The EU may soon make replacing smartphone batteries considerably simpler.
The next step the European Union takes after mandating USB-C charging might make replacing batteries for smartphones and laptops considerably simpler.
This is a component of a significant new proposal from the European Parliament(opens in new tab) and Commission that aims to make batteries more environmentally friendly by establishing regulations for their manufacture, disposal, and use in automobiles and mobile devices. That includes facilitating their replacement.
The timeframe for businesses to comply with the battery removal restrictions would be three and a half years if this legislation is implemented (which might take some time until the European Parliament and European Council have agreed on the specifics). Similar to how the legislation governing USB-C charging, which was just enacted but won’t take effect until 2024.
Large battery manufacturers will need to create strategies to make sure they’re manufacturing their cells in an ethical and sustainable manner (smaller enterprises are exempt). Up to 2030, when the law mandates that all battery materials be recycled, they will also need to employ a greater proportion of recycled materials. The batteries must also have supplementary labeling that informs customers of their capacity, durability, composition, and other information.
Mandatory USB-C charging is a huge issue, but this new battery rule is perhaps even more extreme. While the bulk of phones and laptops sold today have their batteries securely bonded in, Apple is actually the only company that has refused to implement USB-C charging for its phones.
The rule required manufacturers of smartphones and laptops to completely rethink their products. Currently, gadgets may be assembled using non-standard screws and held together with glue to provide higher water/dust resistance and smaller bodies. Furthermore, even when you open up the phone, batteries are often hidden behind other parts.
Equally, it’s possible that there won’t be a significant shift in the way cellphones are made. Phone and laptop manufacturers may determine that the present battery connection mechanism, which employs detachable adhesive tabs, really conforms with what the legislation states unless the EU gets extremely precise about how simple battery replacements have to be.
This would be similar to Apple’s self-service repair program, which was introduced earlier this year in response to widely publicized right-to-repair legislation across the globe. Yes, you can theoretically replace components on your own for an iPhone or Mac, but you have to go through the hassle of ordering tools and parts that have been authorized by Apple, meticulously doing the repair yourself, mailing everything back, then contacting Apple to have them validate your repair.
Whatever transpires, it may be years before this EU plan truly becomes a piece of legislation. Your next smartphone could have a battery change as simple as that of a feature phone from decades ago, even if the iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23 will likely still employ glued-in batteries as previous versions of these phones did.