Phones May Get Updates For Seven Years

John Lister's picture

Phone and tablet makers could be forced to update devices for at least seven years. The proposed law would only affect Europe but, if passed, could change policies around the world.

At the moment, how long phones get security and feature updates is largely up to manufacturers. In many cases it can be as little as three years.

Critics say that brings several problems, including unfairly pressuring owners to buy new devices even when their existing one works well. That also creates environmental problems with users struggling to find responsible ways to recycle old devices.

Spare Parts Must Be Available

Such policies also bring security risks. People who choose to keep using a phone after the manufacturer no longer supports it are more likely to be the victim of malware and hacking as newly-discovered flaws remain unpatched. (Source: engadget.com)

The European Commission, which proposes new rules that apply across 27 European countries, is currently considering whether to create a legal requirement to issue updates for at least five years. However, the German government is pushing for that minimum to instead be seven years. (Source: 9to5google.com)

The time limit would also cover hardware with manufacturers required to make spare parts available for user to repair (or hire someone to repair) devices, with a maximum of five working days to deliver them. Manufacturers could charge any price for the spare parts but would need to publish a price list and could not increase the cost later on.

Manufacturers Unhappy

The European Commission also wants to bring in a reparability index that would rate devices for how easy they are to fix. That would overcome the problem of it being almost impossible to replace key components such as batteries without risking damage to a handset.

An industry group covering most major manufacturers is lobbying for much looser rules. It says any mandatory update period should be limited to seven years. It also wants the spare parts rule to be restricted to screens and batteries.

If the rules did take effect, it's uncertain how manufacturers would respond outside of Europe. It's possible they might decide it was easier to have the same policies everywhere.

What's Your Opinion?

Should this be a matter for laws or left to phone users to vote with their wallets? How long is a reasonable period to guarantee updates on phones? Have you ever felt you had to replace a phone or tablet even if the hardware still worked?

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Comments

DLStoehner's picture

I have several computers and laptops that just will not run Windows 10. So, my go to for those is Windows 8.1. I really do not like Windows 8.1. I would rather have Windows 7 on them. Imagine a world where Microsoft HAS to keep putting out Windows Update as long as the public wants to keep their old equipment.

Any one have thoughts on this?

repete.recording_14444's picture

The rest of the world should follow Europe on this. Replacing these expensive devices in as few as three years because the manufacturer won't update it is outrageous. And non-user replaceable batteries are another pet peeve. First and last one I had to have replaced by a "Fix It" place messed up the GPS, and it lasted less than a year. Now I have another $400.00 brick.

Focused100's picture

I think phones and tablets should get feature and security updates for at least 5 years.
These devices are too expensive to have them last any less time.