed to hold the phone in your hand while driving, and it's way easier to dock it with the USB-plug at the top.
  • Wow I guess you never pick up a phone when your driving ?
  • Sounds to me that a longer USB cable will solve your yanking problem.
  • Why not just allow the screen to rotate upside-down? People who prefer the USB port on top or on bottom will all be happy.
  • no
  • Except that in that case you're talking into the speaker and the buttons are at the top.
  • FINALLY. a major omission from WP7 (no doubt OEMs didn't want do it)
  • Love it!!  Only thing I could think of too..
  • Its unlikely, but I would love a new standardized connector, like a better version of Apple's. Micro-USB doesn't support audio out. It would help all the OEMs and consumers to other devices like car manufacturers or after market car audio manufactures to have compatibility with windows phone. That's one thing that made my gf move to iPhone, no windows phones can output to the head unit, :(.
  • And no, my the head unit doesn't have a standard aux jack. It takes a aftermarket cable to connect to the iphone.
  • Really like this idea. Would be great to use a real home dock; even though the one I made with LEGOs is pretty cool. The reason I do not have a car holder (for GPS when I travel, among other uses) is because I cannot find one that allows me to charge my HD7 as in it. I miss my dock for the PocketPC (and the app that allowed me to use my PPC on the PC).
  • Great idea, and amazing how something as simple as such a standard can create an entirely new market of opportunity ("ecosystem", if you must). And for the naysayers, does dictating a port location prohibit other locations? Could a port on top AND bottom be the best of both worlds, and a differentiating/selling point of a phone for a specific target audience? I can't imagine, but based on some of the polarized responses, maybe?? Personally I'm a bit indifferent to the location, call me tolerant, but I can comprehend the value of standards!
  • The HD7 has the best placement for ports... Micro USB as well as the Headphone Port at the bottom... Can't believe why they'd place it on top when users could easily listen to music, pull out the phone and start using it... Unlike having it on top wherein you'd still need to turn the phone around...
  • + Loved that about my WP7 powered HD2.
  • It's just a USB port , and you guys are complaining?
  • The comment section should be renamed complaints.
  • Word .
  • LOL, so true...
  • Rather it at the bottom and universal.
  • USB in the bottom is the way to go. Headphone on top should also go to the bottom, that way when Im listening to music and I pull my phone out of my pocket it will be in the proper orientation and I won't have to turn it around or do an odd wrist maneuver. 
  • Apple patent #29093208398falkdjf09823 - centering things <- I don't even like to park in the middle of my driveway for fear of being sued.
  • WP can do that, but Android can't ;)
  • Yay..about time. welcome the accesories and mods, baby!
  • When we have smartglass, will we still need docks? I also think headphone jack on the bottom might make more sense since it will face you when you hold it.
  • It does suck not having cradles and such like with my phone, but personally I still love having the usb port on the top right of my Samsung Omnia 7 (what's this about all Samsung WP7 phones having it on the bottom?). It's great because it fits comfortably in my hands and doesn't get it the way when I hold it sideways, and due to where my charger is it's positioned better where I need it to. And as someone else pointed out it's a bit awkward having a lead come out of both ends if you have headphones plugged in at the same time. I'm sure a bottom connector wouldn't be a downside though as long as any accessory made will fit all WP8 phones because the dimensions will be different for each one.
  • So now we can all buy extremely overpriced speakers that have a dock? Just buy speakers that connect to your headphone jack and be done with it. 
  • YES!!!!
    I personally hate the usb on the top of my lumia.  my zuneHD looks so tidy and elegent when it's in it's charge/dock on my desk.
    I am sure Nokia will come up with something just as elegent for thier WP8 Lumia phones
    bring on the dock's !!
  • Good! Should already have happened 5 years ago. Vinding goud cradle accessoriea has been Bert difficult for min iPhone platforms. Would be glad to see this standardized, so that ho quality accossories for the Windows phone can be made. Currently looking for accessories is a mess.
  • Might be a good thing... the USB port on the original focus sucked. The cable in the boxed stopped working about 3 months after I got the phone. And other cables were touch and go to get working.
  • Will it be backwards compatible with my current phone? :P
  • I would prefer if it was on the top like the Lumia 900 since that makes for the easiest car mounting, simply snap it in and push down a USB-plug, but bottom should work aswell.
  • If they standardize the location of the micro USB, what about the headphone jack? Wouldn't they force it as well to be next to the USB port? (speaker docks)
  • I agree its about bleeping time!!!
  • If this is true then I have this to say, THANK GOTT.  This will bring more accessory makers into the fold since they could conceivably reach a larger market than an individual brands specific handset.   I'm already looking forward to a propery docking stand (upright is my preference). Finally!
  • If this turns out to be true, then hopefully the necessary plastic fittings for each device won't be impossible to find.
  • I would absolutely love for this to be true as it give a much-needed boost to the accessories market. I'm just hesitant about unintended consequences (can't think of any right is but sure there will be some)
  • I really do hope this is more than a rumor.  It would be great and very advancing for the platform as a whole to be able to allow 3rd party vendors to design and built universal docking stations for our phones in the future.  Look at all the $5-500 docking stations that are built for the i-class devices built over the years.  I've read that the new iPhone5 will have a different port from teh previous generations.  Now is the time to allow catch on to this idea so that others will begin to build and support our phones.
    I would love to buy a small docking station to keep on the night stand that would let me keep it charged and listen to Podcasts or iHeart Radio or even turn it into a psuedo clock radio.
  • It is necessary in order to compete with Apple. The number of accessories for iPhones & iPods are staggering, and part of their success.
  • Forget about competing with Apple. It is necessary to show some brand (Windows Phone) unity, continuity and damn common sense!
  • On my focus its on top, which is super annoying if you have to talk and charge ! Good idea if this is true
  • Remember the landscape dock for... HTC Titan?
  • Maybe it's just me but it does look that the two ports are rotate differently. Take a look at the beveled corners of the port! On the Nokia the beveled corners are facing to the back of the device and on the Samsung they are facing to the front.
    If that's true, the rumor was just a dream. :(
  • Put it on the bottom but have a feature on wp8 that flips the screen 180 degrees so people can still view content when charging on a desk. If you made the 3 buttons into soft keys, it really wouldn't matter where the USB was. Simples.
  • Brilliant!
  • I have an HTC Radar, and I like the plug on the side.  Especially when I have my phone in landscape.  Gets it out of the way.
  • There may be a market, but I still like top or side so I can keep using it for GPS and music in the car.
  • My Samsung Focus has it at the top.. and while like others said it's good for charging at your desk and using your phone in it proper orientation.. That's hardly a reason to NOT standardize it.. the positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion. I'd rather have a clock beside my bed to plug it into to charge and work as an alarm rather than plugging one cable for charging and one cable for audio. Same with the car.. yes just sticking it in the cup holder works.. but I started using a cradle and let me tell you the cup holder thing is crap compared. PLUS mounted at the correct height helps you keep your eyes where they are supposed to be.. on the road. So I say good job.
  • Sounds like a good idea to standardize it. My Radar has it on the left side and it's feels kind of strange...
    And when others try to copi the placement of micro usb, well... :-P
  • Or maybe top AND bottom...?
  • I like it.
  • It is good to have a standardized location for the USB port.