EU proposes regulation to improve software update and spare part availability for smartphones and tablets
As part of its efforts to make consumer electronics more sustainable, the EU has proposed new regulations that will require OEMs to offer at least five years of security updates and three years of OS updates to their devices. In addition, EU regulators have also suggested minimum spare part requirements for smartphones and tablets sold in the region for a minimum of five years.
The new proposal comes just months after EU lawmakers reached an agreement to standardize USB Type-C ports and USB-PD fast charging across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and cameras. It is part of the commission’s broader plan to make electronics more sustainable and lessen their environmental impact.
The minimum software update requirements and repair part availability specified in the new draft regulation (via Ars Technica) aim to lengthen the life cycle of smartphones and tablets. If the regulation passes, the EU will require OEMs to make 15 types of repair parts available for at least five years after taking a device off the market. The repair parts include the battery, display, cameras, charging ports, mechanical buttons, microphones, speakers, hinge assemblies, and SIM/memory card trays.
Smartphone manufacturers also have the option to either offer batteries and back-covers for their devices or design batteries that meet a new minimum standard. The proposed standard requires smartphone batteries to have 83 percent of the rated capacity after 500 charge cycles and 80 percent after 1000 charge cycles.
Along with supplying the spare parts, OEMs will have to provide detailed repair instructions for all parts for at least seven years after the last day of marketing the devices. Smartphone makers will also have to set up relatively open systems for repair professionals to register and access the instructions.
In addition, the proposed regulation requires OEMs to offer at least three years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates to the devices, with the security updates reaching users “at the latest two months after the public release.” While Apple already meets these software update requirements, Samsung and Google are the only Android OEMs that currently promise five years of security updates for a few of their devices.
The EU will collect feedback on the proposal till September 28 and tweak it for adoption by Q4 2022. It will likely take effect twelve months after the approval.