Smartphones, removable batteries are back

The European Commission would like to reintroduce removable batteries to reduce waste. Here's how the cell phone industry is changing

For once the "Europe asks us" could make users happy: the European Commission is thinking of asking smartphone manufacturers to use the removable battery again. The reason is very simple: to reduce waste and decrease pollution. According to Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission who is working on the "Green Deal" package to decrease the production of harmful substances, smartphones are one of the most polluting devices.

Since batteries are no longer removable, if not by opening the smartphone with ad hoc tools, users prefer to buy a new smartphone rather than just replacing the battery. And the consequence is that there are more devices to dispose of, even if they have perfectly functioning parts. The removable battery and simpler repairs would allow users to use the same device for longer, reducing the production of polluting material. For users this is certainly good news, but for manufacturers it would mean changing once again the production method of smartphones, which at the moment are not able to accommodate a removable battery.

Removable battery in smartphones, what Europe is asking for

For the moment it is only an idea, but in the coming months it could become reality. Among the proposals on which the European Commission is working to reduce the emission of pollutants is the return of the removable battery in the smartphone. As you know, the accumulator is the most delicate component of cell phones and after a year or two begins to lose efficiency. Many people, rather than change the battery, decide to buy a new device.

In this way, however, multiply the waste to be disposed of, a cost not only economic, but also environmental. Most of the smartphones to be disposed of have components that are still fully functional: CPU, display, RAM and memory. If the battery were removable and easily replaceable, users might not buy a new smartphone but decide to just change the battery.

In addition, the Commission is working to make repairs and access to spare parts easier. The reason is always the same: to reduce waste.

What it means for manufacturers

If the European Commission's proposal is approved, it will be a real shock for smartphone manufacturers. They would have to redesign all devices to allow for battery removal. No small task, especially since smartphone batteries are no longer square or rectangular. In some cases, especially in the top of the range, to optimize space, the batteries have become L-shaped, or are doubled. We'll see what Europe will decide in the coming months and how manufacturers will react.