EU regulators want 5-year smartphone parts, better batteries

If the EU proposal goes into effect, it could allow repairs to phones and tablets like Samsung's for up to five years after they've been off the market.
Expanding / If the EU proposal goes into effect, it could allow repairs to phones and tablets like Samsung’s for up to five years after they’ve been off the market.

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European Commission regulators are proposing to provide 15 different spare parts for smartphones and tablets sold there for at least five years, as part of a broader effort to reduce their environmental impact. increase.

A draft regulation of “Ecodesign Requirements for Mobile Phones, Cordless Phones, and Slate Tablets” published on August 31 states that phones and tablets are “often prematurely replaced by users” and “not used sufficiently.” or not recycled” (i.e. junk drawer). -ed) at the end of their life. The cost is the energy and new materials mined from the earth for new mobile phones and non-recycled materials found in homes. According to the commission’s findings, extending a smartphone’s lifespan by 5 years from his current typical 2-3 years would be like taking 5 million cars off the road.

The most notable amendment (described in Annex II) would allow phone manufacturers and sellers to have access to “professional repair shops” for five years from the date the phone was removed from the market. These repair personnel have access to parts such as batteries, displays, cameras, charging ports, mechanical buttons, microphones, speakers, and hinge assemblies (including foldable phones and tablets).

Phone companies can also choose to make replacement batteries and back covers available to phone owners, or design batteries that meet minimum standards. This includes maintaining 83% of rated capacity after 500 full charge cycles and 80% after 1,000 full charge cycles. For example, Apple now claims that the company’s iPhone is designed to retain 80% capacity after his 500 charge cycles.

Smartphone buyers will also have access to displays, SIM and memory card trays, microphones, charging ports and hinges under the proposed regulations. Also, repair instructions for all these parts must be available for seven years after the device’s end-of-sale date, requiring a relatively open system that can be registered and accessed by professional repair workers. Repair procedures should be fairly extensive, including exploded diagrams, board and wiring schematics, and access to software needed to approve locked-down parts, if necessary.

The proposed regulations include a lot more, both in terms of repairs and reliability. Of particular note is that the enterprise provides security updates for at least five years and “feature updates” for three years, both two to four months after public security patch releases or “same operating system updates”. requirement to provide. …with other products from the same brand. ” For Android vendors, this would be a dramatic shift in software support.

European smartphone regulation has made gradual progress in recent years, with initiatives such as the French Repairability Scoring and EU-wide adoption of USB-C by 2024. Repair movement. Repair legislation introduced at the state and federal level typically requires manufacturers to supply only the same parts, tools, and manuals that they supply their own repair technicians or licensed shops. Apple, Samsung, and Google have recently offered more parts and repair options, but they fall far short of the commission’s proposed regulations.

Feedback on the proposal will be collected from now until September 28th. A version of these proposals is scheduled for adoption in the fourth quarter of 2022, and most of them are written to take effect 12 months after approval.

It’s too early to comment, but manufacturers are reluctant to mandate repairs.

Technology trade group Digital Europe told the Financial Times that “possible overproduction, subsequent warehousing and destruction of spare parts” would lead to waste and higher prices for customers.

Xiaomi’s Dutch branch submitted feedback on the broader goals of the EC’s initiative in January 2021. While acknowledging the importance of software updates, a representative wrote, “Operating system support is often dependent on third parties and sometimes fails to deliver software versions.” . Compatible with all maintained versions of the operating system. ”

Xiaomi also said that repairs must be “within an accredited repair network and with original spare parts” to ensure “quality and reliability”. Providing repair parts and instructions to third-party specialist repairers “whose repair costs and success rates are unknown” “poses significant quality, safety and security risks to consumers.”

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