EU legislators demand for the five years of updates for the Pixel 6 to be replicated across all Android phones.

While the Android ecosystem as a whole has improved in terms of long-term support and update speed, EU legislators are now pushing for a set standard for Android updates that just so happens to mirror what Google provides on the Pixel 6.

A draft regulation that is presently being discussed in the EU aims to set ecodesign standards for slate tablets, cordless phones, and mobile devices. The pace at which consumers discard cellphones and other comparable devices, which frequently results in e-waste, served as the impetus for the regulation.

According to the Commission’s conclusions regarding this new legislation, taking up to five million cars off the road in order to extend the life of these gadgets from the current 2-3 years to five years.

How does this regulation seek to advance that objective? By first setting a minimum time frame for software upgrades. At least for handsets sold in the EU, this would appear to be three years of major updates (such as Android 13, 14, etc.) and five years of security patches for an Android phone. The Android community would benefit greatly from this, as many devices’ existing lifespans are much shorter than that.

Google’s Pixel 6 now perfectly satisfies the EU’s proposed specifications, but it wasn’t always that way. Prior to this, Google only provided three years’ worth of updates, including security patches. Samsung offers major upgrades for four years and security fixes for five years, however this is not a regular offer. The support lifespans and update frequency for the company’s more cheap devices are frequently reduced. Many inexpensive devices have no established schedule for receiving updates, and companies like OnePlus have been known to all but abandon handsets after just one significant upgrade.

The EU is pressing for brands to provide repair parts and services for at least five years after a device goes on sale in addition to prolonged software support. As ArsTechnica notes, these expert repair services would also have access to the foldable device’s hinges in addition to the battery, display, camera, charging port, buttons, microphones, and speakers.

The suggestion concerning batteries is possibly much more intriguing. The draft gives manufacturers the option of either bringing back easily replaceable batteries like many prior Android phones did, or of meeting tight specifications for battery longevity.

Batteries must maintain at least 83% of their rated capacity after 500 charge cycles and 80% after 1,000 cycles in order to comply with EU regulations. After 500 charge cycles, Apple claims iPhone batteries retain roughly 80% of their advertised capacity, while more Android manufacturers don’t make this kind of assurance. According to OnePlus, the OnePlus 10T can hold 80% of its power after 1,600 recharge cycles.

Before this present plan, the EU had been promoting long-term support for smartphones in a number of other ways. Recently, USB-C was designated as made a requirement in all devices beginning in 2024, and Germany even pushed for smartphone compatibility for seven years after debut last year.

However, it would be some time before this suggestion was implemented. Feedback will be accepted through September 28. There is a one-year wait before anything actually happens, with adoption possibly occurring as soon as Q4. It is possible that many devices marketed around the world would be subject to this if it were to become law in the EU.

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