Should Removable Batteries Make A Comeback? The EU Thinks So

Should Removable Batteries Make A Comeback? The EU Thinks So

Back in the day when smartphones were much smaller and made out of certain types of plastic, battery-switching was a thing. The moment their device conked out of juice, users would pull out a spare battery from their pockets to bring devices back to life in an instant. Strangely, an increase in device size these past few years led to features being removed instead of added. We lost essentials such as the 3.5mm audio jack, microSD card slot, and removable batteries; while novelties like an IR blaster faded away as well. That could possibly end soon: the EU has demanded smartphone manufacturers to reinstate removable batteries in their devices.

This comes to cater to the end users’ Right to Repair and put this into proper legislation. One of the biggest reasons consumers end up buying new devices after a year or two of use is mostly due to battery degradation than anything else. Their battery life duration drops as time goes on, eventually reaching the point that it becomes unusable. Processors from Snapdragon, Exynos, MediaTek, and other companies don’t slow down like they used to due to the progression of technology as a whole.

Photo: DW

We won’t say that throwing away smartphones in favor of new devices is solely caused by this reason – some really just want to have the latest and greatest every time. However, it’s a large enough contributor and indirectly leads to more substantial amounts of e-waste and pollution. In the interest of environmental sustainability, the European Parliament has put the hammer down on this topic, specifying this particularly: that all batteries for consumer electronics and light transport be easily replaceable.

This still has to be discussed with the European Council before being enacted into law. According to the RtR report, this will be discussed in detail tomorrow (March 17). If negotiations go smoothly, manufacturers will have 1-2 years to comply with the new rules.

What’s most interesting to see is how this EU mandate on removable batteries will affect smartphone design. Almost all devices are built similarly nowadays with glass or plastic back panels and steel frames. What was once the iPhone’s trademark look soon became the future of Android with the splendid reception of the original HTC One and the Galaxy S6. Another option would be a manufacturer releasing a certain variation of its smartphone with a removable battery just for the European market, while the global version will be the same but without that feature.

While we’re not sure how a removable glass back would look, we believe that smartphone design will have moved on by 2024. There is a possibility that we’ll see a material with even more durability than glass without losing out on elegance and refinement. This could also help move the foldable space forward. Only time will tell.





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