mandatory updates for five years

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In June this year we saw the European Commission finally approve the use of a single charging port for a wide variety of electronic devices after a long time, but more changes could come in the future. The institution is working on another initiative of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan which aims to mobile phones and tablets more durable and efficient.

Through a draft legislative billwhich also addresses new energy design and labeling criteria, the European Commission proposes five years of security updates and three years of operating system updates for all phones. At the level of repairability, it proposes that access to several spare parts be guaranteed for up to five years after the devices have ceased to be sold.

Phones updated for longer

The European Commission seeks to establish clear software update guidelines for phones and tablets, regardless of range. We know that currently there are many discrepancies in this regard. Each manufacturer makes its own software update promises, with the highest-end models benefiting the most, both in terms of security patches and updates with new features.

Should the draft text eventually become a bill, manufacturers will need to ensure that the security updates are available for at least five years after the devices go off the market. In the case of functionality updates, these will have to be available for at least three years after the devices leave the market.

But that is not all. The European Commission also goes a little deeper into the matter and establishes the maximum time that companies will have to start distributing updates. Security updates must be made available to users no later than two months after launch. Functionality updates will have a greater margin of deployment: no later than four months later.

Repairability Kilian Seiler Pzlgtuahxmm Unsplash

This scenario could be suffered much more by Android than iOS. The deployment of updates to the Android operating system is much more complex than Apple’s. In general, once Google has a new version of Android, it comes into play with a multi-stage process that includes adapting them to each device model, evaluating the modifications from the manufacturers and obtaining a final approval from Google.

Due to this mechanism in which Google and each of the manufacturers come into play, updates often take time to reach the devices and, sometimes, they do not usually last for many years. Android 12, for example, was released late last year, but many mobiles still haven’t received iteven as the final version of Android 13 is already here and has started to arrive on some Pixels.

The battle for Android updates has a clear winner: small developers

Let’s take Samsung as an example. The largest smartphone manufacturer currently promises up to four years of Android updates for its high and medium-high range devices, and two for mid-range mobiles. It also guarantees five years of security patches for business models and four years for the rest of its equipment.

Xiaomi, another major player in this industry, currently promises up to three years of updates of Android for your Xiaomi 11T. The rest of your devices are left with two or less. Of course, it offers four years of security updates for 11T, and at least two for the others. In Apple’s case, iOS updates roll out for up to seven years.

Changes in favor of reparability

The European Commission proposal has also focused on reparability. In this sense, it establishes that manufacturers, importers or authorized representatives must make a minimum number of spare parts available to professional repairers. for up to five years after the devices go off the market. The elements are the following:

  • Drums
  • Back cover or back cover assembly
  • Screen mounting
  • front camera assembly
  • rear camera assembly
  • External audio connectors
  • External charging ports
  • mechanical buttons
  • main microphones
  • Speakers
  • hinge assembly
  • Mechanical screen folding mechanism
  • Protective foil for folding screens
  • Charger (there are exceptions)

It remains to be seen how this proposal will evolve. For now, it should be noted thate is a draft open to comments. We will have to wait to see if the project succeeds. If so, many players in this industry will be forced to make important changes to comply with European regulations.

Pictures | Mika Baumeister | Kilian Seiler (Unsplash)

In June this year we saw the European Commission finally approve the use of a single charging port for a…

In June this year we saw the European Commission finally approve the use of a single charging port for a…

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