Replace cell phone battery yourself? Thanks to the EU decision, it should even be possible for iPhones from 2027

Getting to the core of an Apple handset has been a Herculean task so far.  The EU is chewing up the electronic windfall.  (Image sources: Rabanser and AB Visual Arts via Adobe Stock)

Getting to the core of an Apple handset has been a Herculean task so far. The EU is chewing up the electronic windfall. (Image sources: Rabanser and AB Visual Arts via Adobe Stock)

The European Union (EU for short) heralds a new era of user-friendliness. Because from the year 2027, batteries in smartphones or laptops must always be removable by the end user himself – and without much effort.

The end user is of course you. Accordingly, you can look forward to a future in which glued batteries in electronic devices will be a thing of the past. The new battery directive will apply in about three and a half years (FAZ, Golem, PC Mag and Der Standard reported on the press release from the European Parliament).

Details on the EU battery regulation

The new regulation affects the development, manufacture and the process of recycling of all rechargeable batteries (read: accumulators) sold within the European Union.

The European Parliament passed the so-called battery regulation on Wednesday in Strasbourg. In addition to smartphones and laptops, everyday devices such as telephones, headphones, household robots or electric toothbrushes are also meant.

The EU parliamentarians approved a revision of the previous regulations with an overwhelming majority of 587 votes to nine. These are regulations that specify the handling of (used) batteries.

The new law is intended to “cover the entire life cycle of batteries,” as the EU Parliament writes in its press release. During the revision, the main focus was on environmental and consumer protection.

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What does the battery regulation mean for you?

The new regulation affects the device batteries of smartphones, tablet PCs, laptops or digital cameras. The new regulation is likely to result in manufacturers rethinking; especially for those who, so to speak, lock their batteries away in the device casing.

Because in the future, no special knowledge or special tools may prevent safe access to the battery of your device. This includes the need for thermal energy or solvents.

Replace battery: And what if you get stuck putting in a new battery? Then you are at least covered for the first five years after the appearance of a mobile phone, because until then device providers have to offer you replacement batteries for their devices. This is the decision of the EU.

An exception: According to eco-design guidelines, smartphone manufacturers can continue to choose to install or glue batteries so that they can be replaced. However, this only applies if the battery “has a remaining capacity of 83 percent after 500 charging processes”.

Devices with splash water protection should also be an exception. According to the current state of knowledge, the battery of such devices may continue to be glued and remain more difficult to access for you as the end user. To what extent manufacturers like Apple use this loophole remains to be seen.

Apple versus EU: next round

The manufacturer from Cupertino in particular is known for taking a special route. However, barriers are now increasingly being set up on this special path. For example, from December 28, 2024, an EU directive for standardized chargers will come into effect.

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From Lightning to USB-C: More precisely, the USB-C standard was defined as a uniform charging technology. Apple’s iPhones, on the other hand, have been using a so-called “Lightning” charging connector since 2012 (FAZ has reported). According to PC Mag (citing Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo), the iPhone 15 should be the first Apple smartphone to switch from the in-house “Lightning” connection to USB-C.

So now easily replaceable batteries are coming to Apple devices? Just like any other consumer electronics supplier, Apple will need to make EU-compliant changes to its devices – and make the batteries in its popular electronics products accessible accordingly. It remains to be seen to what extent the above-mentioned ecodesign directive offers a way out here as well.

Those who want to know more about the changes that come with the new rules can find out more at europarl.europa.eu.

Editor’s Opinion

Patrick You can

Patrick You can: If the EU now gradually pushes through more environmentally friendly devices, applaud unabashedly. As soon as the EU Council waves the text through, I welcome the revision as an important step in terms of sustainability and recycling.

Apart from rechargeable batteries for mobile devices, batteries will also be given a QR code in the future. This should make recycling easier. And with larger batteries, manufacturers should feel obliged to list the CO₂ profile for the entire life of the battery. In my opinion, this creates important liabilities.

Do you think the new EU directive will noticeably change the way smartphones are made? Or are you in favor of continuing a closed design? Feel free to discuss it in the comments!

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