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EU wants to enforce 5 years of security and 3 years of OS updates for all phones

Regulators also want phone makers to provide repair parts for at least five years.

Published onSeptember 5, 2022

Google vs Samsung Software Update 2
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • European Commission regulators have proposed minimum update requirements for smartphones.
  • The lawmakers have also suggested that smartphones and tablets sold in the EU region should have repair parts available for at least five years.

EU lawmakers have proposed sweeping requirements for smartphones sold in the region (h/t arstechnica). The regulators have suggested that phone vendors provide at least five years of security updates and three years of OS updates to their devices. Moreover, the said security and operating system updates should reach users “at the latest two months after the public release.”

If enforced, these rules could fundamentally shift the way Android OEMs handle software support for their devices. Samsung and Google are the only brands that promise five years of security updates to their phones. Even so, not all of their devices enjoy these benefits. Samsung also issues four major Android updates to its premium devices, the longest in the Androidsphere. In comparison, Google and other brands provide three or fewer major OS updates for select devices.

A regulation like this could force companies to roll out longer updates not just for their flagship phones but also for the less premium, budget devices that usually don’t get long-term update commitments from manufacturers.

The draft regulations also dictate that the battery capacity of a device “shall not deteriorate after an operating system software update or a firmware update when measured with the same test standard originally used for the declaration of conformity.” They also state, “No performance change shall occur as a result of rejecting the update, except for third-party application software.”

Extending the life of phones

Elsewhere, the draft rules suggest that smartphones and tablets sold in the EU region should have spare parts, including batteries, displays, cameras, charging ports, and more, available for at least five years.

The draft notes, “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.” Extending their life from two to three years to five years would be like taking millions of cars off the road, per the European Commission’s findings.

Europe has been leading the way forward for smartphone regulations in recent times. The region recently passed a law requiring all smartphones to feature USB-C charging by 2024. The latest proposed regulations are even more aggressive in nature and could fundamentally alter the Android phone landscape if adopted.

The Europan Commission is currently collecting feedback on the draft rules. Some of the proposals could come into effect by the end of the year, and most of them would be adopted 12 months after they are approved.

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