According to Android Authority, the European Council agreed to make official the new regulation requiring all smartphones sold in the EU to have replaceable batteries by 2027. Once Parliament approves and signs alongside the European Council, no manufacturer will be allowed to sell mobile phones unless they have a set of batteries that can be removed and replaced.
The article explains, “This new law states, specifically, that users should be able to replace a battery in their phone without any special expertise or tools. Being that almost all smartphones today are designed like a ‘glass sandwich’ that relies on extensive use of adhesives, the very fundamentals of how companies design phones will need to change.”
What does this mean for the United States and the rest of the world? We won’t know for sure until the change starts taking place, but it seems highly likely this will affect all mobile technology product lines across the globe.
Unless Apple, for example, is willing to split their iPhones and iPads into specific “EU Models” with replaceable batteries, all of their products will soon be forced to comply with this involuntary redesign.
The reason for this law is “to create a circular economy for batteries. A ‘circular economy’ refers to a manufacturing model in which the resources put into it are recycled or reused as much as possible. In a perfect world, the resources needed to create a smartphone would be sourced 100% from older smartphones, so nothing new would ever need to be used. Obviously, the 100% figure would be practically impossible, but getting much closer to 100% is a very realistic goal.”
Other rules contained in this new law will require these additional changes by 2027:
- OEMs must collect 63% of portable batteries that would go to a landfill.
- Lithium waste recovery should be at 50% initially, and later at 80% by 2031.
- Industrial, SLI, and EV batteries have to be made up of certain percentages of recycled content.
- Nickel-cadmium batteries must have a recycling efficiency target of 80% by 2025, while other batteries will need to be at 50%.
In a discussion of smartphones’ impact on the planet, ZDNET said, “All these smartphones generate 146 million tons of CO2 or equivalent emissions (CO2e), Deloitte’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications division estimated in its comprehensive TMT Predictions 2022 report. Meanwhile, the internal components of smartphones can be made of toxic metals, making them difficult to safely dispose of.”
Companies like Apple began ditching removable batteries in favor of waterproofing and manufacturing lighter, more compact designs, according to TechEngage.
Mashable points out that while Android decided to distinguish itself from Apple by providing removable batteries, that has long since changed. Furthermore, removable batteries have been a reason for design limitations like the need to use cheaper plastic materials as opposed to metal and glass.
MakeUseOf explains that batteries are still dangerous and pose a risk of fire and explosion after overheating. As a result, manufacturers created a smartphone’s chassis design to be a barrier of protection.
It’s safe to assume that smartphone manufacturers can’t be too happy about this development in the EU. Everything from IP68 waterproof ratings to thin, sleek, and premium-feeling designs will be disrupted. Or, this might be the catalyst that sparks a new revolution in smart device designs.