The European Union, a stronghold of environmentalism, has been “putting obstacles in the way” of consumer electronics companies for the past two years. It is also trying to standardize specifications for cell phone chargers and is preparing to force cell phone manufacturers to use replaceable batteries. Of course, the EU’s move also faces strong opposition from cell phone manufacturers.
It was reported that the European Parliament recently passed a proposal to ban the use of composite batteries in all consumer electronics in the EU, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, wireless headphones, electric scooters, and other battery-powered products. The proposal was adopted with 567 votes in favor, 67 against, and 40 abstentions.
The EU believes that the use of glue to connect batteries poses a greater risk to the environment. And it intends to increase the use of recycled raw materials in batteries, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, and lead. It is reported that the EU will negotiate with its member states to negotiate specific legislative matters. It is expected that this law will be implemented from January 1, 2023.
Currently, popular smartphones essentially use an integrated design, and there are two solutions for mounting the battery in the battery compartment. One is to stick the battery directly to the case with adhesive, and the other is to use quick-release fasteners with pull strips or easily peelable adhesive.
I believe that people who have already disassembled the unit should have the same experience. If you try to remove the battery after carefully opening the back cover, you will often find that it is stuck. For this reason, some friends use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat the glue. However, this method is extremely dangerous and can easily cause the battery to bulge or even explode if not handled properly. Many disassembly videos therefore directly use turpentine-based debonders to dissolve the cured adhesive.
As for the roll-up rubber design, people who have been disassembling their old iPhones for many years know that this design is not very reliable either. Since the roll-up adhesive also has a certain lifespan, it is not uncommon for the roll-up adhesive to peel off directly when they disassemble the iPhone battery on the Internet. Compared with the method of directly attaching the battery with glue, using a quick release, such as the Easy-Peel glue, is undoubtedly friendlier for users who want to repair the device themselves.
Does the EU only want to ban manufacturers from using glue in cell phones? Of course not, the intentions of other doors have been on the table for a long time. In this regard, a leaked document has revealed that as early as 2020, the European Union could force all smartphones sold in the country to use a removable battery in the future. However, after this document became known, it was fiercely fought by cell phone manufacturers.
There are actually three reasons why phone manufacturers want to do away with removable batteries. First, a removable battery requires metal contacts and a matching spring structure in the case, which takes up valuable space inside the phone. As SoCs have evolved toward high performance and high power consumption, it has become standard for phones to be equipped with larger cooling systems. In addition, 5G communications require the support of more components, and space inside the phone is already at a premium. The use of removable batteries means that cell phones will no longer be “light and thin,” which is a problem for consumers.
Second, the removable battery also directly contradicts the fast-charging strategy that current cell phone manufacturers rely on. To further improve the battery life of cell phones, major manufacturers have adopted fast charging technology as part of the integrated design of smartphones and are trying to improve battery life by shortening the charging time.
Third, what is the most easily worn part of a cell phone? The battery is usually the first part to reach its service life. After all, aging is irreversible with constant charging and discharging.
Under current circumstances, the price of a new battery after a cell phone has been used to the end of its life is nearly one-third of the phone’s residual value. The integrated design makes it difficult for consumers to repair the battery themselves, so the frequency with which consumers extend the life of their cell phones by replacing the battery themselves is decreasing significantly. The average life of a cell phone is two and a half years to three years, and sales could deteriorate by nearly 20% for manufacturers. Therefore, cell phone manufacturers will naturally opt for an integrated design.
To be honest, the “renaissance” of removable batteries in the cell phone industry may be what consumers want in the current market environment. For consumers, of course, the removable battery is a good thing if they are not too demanding about the appearance of the phone and do not mind that their phones could be a few dozen grams heavier.