New regulation in the European Union, passed recently with an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament, requires smartphone manufacturers to equip phones with replaceable batteries.
Among other rules, the new law requires that electronic appliance makers (including smartphone makers) design portable batteries in such a way that consumers can themselves easily remove and replace them.
Right now, this isn't the case in the vast majority of instances. Apple's iPhone, for example, has a battery that's quite hard to replace, and the situation is similar with Samsung's Galaxy phones, as well as phones from many other popular brands.
Things have gotten better over the years. In 2022, Apple launched a self-service repair program for certain models and allowed customers access to iPhone parts. And teardowns of the iPhone 14 show that the design of the phone has been improved, allowing for easier repairs than on some earlier models.
It's still a far cry from popping out the phone's back and swapping the battery in a second (remember the original Nokia 3310? Those were the days). But that's pretty much what the EU's new rules are requiring.
From the original proposal, filed in 2020: "Portable batteries incorporated in appliances shall be readily removable and replaceable by the end-user or by independent operators during the lifetime of the appliance (...) A battery is readily replaceable where, after its removal from an appliance, it can be substituted by a similar battery, without affecting the functioning or the performance of that appliance."
The new regulations also come with stricter waste collection targets for portable batteries: 45 percent by 2023, 63 percent by 2027, and 73% by 2030.
It will be a while until we see the effects of this law on the market, as it comes into force three and a half years after the law was passed. But it appears that the days of phones with glued-down batteries, which require special tools to pry out, are numbered.
We're likely to see another EU rule making a big impact on iPhones as early as this year. Apple's upcoming iPhone 15 is likely to come with a USB-C charging port (instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning port), due to new EU regulations that come into force in 2024.Continue Reading