By: Nick Gambino
A few weeks ago we learned that the EU is introducing legislation that would require all smartphones to come with the capability for users to easily replace the battery. This would go into effect by 2027.
While this is easy for some smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple hasn’t ever made a replaceable battery iPhone. It seems this lack of a plan hasn’t changed even with the EU regulations going into effect.
“Sometimes there can be a bit of a conflict between the durability and the repairability,” John Ternus, the SVP of Hardware Engineering at Apple, said in a recent interview with YouTube Channel Orbit. “You can make an internal component more repairable by having it discrete and removable, but that actually inherently adds a potential failure point. By using the data we can understand what are the parts of the phone that need to be repaired and which are the ones where it’s actually better just to make them so robust that they never need to be repaired. So it’s always kind of a balance.”
But really the problem with creating a system by which users can easily remove the battery is you’re going to compromise the water-resistant or waterproof aspect of the iPhone. Apple seals the heck out of the iPhone for an IP68 rating. This makes it super tough to maintain if any Joe or Jane could just remove the back of the phone to access the battery.
The regulation by the EU states that the battery has to be easily replaced with the use of commercially available tools and not special proprietary tools owned by the manufacturer. Apple has worked toward making this easier over the years, so they are headed in the right direction. That said, durability and waterproof capability is important to users as well.
Apple might be able to argue that following this replaceable battery rule would compromise their phones and therefore would not be in the best interest of customers. If so, they may be exempt once it goes into effect in 2027. If not, then they have four years to figure out how to do it.