The EU wants smartphones and tablets to last longer – here’s why you should care

The EU wants smartphones and tablets sold within its borders to last at least five years – and that could be good news for everyone, whether you live in Europe or not.

In recent years, the EU has steadily worked on laws around the right to repair – which should make it easier for ordinary people to get their old technology repaired. The goal is that if outdated gadgets (like your iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21) can be easily repaired and maybe even upgraded, it will reduce e-waste.

Instead of throwing out a phone or tablet just because one or two components are on the fritz (and paying for a new iPhone 13 or Samsung Galaxy S22), you can just have the parts replaced and stick with what you currently have.

The EU’s overall goal with these rules is to create a circular economy by 2050 (opens in new tab). In a circular economy, instead of harvesting raw materials to make products that eventually turn into waste that gets thrown away, that waste would instead be reused as raw material for the next generation of products.

Now you can fix your old smartphone instead of letting the e-waste pile up Credit: Peter Dazeley: Getty Images

The most recent move is the publication of a draft proposal (opens in new tab) which, if enacted by law, would force manufacturers to supply essential parts to professional repairers for up to five years after the launch of a new phone or tablet in the EU. This includes replacement cameras, battery packs, charging ports, speakers and other vital parts. It will also stop manufacturers from releasing updates that negatively impact a device’s battery life during the same period.

Hopefully this will mean that the best phones and best tablets remain great gadgets for even longer – which would help save you money and help the environment too. It is the definition of a win-win.

But what about me? I don’t live in the EU…

But while that’s all well and good, we know what you’re thinking. Why worry if you live outside the EU?

Well, the EU is made up of 27 countries and accounts for one sixth of the world economy. As a result, its legislative decisions can have a major impact on everyone else.

For example, many believe that due to new regulations requiring all electronic devices sold in the EU to have at least one USB-C charging port by Fall 2024 (September, October, November), we will likely see Apple’s lightning charger finally roll out globally. phase. Apple probably can’t afford to silence the EU by not launching its products there, and it would complicate production if Apple decides to make an EU-exclusive iPhone with USB-C and an iPhone with a lightning port everywhere else.

Instead, it will likely fold and eventually use the more universal charging method with the iPhone 14 or the iPhone 15.

A photo of someone doing a self-service repair

A few years ago, Apple’s offering of self-healing services was a ridiculous idea, but now it’s happening (Image credit: Apple)

Speaking of Apple, many believe that the EU and France (an EU member) are the reason why it launched its Self Service Repair. Self Service Repair allows common people to pick up replacement iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 parts, among other Apple gadgets.

Despite years of pushing back on self-repair, Apple backtracked in November 2021 after changes to French law earlier in 2021 and discussions in the EU parliament about the repairability of gadgets.

At this point, the new five-year recoverability proposal is just a draft. But if the EU decides to introduce it, we won’t be surprised if manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Google and others also start offering replacement parts to countries like the US, UK and Australia. Not least because professional repairers outside the EU could simply import the parts.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but if you’re looking for other ways to reduce your environmental impact today, you might want to start small and look at the best eco-friendly phone cases.