Future Android phones and tablets could get five years of system updates if new EU plans go ahead.
The EU wants manufacturers to guarantee at least three years of operating system updates and another two years of security updates.
This is in line with what Google and Samsung promise buyers of their devices and what Apple currently exceeds for most devices. The draft proposals are designed to extend the life of devices in an effort to reduce e-waste.
In the bill, lawmakers say devices are often replaced before their time because of a lack of updates. The environmental costs of this are significant, the project says.
It states: “The sharp increase in demand for smartphones and tablets, combined with their increased functionality, has led to increased demand for the energy and materials required to manufacture these devices in the EU market, accompanied by an increase in the associated environmental impacts . In addition, devices are often replaced prematurely by users and at the end of their useful lives are not sufficiently reused or recycled, leading to a waste of resources.”
The EU impact assessment claims that increasing the life of a phone or tablet by just one year could reduce the climate by around 25% of the entire mobile phone market. Furthermore, the proposed regulation claims that extending the life of a phone to five years would be equivalent to taking five million cars off the road (via Ars Technica).
The legislation also calls on manufacturers to provide spare parts for a minimum of five years after they are put on the market. These include batteries, cameras, charging ports and more. Many manufacturers are already embarking on self-repair programs, but this legislation will effectively write it into law.
The main aim behind the plans is to ensure that phones and tablets are energy efficient and durable, easy to repair, upgrade and maintain, and can be reused and recycled. It will now enter a consultation period.