The current status quo of smartphone design, repair and longevity could finally be upended in favour of users – and the planet. That is the message from campaign groups on the landmark overhaul of rules concerning batteries and eco-sensitive design working their way through the various legislative bodies of the European Union – a market big enough to force manufacturers to change, even if EU rules don’t directly apply to other regions.
MEPs voted on 14 June to accept new battery regulations, elements of which look to ensure cells in smartphones and gadgets can be replaced with parts available for five years after the device is discontinued. In many cases, the rules say, batteries should be user-replaceable “without requiring the use of specialised tools” and without the heat or solvents typically required to unglue components today. Manufacturers also won’t be able to use software to stop batteries installed by third parties from working.