Smartphones: Germany asks for updates and spare parts for 7 years

The planet can't wait any longer: faced with climate change, the EU wants to force manufacturers to produce more sustainable products, Germany is even tougher

In view of the increasingly evident signals that the planet sends us through climate change on the unsustainability of modern rhythms, regulators, having become aware of the problem, are legislating to reach the best compromise between the various requirements.

The European Commission, for example, is doing so, and wants to make it mandatory for companies that produce smartphones and tablets to release security updates and spare parts for five years after presentation, while for tablets - which have a longer life cycle than smartphones - the intention is to go up to six years for replacement parts. In addition to this step, which would be important to reduce obsolescence and therefore the number of e-waste, the Commission would like to oblige manufacturers to make public the cost of repairs for each product.

Germany goes beyond EU requests

In this scenario, Germany is part of the scene, whose federal government wants to go further and be even more rigid in terms of regulations that can be useful in protecting the environment. The German Ministry of the Economy is pushing for a regulation in Berlin that obliges manufacturers to provide seven years of safety updates, and for a similar period of time to guarantee customers the possibility of repairing the device in the event of damage, so they don't have to throw it away to buy a new one.

A waste that Germany wants to avoid, even at the cost of appearing to be tougher than the European Commission. The German position is very ambitious, especially if one considers that in terms of security updates, manufacturers generally find it hard to go beyond two years, apart from the top of the range, where three years are generally offered, and some exceptions. But, considering even the lowest segments, the average of the whole market is that, about two years from presentation: Europe would ask for three more, Germany five more.

Manufacturers have already expressed disappointment, and except for Apple that at least on security updates is already aligned with the Commission's aims, the others have judged the minimum limits too strict. The same position regarding spare parts: manufacturers would like to limit themselves to displays and batteries, since they are the components most prone to damage or wear, while - they say - cameras, speakers, microphones and so on are far less prone to problems.

Lower repair times and widespread labelling

The Commission is also considering setting a maximum limit of five working days for the delivery of spare parts, to prevent customers from preferring to get rid of their smartphone and buy a new one if delivery (and therefore repair) times are too long. Germany agrees with the EU on this and also on the Commission's intention to regulate the construction of devices to ensure that they are easier to repair, to provide labels to summarize the energy impact and to assign to each model an index of repairability.