This EU Rule Would Force Apple And Samsung To Embrace User Replaceable Batteries

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The European Union (EU) has proposed a provisional agreement that would require portable devices have user-replaceable batteries, as well as other requirements. The agreement covers batteries of nearly every size, from portable batteries to Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries.

The EU has been busy as of late, with agreements that will require smartphone makers to open their devices to third-party app stores and make USB-C mandatory for portable electronics beginning at the end of 2024. Up until now, the two prior agreements would cause Apple the most concern. However, the latest proposed agreement would bring about changes to all smartphone makers across the board, as well as any device that requires a portable battery.

The proposed legislation covers batteries for portable devices, Starting, Lighting, and Ignition batteries for vehicles (SLI batteries), Light Means of Transport batteries (such as electric scooters and bikes), EV batteries, and industrial batteries.

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If the legislation passes, it will require manufacturers to come into adherence to the new law within 3 and a half years. This will give little time for smartphone makers to figure out ways of making batteries in devices such as foldable phones easily removable and replaceable.

Foldable phones often require two separate batteries in order to maintain balance and weight. The two batteries are connected with ribbon cables and devising a method of making this type of battery easily removable could prove tricky. Another dilemma manufacturers will have to figure out in the three-and-a-half time period is how to maintain future devices' dust and water resistance.

The move by the EU adds to its commitment to more environmentally-friendly devices, as well as better for the end user. The proposal will require each device to carry a QR code that contains information on capacity, performance, durability, chemical composition, and a "separate collection" symbol. Batteries would also be required to have digital passports with information on the general battery model as well as the individual battery.

In a quote from the EU's blog post concerning the proposed agreement, it stated, "For the first time, we have circular economy legislation that covers the entire life cycle of a product—this approach is good for both the environment and the economy." It added its overall aim is to build a stronger EU recycling industry, and that the measures could "become a benchmark for the entire global market."