Apple's iPhones are famous, and not in the notorious kind, for their software update longevity, with the team from Cupertino guaranteeing a few more years of new iOS versions for old iPhones than Android version updates for the competition.
So far, this has been one of Apple's phones main competitive advantage on the marketplace, but Germany wants to level the playing field between mobile operating systems when it comes updates, and among manufacturers when it comes to repairs.
7 years of iOS and Android security updates
Not in Tibet, but in Android and iOS land, demands Germany
, upping the respective European Commission (EC) ante from last month that prepped a law to force the tech giants to provide at least 5 years of software updates and replacement parts production for their wares.
Needless to say, this is all done in defence of recycling, repairability, and the environment - if people kept their phones longer, there would be much less electronic waste in the landfills, especially toxic materials from lithium batteries.
Thus, while the EC wants to task phone makers with providing spare parts at reasonable prices for at least five years, and offering at least security, if not OS, updates during that time, the German federal government is thinking of mandating a seven year period.
What about iPhone battery replacements?
We shudder to think the state of your phone's battery after that amount of time but on the other hand the "spare parts" section includes battery replacements as well. On the topic of batteries, in fact, the EC asks for at least 80% charge left after 500 cycles, but for batteries that the user can easily swap, otherwise phones should carry a 1000-cycle battery.
In any case, the so-called DigitalEurope association that includes Apple, Google, and Samsung, is out with a counteroffer for three years of security updates and parts production, or two years when it comes to grand OS version updates. They also want a transitionary period in which they can use 800-cycle batteries, or, roughly the state we are in now, instead of the 100 cycles that the EC demands for unibody phones whose packs can't easily be replaced.
The tech giants are also proposing that the spare parts price and availability regulations only include displays and batteries as the other components give up the ghost with more rarity, so they would hardly see eye to eye with Germany's seven years of updates demand.
The country's regulators also demand repair turnaround times that are shorter than the EC's requested 5-day period, noting that the user may simply opt for a new device if they know that repairs and part shipments would take too long.
We'll see who prevails in the end, but Germany is certainly able to drive a hard bargain with its influence over European affairs, so we doubt that two or three years of security updates and parts inventory maintenance would cut it now.