Phones Could Get Replaceable Batteries By Law

John Lister's picture

Phone manufacturers may be forced to make batteries easily removable. The proposed European rule could have worldwide consequences.

Were the rules to become law, they would affect 27 countries that are members of the European Parliament. For global manufacturers, most notably Apple, that could mean such a significant change to their handset design that they find it simpler to replicate it in all markets.

Politicians from the European Parliament and the technology ministers from each country have agreed to the changes in principle. They'll now have to go through the lawmaking process before they can take effect.

If and when that happens, manufacturers will have three and a half years before "portable batteries in appliances must be designed so that consumers can easily remove and replace them themselves."

Performance Labels Required

Batteries will also need either a label carrying information about the battery or a QR code pointing to a website. The information must include the "capacity, performance, durability [and] chemical composition" of the battery. (Source:

Most of the detail of the proposals is about making batteries more sustainable and reducing electronic waste. Making batteries easily removable and replaceable might seem counter to that, but the target here is indirect waste. The idea is that a replaceable battery makes it more likely the device itself will be usable for longer.

Possible Loopholes

The precise wording of the final rules could be important. Simply making it physically possible to remove a battery might not be enough to make it meaningfully replaceable. Users will also need to be able to source a replacement battery at a reasonable price.

The effects could also depend on whether manufacturers try to limit the use of third-party batteries, either by voiding warranties or putting technological blocks or limitations in the handset itself.

It's only the latest in a series of European rules that affect smartphones. These include a requirement for USB-C charging ports by 2024 to reduce the need to buy dedicated chargers for a new phone. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you agree with these rules? Have you ever stopped using a phone because you couldn't replace the battery? Do you think Apple will introduce replaceable batteries in all countries?

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edhead_14862's picture

I love the "old days" of being able to swap out my old Blackberry batteries. I always kept a charged spare in my pocket (at least during my commute, different story when at home).

But, what effect does this have on the waterproof/water-resistant ratings of said devices? Have to admit, it's pretty =nice not having to worry about having a phone in your pocket when caught in a rain storm.

This would probably also do away with the sweet rear glass on many phones today.

Provided that the devices are still waterproof/water-resistant, I'm all for this.

imallett_8441's picture

I had a Galaxy S5 for years and replaced the battery once (or maybe twice). I kept that phone until the phone itself died. Wish I could do the same with my S21 Ultra. Unless you follow "fashion" an older phone is fine, for maybe 5 years.

I still have an iPhone 4S and I still use it when I want a nice compact phone to carry round. It stall makes calls, gets me onto Google etc

repete_14444's picture

All of our mobile phones up to the S5 had replaceable batteries. The first one I had with a non user-replaceable battery was a Nexus 5x. The battery in it swelled up so I took it to a U.B.I.F. repair shop. They replaced the battery but the phone GPS was way off from then on, even after they tried fixing it again. The battery also was losing capacity faster than the original so I ended up replacing the phone. I hope the rules go into effect for at least 50% of a manufacturer's phones. As for waterproofing, a plastic zipper bag is enough to protect my phone in my pocket and IP68 rated pouches are readily available for those who might dunk theirs in the pool, etc.

bfunkhouser3_10862's picture

Up until my Samsung Galaxy S5, I think, all of my phones had replaceable batteries. I have a Galaxy S9 now which is in great shape and works well, but because it is a few years old,Samsung doesn't send out patches anymore. I had hoped I would get the patch from Google in Dec unless it is taking a while before sends it out, which sometimes happens, but I doubt I will get it. So even if I can replace the battery, unless something changes, I no longer would get security patches after a few years. With more vulnerabilities being found, I want so keep my phone patched.

ehowland's picture

Unfortunately (having taken them apart) this is no longer an option. So many are totally glued in and a nightmare to get out and replace! If it is a lousy battery, replace again... Glass backs can crack each time on certain phones too, so a battery change is often lose waterproof status/warranty (if still in effect) and repalce glass back... Belive it or iphone 5 and up Apple phones are easier than the last couple of "cheap" Moto (Motorola) phones I took apart. Most recent I replaced (buldging battery on Note 8 (Samsung) was horrrid! NOT at all an end user task! I almost did not bother (it sat6 for a year till I thought of a way to get it out)! Generic battery choice is also a total roll of the dice...

Focused100's picture

Replaceable batteries are fine. I'm all for it. However, as a recent commenter stated, security updates are just as important. If not more important.

ehowland's picture

totally agree!

ronangel1's picture

Apart from not using good but overpriced apple products I never buy a phone the battery cant be swapped out easily with no tools.

nate04pa's picture

1. Making battery replacement difficult or almost impossible ensures people will have to buy new phones periodically. Same for failing to provide security patches.

2. Cell phone manufacturers most likely do not make the batteries - they buy them from a vendor. If replaceable batteries become common, the vendors will supply them.

kevinb478's picture

it would be nice to be able to replace the battery I had a phone where the battery was bad wouldn't hold a full charge had it on the charger while I was at work and then when I got home it was completely dead ended up having to buy and new phone which are not cheap if you want a good phone