How the EU’s push for easily replaceable smartphone batteries could revolutionize smartphone design

How the EU’s push for easily replaceable smartphone batteries could revolutionize smartphone design

The European Union just told smartphone manufacturers to pack up their batteries in a box “to the left, to the left.”

In a major move to empower consumers, the European Union recently voted in favor of requiring smartphone manufacturers to incorporate easily replaceable batteries by 2027. That means smartphones will have to be manufactured so that users can easily replace their smartphone batteries on their own, without having to bring it into the manufacturer or another party for repair. In turn, this regulation could lead to a landslide of design innovations in popular smartphones (after all, the iPhone battery is notoriously difficult for users to replace on their own).

This landmark regulation has the potential to revolutionize the way smartphones are designed, making it easier and more convenient for consumers to replace our batteries on our own. The EU’s push for user-replaceable smartphone batteries marks a significant step toward a more consumer-friendly future — but what does it mean for smartphone users?

In this blog post, we’ll be answering that question and more — read on to learn about the EU’s push for easily replaceable smartphone batteries.

What the regulation could change for smartphone batteries

The EU legislation doesn’t just affect the batteries in our smartphones —  it’s a wide-reaching law that focuses on the environmental sustainability of all batteries. It essentially governs the entire life cycle of batteries produced and sold throughout the European Union. 

It sets several regulations regarding the recyclability of batteries, in an effort to improve sustainability.

“Batteries are key to the decarbonization process and the EU’s shift towards zero-emission modes of transport. At the same time end-of-life batteries contain many valuable resources and we must be able to reuse those critical raw materials instead of relying on third countries for supplies. The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and ensure new batteries are sustainable and contribute to the green transition,”

Teresa Ribera, the Spanish minister for the ecological transition, in a statement issued on July 10, when the legislation was officially adopted.

Most of this probably won’t concern consumers too much — but there is one part that will.

“By 2027 portable batteries incorporated into appliances should be removable and replaceable by the end-user, leaving sufficient time for operators to adapt the design of their products to this requirement,” reads the EU’s July 10 statement. “This is an important provision for consumers.”

It is indeed an important provision for consumers, particularly for consumers of smartphones — the current practice of smartphone manufacturers restricting access to first-party battery replacements has long been a major pain point for consumers. When a smartphone’s battery starts to degrade, consumers generally have limited options. In many cases, the only official solution offered by the manufacturer is to send the device in for battery replacement, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process. This lack of accessibility not only frustrates consumers but also contributes to the growing problem of electronic waste.

Today, many smartphone manufacturers make it difficult or even impossible for users to replace the batteries on their own. By requiring batteries in appliances like smartphones to be easily replaceable, the new EU regulation could break that cycle of planned obsolescence. 

With user-replaceable batteries, consumers will have the freedom to swap out their device’s battery when it no longer holds a charge, extending the overall lifespan of their smartphones. This shift in design philosophy can have a profound impact on user experience while also reducing electronic waste, as millions of smartphones are discarded prematurely each year due to battery-related issues.

There’s also the potential for a thriving third-party battery market to emerge, much like the existing ecosystem of third-party screen repair services or third-party chargers. Independent companies specializing in battery replacements may step in with their own batteries to capitalize upon the new legislation, selling cheaper or better batteries than the ones created by the original manufacturer. 

Here’s a quick video that looks at other aspects of the EU’s battery regulation and how it will impact other areas of the battery lifecycle:

How the law could change smartphone batteries design

Manufacturers still have quite a while to figure out solutions to follow the law. The law requires that manufacturers adhere to the law by 2027, giving them about four years to figure out a new design plan.

However, there’s another law that the EU is considering that could shorten that timeline by about two years. The Ecodesign for Smartphones and Tablets regulation would only give manufacturers until 2025 to implement pretty similar design changes — just like the recently adopted regulation, Ecodesign for Smartphones and Tablets would require manufacturers to sell devices with easily replaceable batteries by mid-2025.

With these regulations in mind, smartphone manufacturers will need to rethink their current design approaches to meet the requirement of easily replaceable batteries. Here are some potential design changes they may have to consider:

  • User-friendly enclosures: Manufacturers will need to rethink the phone’s enclosure design to facilitate easy access to the battery. This will require manufacturers to make sure that the phone’s back cover or casing can be easily removed without causing damage.
  • Simplified fastening mechanisms: Designing smartphones with simple and standardized fastening mechanisms can make the process of opening the device and accessing the battery less complicated for users. Employing standard screws or latch systems instead of adhesives or proprietary fasteners can enable users to open and close the phone to replace batteries more easily.
  • Clear instruction guides: Alongside physical design changes, manufacturers could also provide clear and accessible instruction guides for battery replacements. These guidelines should be provided in many different languages spoken throughout the EU to ensure that they’re easy for users to understand. Manufacturers may need to include detailed step-by-step instructions or provide QR codes that link to online resources to guide users through the battery replacement process.
  • Compatibility and spare parts availability: Ensuring the availability of replacement batteries and their compatibility with older smartphone models will be essential. Manufacturers may need to maintain a steady supply of spare parts, including batteries, for a reasonable period after a phone’s release, as mandated by the regulations — additionally, manufacturers may have to consider whether or not to use a one-size-fits-all solution (i.e., a battery that can be used in multiple different phones made by competing manufacturers) or their own unique battery design.
  • Collaboration with third-party repair services: Manufacturers could consider collaborating with third-party repair services to ensure that users have access to authorized service centers for battery replacements. While this wouldn’t necessarily make the batteries easier to replace, it could give consumers an easier option than mailing their device into the  This could also involve providing repair training and certifications to independent technicians to meet the regulations’ requirements.
  • Balance with waterproofing: Creating a waterproof device typically requires manufacturers to seal the battery off using elastic bands — this makes it a bit harder for users to access and replace their batteries. Manufacturers will need to explore innovative approaches to maintain both features simultaneously, especially since consumers have grown accustomed to a high degree of waterproofing. Finding ways to achieve waterproofing without compromising battery accessibility will be crucial.

Overall, the EU’s push for user-replaceable smartphone batteries will require manufacturers to embrace a more user-centric design philosophy. Prioritizing ease of repair and battery replacement alongside other features will be a bit of a challenge, but it could have a beneficial impact for all smartphone users, even those outside of the EU — manufacturers will more than likely adopt a one-size-fits-all solution that meets the EU’s strict guidelines. So even though the regulations are being imposed by the EU, smartphone users in the Americas, Africa, Australia and Asia will hopefully benefit just the same.

Of course, this regulation doesn’t stop at user-replaceable batteries, but it will certainly mark a turning point in consumer accessibility. By empowering consumers in Europe, smartphone users the whole world over could benefit from the innovation that’s bound to come out of this new legislation. The regulation holds the potential to revolutionize how smartphones are designed, manufactured, and used.