Android phones could soon be guaranteed five years of updates

Future Android phones and tablets could be guaranteed five years of system updates, if new EU plans come to fruition.

The EU wants manufacturers to guarantee at least three years of operating system updates and a further two years of security updates.

That’s in line with what Google and Samsung promise buyers of their devices and what Apple currently exceeds for most devices. The draft proposals are designed to prolong the lives of devices in an effort to cut electronic waste.

In the draft legislation, lawmakers say devices are often replaced before their time due to the lack of updates. The environmental cost of that is significant, the draft says.

It reads: “The steep increase in the demand for smartphones and tablets, combined their increased functionality, has resulted in increased demand for energy and materials needed to manufacture these devices on the EU market, accompanied by an increase in their associated environmental impacts. In addition, devices are often replaced prematurely by users and are, at the end of their useful life, not sufficiently reused or recycled, leading to a waste of resources.”

The EU’s impact assessment claims that increasing the lifespan of a phone or tablet by just one year could reduce the climate by around 25% of the entire mobile phone market. Beyond that, the proposed regulation claims that upping the lifespan of a phone to five years would be the equivalent of removing five million cars from the road (via Ars Technica).

The legislation also calls for manufacturers to make repair parts available for a minimum of five years after they have launched. Those include batteries, cameras, charging ports and such. Many manufacturers are already embarking in self-repair programs, but this legislation would effectively write it into law.

The overriding purpose behind the plans is to ensure phones and tablets are energy efficient and durable, that they are easy to repair, easy to upgrade and maintain and ensure it’s possible to reuse and recycle. The legislation will now enter a period of consultation.

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