The EU proposes a law to increase the lifespan of smartphones

The EU proposes a law to increase the lifespan of smartphones

The EU proposes a law to increase the lifespan of smartphones

Smartphones represent about 10% of all electronic waste (PA Wire)

Smartphones represent about 10% of all electronic waste (PA Wire)

EU lawmakers have proposed a new law that would extend the life of Android devices and make it easier for users to repair, update and maintain phones.

The law includes a fixed standard for Android updates similar to what Google offers on its latest smartphone, the Pixel 6.

As part of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan and in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, the initiative aims to change the design process of phones and tablets to make them more energy efficient and durable , improve consumers’ ability to repair their devices and make it possible to reuse and recycle devices.

The first step is to establish the minimum deadlines for software updates. That is to say, for Android devices sold in the EU, it would be three years of major OS updates and five years of security patches.

Currently, many Android devices don’t last nearly as long as these suggested minimum time periods, with some of the more expensive devices offering four years of major updates and five years of security patches, but many of the cheaper models fall short.

Lawmakers are also pushing for Android brands to offer repair parts and professional services for at least five years after a device goes to market.

Recalling the days when batteries could be easily replaced, one element of the proposal gives device manufacturers a choice of whether to meet stricter requirements for batteries or restore replaceable batteries.

EU requirements require devices to maintain at least 83% of nominal capacity after 500 charge cycles and 80% after 1,000 cycles

After a period of public consultation in 2021, the draft law has just entered a feedback period, which will run until 28 September. It is expected to be adopted in the final months of 2022, with results expected about a year later, provided that everything goes smoothly during the review period.

Not only would improving the lifespan of devices reduce the amount of technology sent to landfills, it would also save consumers money.

Average English replaces the phone every two to three years. The proposed requirements in the EU could mean that consumer devices will stay with them twice as long.

Mobile banking and remote working mean that much of our sensitive data is encased in our phones. Keeping our phones longer means better control over our data and fewer interruptions in how we interact with technology.

Not to mention, smartphones account for 10% of global e-waste, with the vast majority of unused technology going to landfill rather than being reused or recycled.

However, it’s important to note that while the proposed law could do very well in terms of reducing e-waste and extending the life of phones, a proposed law doesn’t always mean real-world change. Looking at the EU’s attempts to push Apple towards USB-C charging ports, lightning cables are still around.

And as this is an EU law, it doesn’t necessarily mean it applies to UK phones. However, it will likely affect how smartphones are made, which will then penetrate the UK even though it won’t actually be enacted here.

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