Five years of security updates and easy repairs for all phones, propose EU lawmakers

Five years of security updates and easy repairs for all phones, propose EU lawmakers

New legislation in the early stages at the European Commission may see Android manufacturers extend software support and provide more straightforward repairs for smartphones. The new initiative would bring positive improvements to the industry, allowing users to own their phones for longer with improved software and the ability to repair their phone when it’s aging or needs a fix.

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In a draft regulation and report on the state of the smartphone industry (via Ars Technica), the European Commission suggests smartphone manufacturers should provide five years of security updates alongside three years of OS upgrades. We’ve seen this from manufacturers such as Samsung, but this isn’t a guarantee on all Android handsets. If this draft regulation becomes law, Android manufacturers must provide this for those in Europe.

The report also suggests smartphone manufacturers need to make their updates more readily available to users. It suggests the update should land on the phone in the first two months since the public release. The specifics here are unclear, but it sounds like the European Commission wants all Android manufacturers to provide updates such as Android 13 within two months after Google’s release. If mandatory, that would be a significant change to the Android experience as often you’re left waiting months and months for the latest software unless you own a recent Pixel phone.


There are no specification smartphone models here, so Android manufacturers would likely be obligated to provide these updates for all its products rather than just focusing on top-end devices. Now, many manufacturers prioritize flagship phones for new upgrades meaning cheaper devices are left waiting on older software for longer.

That’s not all from the European Commission, though, as the body has also said smartphone makers that sell devices in the EU should provide easy access to spare parts for at least five years after the phone stops being sold. It suggests 15 different types of spare parts, including batteries, cameras, displays, charging ports, microphones, speakers, and even hinge technology for foldable phones.

Smartphone manufacturers currently have no obligation to make their phones easy to repair. The report also suggests that the battery capacity of devices shouldn’t change due to software updates. The draft regulations say, “The energy consumption of the product and any of the other declared parameters shall not deteriorate after an operating system software update or a firmware update when measured with the same test standard originally used for the declaration of conformity, except with the explicit consent of the end-user prior to the update.”


The European Commission claims that extending the life of smartphones to five years from the current two to three-year lifespan would be the equivalent of taking five million cars off the road in the region. Europe has been pushed ahead with smartphone regulations in the last few years, most notably passing a law to make all phones and various other gadgets use USB-C charging by 2024. The big story is that it means a change for Apple devices away from Lightning ports for charging, but it also likely means the end of technologies like microUSB that still appear on some devices.

This new draft regulation may bring tremendous change to the smartphone industry. It’s unclear what will change in the coming months and years that the European Commission is sure to dedicate to this new push, but expect significant changes in the European market in the next few years. The next step in the draft regulation’s process includes feedback from stakeholders on the proposals, and then we will likely see the proposals firmed up by the end of 2022. If passed, you should expect this to become European law by the end of 2023. However, this is still subject to change, and the process may take longer than average.

It’s also unclear what impact this will have on those in the United States. Still, suppose manufacturers are obligated to provide easier access to repairs and further software updates for some markets. In that case, we’d imagine we’ll see those benefits passed on to those in other markets.

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