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Smartphone repair law proposed; opposed by Apple-backed group


A proposed new EU smartphone repair law has been opposed by a trade association representing Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone makers. The law is intended to reduce electrical waste as part of an environmental protection program.

The law would require companies to ensure that they continue to make at least 15 key spare parts available for five years from the launch of a phone. It would also necessitate a minor improvement to Apple’s requirements for free battery replacement…

Proposed EU smartphone repair law

The Financial Times reports:

Smartphone manufacturers supplying the EU will face stringent requirements to provide spare parts and ensure longer battery life, according to draft proposals published by Brussels on Wednesday.

The European Commission said that at least 15 different component parts should be made available for at least five years from the date of a smartphone’s introduction to the market.

The law would additionally require energy efficiency and drop-test labels.

Phones would also have to display an energy efficiency label, similar to those used for washing machines and dishwashers, which will show battery endurance and other characteristics such as resistance to drops.

Finally, it would demand a battery endurance requirement, which slightly exceeds Apple’s criteria for a free battery replacement under AppleCare.

Batteries should survive at least 500 full charges without deteriorating below 83 percent of their capacity.

Currently, AppleCare offers free battery replacement when its capacity falls below 80%.

Opposed by Apple-backed trade group

Tech trade association Digital Europe opposes the plans. Its members include Apple, Google, Huawei, LG, Oppo, Samsung, Xiaomi, and other smartphone makers.

The group claims that, far from reducing waste, the requirement to produce the spare parts would actually create it.

Smartphone makers argue that requiring more parts to be available simply increases the consumption of plastic.

Digital Europe, which represents the tech industry, said: “A potential overproduction, subsequent warehousing and destruction of spare parts will naturally result in wasted resources, reduced material efficiency and negative economic value ultimately resulting in higher costs for the consumer.”

Analysts have also expressed concerns that smaller companies would struggle to meet the costs of the new requirements, which could make smartphones less affordable. It could also make it less economical to produce ultra-low-cost models.

Apple generally facilitates the repair of older iPhones, although it has resisted consumers repairing their own devices. However, it recently changed its stance, introducing a Self Service Repair program which makes available spare parts, tool loan, and repair guides. The company does, though, strongly discourage this.

For the vast majority of customers, the safest and most reliable repair is achieved through an Apple Store or one of the thousands of Apple Authorized Service Providers and Independent Repair Providers around the world. Repairing modern electronic devices that are complex, highly integrated, and miniaturized isn’t easy — and these technicians have the expertise, training, parts, and tools to get the repair done right.

Regarding the energy use labels, the EU says that a similar law for lightbulbs had shown that these are extremely influential when it comes to purchase decisions. Almost 80% of consumers said that the labels had affected the bulbs they bought.

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Naveen Kumar

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