The other day, I was rummaging through a bag full of old tech, I mean, Truly old tech trying to get myself to finally get rid of the phones i haven’t used in about 10 years when i stumbled upon a battery. One of the batteries I carried around in case my phone ran out.
You see, smartphones once had replaceable batteries. Instead of having to carry around a portable charger or desperately searching for a wall outlet to recharge your dead phone (assuming you have a power cord with you), you can unplug the back of your phone, swap-power the battery with a fully charged one and proceed happily on your way.
However, at some point, manufacturers (and, perhaps, most consumers) decided they wanted their smartphones to be as light and thin as possible, so thin that there was no room for a battery that wasn’t glued in. position. They also wanted to add water and dust resistance, and that’s much harder to achieve with a device that opens easily. So slowly but surely, the replaceable battery disappeared, and we all learned to carry around chargers or cables for just-in-case scenarios (especially if your phone’s battery was starting to age).
I have to admit that the first time I bought a phone without a replaceable battery, I felt a little peeved. It was probably similar to what a music lover feels buying a phone with great sound but without an audio jack you can adjust to the change but wish you didn’t have to.
Now, however, there is a chance that one day I will be able to readjust. In 2020, there was a European Parliament proposal for new laws regarding battery regulations, which included a clause requiring portable batteries incorporated into appliances to be easily removable and replaceable by the end user or independent operators during their lifetime of the appliance. (Other regulations covered batteries for various vehicles and industries.) In September 2022, the EU reached a tentative agreement to move forward with such laws. And on June 14, 2023, the European Parliament approved it, sending a press release explaining that portable batteries must be designed in such a way that consumers themselves can easily remove and replace them (emphasis them).
Points have been raised about the interpretation of the easily removable and replaceable sentence
The final vote is still imminent, but considering that this month’s approval passed by 587 votes to 9 with 20 abstentions, I’d say the deal is pretty much done. The part on battery replacement comes into effect three and a half years after the final vote.
This means that, in a few years, any phone sold in Europe will have to be designed so that its battery can be replaced by the person who owns it. And that any manufacturer operating in Europe will have to decide whether they want to make completely different phone models to fit that market or invent phones that can be sold in other parts of the world as well. Like the United States.
Since this news broke, there has been much debate about the exact interpretation of the readily removable and replaceable phrase. Kevin Purdy makes some good points in his Ars Technique article noting that batteries are actually replaceable now if you have the know-how (and courage) to get past the adhesives holding the phone together and keep the battery in the phone. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to argue that this would qualify as easily removable by the typical user. But what does it do? Using specialized tools to get to the battery so that replaceable means inserting a new semi-permanent battery? Just by unscrewing the back of the phone? Or go back to how it was and pull it out with your fingernail?
I must admit that I am very curious to know how it will end. Odds are it will probably look different from the replaceable batteries we had 15 years ago. It’s more likely to extend the longevity of the device, not to get a few more hours of use before needing to recharge. However, I like to daydream that I can once again shrug and replace a battery in under a minute when my phone is running low. I could get used to it again.
#Easily #replaceable #phone #batteries