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New EU directive pushes toward replaceable iPhone batteries

post #1 of 156
Thread Starter 
The European Union is preparing new directives that could have an impact on Apple's future products, including "the New Batteries Directive," which proposes to mandate that batteries in electronic appliances be "readily removed" for replacement or disposal.

The EU has taken the lead in pushing for industry regulations that impact all companies that sell their products in Europe. For example, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, known as RoHS, demanded tough new limits to the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and flame retardants known as PBB and PBDE.

Every RoHS has its thorn

RoHS, which took effect in July 2006, spelled the end of Apple's standalone iSight camera, which would have required a redesign to sell in Europe. California also passed laws that made many products banned by RoHS in Europe illegal to sell in California after January 2007 as well. By 2006, Apple had integrated compliant iSight cameras into its laptops and the iMac, leaving little need for a redesigned standalone iSight camera and resulting in the cancelation of the existing product. "As a result of our precautionary approach to substances," the company reported, "Apple was able to meet many of the RoHS restrictions long before the July 2006 deadline."

Alongside RoHS, other regulations related to handling eWaste, power efficiency, and the use of chemicals have gone into effect, some of which have the force of law while others are only guidelines that EU member nations exercise some flexibility in enforcing. Early on, some manufacturers complained that tough new regulations could cause problems that outweighed the social and environmental benefits they are intended to deliver.

In particular, the industry warned that without using lead, soldered connections would be weaker and products would fail faster. At the same time, the automotive industry has discovered that RoHS' mandated lead-free solder has a high temperature resistance that actually makes it better suited to the harsh conditions of temperature, shock, and vibration in the engine bay of cars. IBM discovered new lead-free technologies that resulted in "solder waste reduction, use of bulk alloys, quicker time-to-market for products and a much lower chemical usage rate."

Assault on batteries

Introduced with RoHS, the EU's 2006 Battery Directive updated existing regulation from 1991. It primarily sought to prevent the unnecessary use of toxic metals in batteries and attempts to make it easier to properly dispose of and recycle old batteries. The directive required EU member states to implement national laws and rules on batteries by September 2008.

While the Battery Directive now in force states that it must be easy for consumers to remove batteries from electronic products, the "New Batteries Directive" now being drafted over the next year goes even further to state that electrical equipment must be designed to allow that batteries be 'readily removed' for replacement or removal at the end of product's life.

Gary Nevison, writing for New Electronics, said [PDF] "the requirement is clearly intended to ensure that users can remove batteries by opening a cover by hand or after removal of one or two screws. The producer will also have to provide the user with details on how to remove the battery safely."

The EU and Apple

Such a regulation would seem to impact Apple's integrated battery design of its iPods and the iPhone, which are somewhat unique in that their batteries are not designed to be user replaceable and typically require special tools or professional assistance to remove them. At the same time however, the directives are not yet completed or ratified, and subject to both modification and exception.

The EU's Battery Directives are designed primarily to prevent toxic batteries from ending up in landfills, not to force manufacturers to develop products with specific features. Apple already offers free recycling for iPods and iPhones. Third party vendors also offer money for dead or broken iPods, further negating much of the concern that users would throw away their iPod with the battery still inside it. The real concern involves appliances with integrated batteries that have little value at the end of their life, few recycling options, and would likely be discarded with the battery intact.

Still, just as RoHS impacted the iSight as an international product, Apple may find it easier to modify how it packages its iPod and iPhone products than to attempt to work around or gain exceptions to the New Batteries Directive now being drafted. That may result in making modular, replaceable batteries a new feature, or at least further a continuation in the efforts Apple has already made recently to deliver iPods with batteries that are not glued in and therefore easier to replace or remove during recycling.

Apple's global product line makes it extremely unlikely that the company would develop different versions of its products for European markets in order to meet the EU directives. Instead, as with the iSight, Apple is likely to make international adjustments that meet the stringent requirements of regulations like RoHS and the New Batteries Directive and therefore provide the benefits to users everywhere it sells its products.
post #2 of 156
How stupid is that? I can't believe they really mean it...
The EU really wants to tell a mobile phone manufacturer to make the batteries removable in the handsets?
Don't they have anything else to do? Like fixin' the frackin' economy or feeding the homeless or building world peace, etc... Brussels must be full of bored bureaucrats.
Next time they will ban curvy bananas or iced coffee.
post #3 of 156
How annoying. I have never had to replace a phone battery. And i like the way the iphone feels solid, with no easily broken hatch like other phones.

The EU forever get on my nerves. Wonky bananas anyone?

EDIT: you beat me to it on the bananas!
post #4 of 156
I agree this ruling makes a few assumptions that are not clealy backed with evidence.

Do people remove the battery before they discard a phone?

Do electronics with integrated batteries end up in the trash more often than electronics with removable batteries?
post #5 of 156
I am not worried about this even if it passes. By the time they finalize this proposal batteries will be more efficient and smaller. I am sure Apple engineers will come up with something innovative.
post #6 of 156
This legislation isn't very forward-looking. Any power source with an energy density like some of the new batteries are planned to have is going to be dangerous for unqualified people to handle when removed from the device...
post #7 of 156
while it would be convenient to be able to replace my iPhone battery, I do not want it to have a plastic hatch like my TV remote! bleh
post #8 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

while it would be convenient to be able to replace my iPhone battery, I do not want it to have a plastic hatch like my TV remote! bleh

If they were forced, I bet they would set it up in such a way that the entire back would slide off. That way the phone doesn't inherit an ugly hatch!
post #9 of 156
Imho, I'm hoping the EU passes this. I know I'm among the minority here, but imho there's no good reason why Apple has never had replaceable batteries for the iPods and iPhones. iPhone & iPods should have had replaceable batteries A LONG D*MN TIME AGO.

Disagree with me all you want folks, but come back to me a year after this happens and then tell me if this was a good or bad thing.

There's simply no excuse for Apple on this one. Flame away folks.
post #10 of 156
I think the point is that if the consumers want it they will mandate it. If the consumer doesn't really care they'll continue to buy cell phones that don't have removable batteries.

Personally, regardless of it I enjoy the benefits of the ruling or not, the fact that EU is using their power to mandate something that should be up to the consumers I will never support it. There are way, way too many government mandates, let the system take care of itself. As vagvoba said - get back to doing what you're paid to do...
post #11 of 156
What kind of ruling is that?
All computers have a small battery (the small disc like battery) to power the time system on the mainboard. So are computer makers going to redesign their computers to make that battery removable in 1 or 2 screws?
post #12 of 156
The iPhone 3G method--just two screws--is not bad.

But if it can be made even easier, without making the phone larger, heavier, less solid or more fragile, then that would be great!

But I wouldn't want a backplate that can be popped of and lost by accident. Suggestion: hold it in place with two screws.
post #13 of 156
I don't see the problem... I think this is a great inniative from the EU. The lack of replaceable battery limits especially the use of the Air as being ultra portable and you could design a secure fit without sacrificing the size. Steve Jobs needs to get over his desire for form over function to a degree. Yes keep the computers as simple and beautiful as possible but think of function as well.

The old iMac with the LCD 'floating' above a circular base was Steve Jobs vision of an all in one. In fact he rejected having a 'fat' everything behind the LCD... whats was the point of having a thin LCD he claimed. Well he got over his 'fancy visions' and now the iMacs are what he said he was against. Don't believe me... there is an old Time article talking about the design of the old iMac.

Hopefully innovation will be included as always to keep the iPhone battery secured properly. But honestly I have never had any issues with any of my phones, and have never heard of anyone loosing their laptop battery... And yes I have replaced batteries... on my old 11in Sony Ultraportable (twice due to shitty Sony Batteries, but was able to use the laptop the whole time and not send it in) and in my old Nokia 6680 (first 3G phone with two cameras from Nokia in Europe)

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post #14 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

As vagvoba said - get back to doing what you're paid to do...

I think you may find that IS what they are paid to do and I for one am VERY much in favor of it. Or do you not think we should have consumer and environmental protection laws?
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post #15 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

EDIT: you beat me to it on the bananas!

That is an urban myth and totally untrue.
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post #16 of 156
iPhone batteries are replaceable.

Apple simply needs to say that they (or authorized outlets) will handle it on behalf of the consumer at the end of the life of the product, and the actual cost associated with that can be included in the price up front (with complete disclosure).
post #17 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

I think the point is that if the consumers want it they will mandate it. If the consumer doesn't really care they'll continue to buy cell phones that don't have removable batteries.

Personally, regardless of it I enjoy the benefits of the ruling or not, the fact that EU is using their power to mandate something that should be up to the consumers I will never support it. There are way, way too many government mandates, let the system take care of itself. As vagvoba said - get back to doing what you're paid to do...


You have to consider that customers don't have direct control over these things, I would love a replaceable battery even if only for the principle of the thing but it wouldn't be on the top of my list of requirements for an ipod/phone. I'm all for free markets in theory, but we're screwed if we allow companies to build in obsolescence into their products.
post #18 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateKylie View Post

I don't see the problem... I think this is a great inniative from the EU. The lack of replaceable battery limits especially the use of the Air as being ultra portable and you could design a secure fit without sacrificing the size. Steve Jobs needs to get over his desire for form over function to a degree. Yes keep the computers as simple and beautiful as possible but think of function as well.

The old iMac with the LCD 'floating' above a circular base was Steve Jobs vision of an all in one. In fact he rejected having a 'fat' everything behind the LCD... whats was the point of having a thin LCD he claimed. Well he got over his 'fancy visions' and now the iMacs are what he said he was against. Don't believe me... there is an old Time article talking about the design of the old iMac.

Hopefully innovation will be included as always to keep the iPhone battery secured properly. But honestly I have never had any issues with any of my phones, and have never heard of anyone loosing their laptop battery... And yes I have replaced batteries... on my old 11in Sony Ultraportable (twice due to shitty Sony Batteries, but was able to use the laptop the whole time and not send it in) and in my old Nokia 6680 (first 3G phone with two cameras from Nokia in Europe)

You totally misunderstand the issue. It's not about the iPhone or the removable battery. The problem is that the EU should stay out of this very healthy competitive market and let the market/consumers decide what they want. The EU tries to over-regulate the free market by making non-sense rules.
post #19 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by w00master View Post

I... there's no good reason why Apple has never had replaceable batteries for the iPods and iPhones. iPhone & iPods should have had replaceable batteries A LONG D*MN TIME AGO. ...There's simply no excuse for Apple on this one. ...

This is just inaccurate.

There are reasons and good ones. You may not agree, but that doesn't invalidate the reasons.

The main reason in Apple's case is that they like the product to be thinner or smaller. Call it cosmetic, but it's a reason, and a valid one.

The second reason is that the batteries are much more likely to be recycled if they are integral as opposed to being replaceable. Several studies have indicated this.

If the EU passes this, it should have an exception for products with a free recycling program attached like the iPod, otherwise it's just regulation for the sake of regulation, since the avowed purpose of the regulation is recycling of batteries and keeping products out of landfills.

I wouldn't put it past Apple to just stop selling iPods and iPhones in Europe. It's not like they couldn't be ordered online, or bought from any one of a hundred other places just outside of Europe. The EU would have to cave eventually if Apple removed it's product. More than likely it will never come to that and there will be an exception made at the last minute for products like the iPod. That's usually how things go in Europe.
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post #20 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateKylie View Post

... Steve Jobs needs to get over his desire for form over function to a degree. Yes keep the computers as simple and beautiful as possible but think of function as well....

You are misusing the term "form over function" here. There is no loss of function in the product if the battery life exceeds the life of the product and functions well for the entire life of said product. Which is the case BTW.

There are a limited number of faulty iPods wherein the battery fails before the expected or designed life of the product is up, but one could just as easily argue that there is a loss of function in the case of a replaceable battery for the few times that the product fails when the battery falls out on to the ground.

Apple has some of the best designers and engineers on the planet working for them and they test and prototype everything dozens of times over as well as testing and monitoring their own products throughout their lifetimes. I don't understand why so many armchair designers seem to think they know better.
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post #21 of 156
This legislation is sponsored by... Nokia.

Nokia reminds all Europeans that a happy Nokia makes for a happy EU.
post #22 of 156
The iPhone 3G likely would comply with this already - it has a removable battery.

Apple should extend phone recycling programs to all countries where the iPhone is sold.
post #23 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

You are misusing the term "form over function" here. There is no loss of function in the product if the battery life exceeds the life of the product and functions well for the entire life of said product. Which is the case BTW.

The "form over function" argument is about Apple trying to shave a couple of millimeter from the plastic housing (to make the iphone smaller in physical size) and sacriface the function of end users' ability to (1) use an extended battery or (2) swap batteries.

For example, the LG Voyager comes with 2 standard batteries --- so the end users can swap them. You can also buy the optional extended battery for the Voyager.
post #24 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

For example, the LG Voyager comes with 2 standard batteries --- so the end users can swap them. You can also buy the optional extended battery for the Voyager.

What a waste of resources.
post #25 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Every RoHS has its thorn

Nice one.
post #26 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

What a waste of resources.

LG put a much smaller battery (950 mah) into the Voyager --- which led them to be able to incorporate an actual physical keyboard into the phone. The iphone has a battery that is almost 50% bigger (1400 mah). Both phones weigh the same.
post #27 of 156
Geez, this is annoying, majority of people dont bother removing their batteries, I haven't own an iPhone yet due to my country doesn't have an iPhone but honestly, no people that I know (and that is a lot), removes their phone battery, people only remove their phone battery to get to the sim and memory card.

Besides, battery life nowadays is very long, by the time the battery life starts affecting the users phone use, he or she will likely want to own another phone already. Who wants to own a 8 years old phone (used)?

What's next? Removable storage?
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post #28 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

This legislation is sponsored by... Nokia.

Nokia reminds all Europeans that a happy Nokia makes for a happy EU.

Why would you say that? That doesn't make sense.

The current iPhone already complies, you just need to remove two screws to remove the battery.
post #29 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

LG put a much smaller battery (950 mah) into the Voyager --- which led them to be able to incorporate an actual physical keyboard into the phone. The iphone has a battery that is almost 50% bigger (1400 mah). Both phones weigh the same.

So, what you are requesting is a phone with inferior batteries mandating that you switch between two power sources to obtain comparable battery life, and in return hope that you gain the keyboard that Apple will most certainly not include? By that logic they could remove the battery entirely, requiring a constant connection to a wall outlet, making room for a microwave to heat sandwiches.
post #30 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlake View Post

So, what you are requesting is a phone with inferior batteries mandating that you switch between two power sources to obtain comparable battery life, and in return hope that you gain the keyboard that Apple will most certainly not include? By that logic they could remove the battery entirely, requiring a constant connection to a wall outlet, making room for a microwave to heat sandwiches.

No, I am just saying that it's a design choice.

Remember how PC world said that iphone's battery life is on the top end in their battery tests.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/14834...ts_rivals.html

What they don't tell you is that most of the other phones have a much smaller battery.

It's a designer's choice --- apple got stuck with very lousy battery life, so they had to incorporate a much larger battery than its competitors.
post #31 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelhot View Post

What's next? Removable storage?

Why not?

It's a privacy concern that even with re-installing the OS, your data could still remain in the iphone.
post #32 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

Why not?

It's a privacy concern that even with re-installing the OS, your data could still remain in the iphone.

And you're ignoring that personal data is also stored on the built-in flash even when there is removable storage and that OS X iPhone has a secure wipe feature built-in.
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post #33 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

And you're ignoring that personal data is also stored on the built-in flash even when there is removable storage and that OS X iPhone has a secure wipe feature built-in.

And blackberries have secure wipe for that portion of flash as well --- along with removeable storage.
post #34 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

And blackberries have secure wipe for that portion of flash as well --- along with removeable storage.

So how exactly does the BB having the same feature make the iPhone "a privacy concern that even with re-installing the OS, your data could still remain in the iphone."?

Seriously! Enough with the FUD.
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post #35 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So how exactly does the BB having the same feature make the iPhone "a privacy concern that even with re-installing the OS, your data could still remain in the iphone."?

Seriously! Enough with the FUD.

It's called layers and layers of extra security.

The amount of leakage is going to depend on a lot of factors --- including the size of the built-in flash memory, the usability of remote wipe, security policies....
post #36 of 156
I'm all for replaceable batteries, it's good for the environment. Knowing Apple they'll discontinue replacing batteries for older iPhones and therefore most people will end up to throwing their older phones away because it won't be able to hold charge anymore. A phone that doesn't charge would not sell on eBay either.
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post #37 of 156
For the banana jokes, people should know that this was from more than a decade ago, when the EEC worked on different rules to enforce the "Free" Market. Back then, the logic was to have common rules for all the member countries for them to compete freely with each others. So, yes, this involved legislating on the banana size and other stuff.
Since then, it has been replaced with something that is plain evil : the substitution principle. Rather than bureaucrats, it is the least common denominator that is used. The worst country gets to tell what "X" means. For instance, England gets to tell Germany what a "sausage" is. It also gets to tell France what "chocolate" is and what is acceptable in it. Anyone who has ever "tasted" English "sausage" or "chocolate" knows how evil this principle is... But at least, Germany gets to tell England how tea is supposed to be made...
So, enough with the banana jokes, that was actually the good days when standards were made to try to pull quality up rather than bring it undergrood...

About the batteries, this is a good thing, that will have a worldwide impact. Just like RoHS. And this is not a matter than should be left to consummers, because 1) consummers don't have to deal with the consequences 2) consummers do not handle the full lifecycle of their phones. I don't know how it goes in the USA, but phones are usually recycled in Europe. This is not the responsability of the consummers, but of the resellers - you buy a new phone, you can bring the old one.
Recycling can go several ways. If the phone is still functionning, it can go to social use - for instance for the homelesses who have a vital need for mobile phones. Then, remoeable battery is a necessity, by then the built-in battery is usually dead. If the phone is out of order, it is dismantled to recycle its part. Easy access to the battery means quicker access to that important part in the recycling process. Quicker access means less money spent. The question the bureaucrats answered is who should pay - Apple or the tax-payers?
post #38 of 156
This is retarded on many levels.

First, it's not what consumers want. People may think consumers want it, but they don't, and that's why Apple doesn't do it. We'd all like to be able to easily replace the battery in the iPhone, but not when we see what it does to the size and build quality. Keep in mind for the battery to be user replaceable, there needs to be significant casing around the battery and where the battery connects to the iPhone. Doing this in a way that still provides a solid feel would not be possible without significantly increasing size or reducing capacity. The MacBook Air is even worse as the battery is a diaphragm within the case.

I have a external battery for my iPhone. There are several on the market, including some that work as cases. These are inexpensive and convenient...and hold more of a charge than the internal one does.

The bigger issue is that this regulation would cause more harm on what it's actually trying to resolve. Currently, with the iPhone, if the battery goes bad, you take it somewhere or read instructions for replacing it yourself. A pro is going to have a battery disposal system, and if you do it yourself, the instructions are going to point you towards properly disposal of the battery. On the other hand, if Joe S. Pack can just a buy a bunch of spare batteries, he's probably going to have one in the phone, one in his glove compartment, one in a drawer, one in the bottom of his tool box, etc...

They shouldn't regulate this type of stuff, but if they must, and if they were to do so with the goal of making sure batteries were properly disposed of, they'd be better off mandating that batteries must not be user replaceable like the iPhone.
post #39 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Apple simply needs to say that they (or authorized outlets) will handle it on behalf of the consumer at the end of the life of the product, and the actual cost associated with that can be included in the price up front (with complete disclosure).

Will they also do that *past* the end of life of the product? For instance, if in 5 years a country is stuck with 100,000 iPhone v1 to recycle, can it send the bulk to Apple and ask it to pay for full transportation and recycling? Or will Apple bail out and let tax-payers pay the money to dismantle the iPhones?
These legislations do not target the end users, they target the recycling process. End users have nothing to do with it, except for paying a small recycling tax, they just drop their device in the proper garbage can or they give it to their reseller. The legislation is there to cut costs on the local recycling industry by moving them to the global manufacturers. Which is also what RoHS did - it makes products easier (and safer) to recycle and thus shifts the costs from the recycling industry to the manufacturers.
post #40 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

First, it's not what consumers want.

It has very little to do with consumers... It might have more to do with citizens. And it has a lot to do with ecology and the industry.

Quote:
We'd all like to be able to easily replace the battery in the iPhone, but not when we see what it does to the size and build quality. Keep in mind for the battery to be user replaceable, there needs to be significant casing around the battery and where the battery connects to the iPhone. Doing this in a way that still provides a solid feel would not be possible without significantly increasing size or reducing capacity. The MacBook Air is even worse as the battery is a diaphragm within the case.

You don't credit Apple with much capacity for innovation and clever design...
Innovation manifests itself in the face of constraints, whether these constraints are competitions or laws. Apple will have to innovate some more. Just like the electronic industry had to innovate to comply with RoHS, the oil industry had to innovate to comply with lead free gas or the meat industry had to innovate to keep going without growth hormones and high dosage of antibiotics.

Quote:
They shouldn't regulate this type of stuff, but if they must, and if they were to do so with the goal of making sure batteries were properly disposed of

This is already done, and has been for years. Every single supermarket is required to collect used batteries and sends them to recycling. I just collect whatever used batteries I have and throw them away when I do my shopping, that's really minimal efforts.
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