Price Of OZ Smartphones Could Rise EU Battery Regulations A Major Problem For Brands
A return to old is on the cards for smartphones with the EU set to bring in a raft of changes that will overall the design of most models being sold today.
Key is a return to removable batteries with 2027 deadline for easily replaceable batteries just one of the many changes. However, there is another piece of legislation currently working its way through the EU’s lawmaking process called the Eco-design for Smartphones and Tablets.
It contains similar rules about making smartphone batteries easier to replace and is expected to come into effect earlier in June or July 2025.
European brands such as Nokia have already launched ‘self-repairable’ smartphones with some tipping a big market emerging for third party batteries.
According to Cristina Ganapini, coordinator of Right to Repair Europe the draft version of the eco-design regulation on the EU’s website, batteries should be replaceable “with no tool, a tool or set of tools that is supplied with the product or spare part, or basic tools.”
The question is whether these tools have to be supplied by the brand manufacturing the smartphone or third parties.
It also says that spare parts should be available for up to seven years after a phone’s release, and, perhaps most importantly, “the process for replacement shall be able to be carried out by a layman.”
The legislation is currently being scrutinized by the European Parliament and Council, and Ganapini expects it to pass into law in September this year, with its smartphone battery replaceability requirements coming into effect a year and a half later.
The Verge claims that despite the overlap between the two pieces of legislation, the battery regulation voted on by the European Parliament this month is still important.
That’s because the battery regulation is more stringent than the eco-design regulation in a keyway: it doesn’t offer a loophole that would allow smartphone manufacturers to avoid having to make their batteries easy to replace if they’re able to make them long-lasting instead. Specifically, they’ll need to maintain 83 percent of their capacity after 500 cycles and 80 percent after 1000 cycles to qualify.
Such devices would also have to be “dust tight and protected against immersion in water up to one meter depth for a minimum of 30 minutes,” according to the eco-design rules — capabilities often achieved with glue.
“We would rather have seen longevity requirements alongside repairability requirements rather than leaving the trade-off to manufacturers,” says iFixit’s repair policy engineer Thomas Opsomer. “That said, 83 percent capacity after 500 cycles and 80 percent capacity after 1000 cycles is a fairly ambitious requirement; it would probably translate to at least five years of use.”
“A portable battery should be considered to be removable by the end-user when it can be removed with the use of commercially available tools.”
It’s unclear exactly how many manufacturers’ smartphone batteries may meet the requirements for this longevity loophole.
A visit to the Apple support page claims that a “normal battery” typically retains up to 80 percent of its original capacity after 500 complete charge cycles.
Other manufacturers may already be providing batteries that are this long-lasting including the likes of Samsung and Motorola.
iFixit’s is pushing for lawmakers to count a device as user-repairable under the battery regulation if it can be repaired using “basic tools.”
Included in this category are common screwdriver styles like flat-head, Phillips, and Torx, though management admits it’s likely to include some niche implements like iFixit’s opening picks.
Another potential point of contention is how user-replaceable batteries could coexist with waterproofing. The battery regulation contains an exemption for devices “that are specifically designed to be used, for the majority of the active service of the appliance, in an environment that is regularly subject to splashing water, water streams or water immersion.”
Opponents of such rules often bring up waterproofing as a feature that could suffer if a device is designed to be easily opened.