You are currently viewing What is the EU’s new proposal for rating smartphones on reparability and why it is a good thing- Technology News, FP

What is the EU’s new proposal for rating smartphones on reparability and why it is a good thing- Technology News, FP

Legislators in the European Union are really taking tech companies, especially those involved in making and selling smartphones and tablets, to task over greenwashing and how they contribute to e-waste. Environmentalism seems to have become a high priority in the continent with several countries have faced a summer of extreme heatwaves.

Explained_ What is the EU's new proposal for rating smartphones on repairability and why it is a good thing

Lawmakers in the EU are pushing for regulations that would enable regular consumers to use their smartphones, tablets and other personal devices for a longer period of time. For example, the EU is proposing to sign a proposal into law that would require smartphone brands to ensure that for each new device that they introduce to the market, they have to ensure at least 15 different parts are readily available to service centres as well as repair shops, for a period of at least 5 years.

The EU is also working on a proposed legislation that would make smartphone brands commit to at least 5 years of consistent and on-time software updates. Both of these legislations are a great way to deal with planned obsolescence a practice in which tech companies often downgrade the performance of their existing phones using software updates or by simply not providing key components that would be essential to repair a device. Companies like Apple and Samsung have often been accused of indulging in these practices as a matter of policy.

Apple’s infamous Batterygate Scandal would be a perfect example of planned obsolescence. What basically happened in Battergate was that Apple would deliberately start underpowering its iPhones as they got older, in order to preserve battery life. 

The reason why it became a scandal, was that Apple kept this practice hidden for years. Users meanwhile always suspected that older iPhones, especially after the launch of a new device and the subsequent update would feel sluggish and slower. Only after a couple of users used benchmarks to prove that older iPhones were indeed getting slower, did Apple admit that they have been doing this for years because their batteries wouldn’t be as healthy as when they were new. Subsequently, Apple started allowing users to choose between better performance and better battery life after they replaced the batteries in some of the iPhones.

The European Union is also coming up with a set of standards that would ensure that a basic quality is maintained for batteries. Smartphone brands have been given a choice of either letting users change the batteries on their own, just like most older Android devices or to have a minimum quality wherein they would have to survive at least 500 charging cycles without deteriorating below 83 per cent.

To tie all this up neatly in a manner in which consumers would easily understand just how a smartphone device is built, the EU is also proposing a rating and a label system, that would show figures such as battery life, battery quality, how many charging cycles they can expect before getting it replaced, how easily can a device be repaired, and their IP rating. All of these figures would be determined by a set of standardised tests that all devices need to be put through.

Explained_ What is the EU's new proposal for rating smartphones on reparability and why it is a good thing

A system like this would not only set smartphone brands that make their smartphones in a more ethical and consumer-friendly manner, but it would also push them to adopt consumer-friendly policies. Furthermore, it would drive regular users towards smartphones that can be used for a longer period, thus reducing e-waste. Electrical appliances in the EU already come with such labels.

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