Smartphones with user replaceable batteries could make a comeback. The European Union is all set to enact a new law that will require smartphones to have easier battery repairs. The new law mandates OEMs to design portable batteries for smartphones in the EU. Once the Council and Parliament sign off on the new law, it will go into effect in early 2027. Besides offering easily replaceable batteries, the latest regulations approved by the European Council stipulate that all rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles and mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and others sold within the EU region will need to include details about their carbon footprint, label, and a battery passport.
The European Union (EU) Council this week approved new regulations requiring smartphone manufacturers to design their devices to allow users to easily replace the batteries on their phones. The latest set of regulations addresses the environmental impact of batteries at every stage of their life cycle. Once the European Council and Parliament sign the regulation into law, it will mandate smartphone manufacturers to equip phones with replaceable batteries in the EU by 2027 (via Android Authority). However, the EU could delay the rule if manufacturers demand more time to comply with the new rule to switch to portable batteries.
The regulation of the European Parliament and the Council is applicable to all batteries including all waste portable batteries, electric vehicle batteries, industrial batteries, starting, lightning and ignition (SLI) batteries (used mostly for vehicles and machinery) and batteries for light means of transport (example: electric bikes, e-mopeds, e-scooters).
As per the rules, all batteries should have mandatory information on the carbon footprint of batteries, labels, an electronic “battery passport” and a QR code. The labelling requirements will apply by 2026 and the QR code by 2027.
The new rules also cover the design, production, and waste management of all rechargeable batteries sold within the EU and aim to make them safe, sustainable and competitive. It sets targets for producers to collect waste portable batteries. The collection target for portable batteries is set at 63 percent by the end of 2027 and 73 percent by end of 2030. For batteries from “light means of transport” such as electric scooters, the target is 51 percent by 2028 and 61 percent by 2031. Similarly, the regulation has set a target for lithium recovery from waste batteries of 50 percent by the end of 2027 and 80 percent by the end of 2031.
Last month, EU Parliament approved the revision of the previous regulations for batteries and waste batteries with a majority of 587 votes to nine.
The new regulations are anticipated to affect companies including Apple, Samsung and Google which market battery-powered products within the EU. Most offerings by the major smartphone makers have non-removable batteries now. However, the iPhone maker along with other manufacturers is expected to resist the implementation of new regulations.