Sick of buying a new Android phone every few years? Help is on the way

The Google Pixel 6 smartphone resting on a surface
(Image credit: Google)

The European Commission (EC) has drafted new legislation that would require Android smartphone manufacturers to offer long-term support for their devices.

Motivated by a desire to cut back on e-waste and shield consumers against predatory behavior, the proposal seeks to establish a minimum support term that will apply to all Android devices sold in the EU.

Under the new rules, vendors would have to provide customers with three years’ worth of major feature updates and five years of security patches, practically doubling the lifespan of some cheaper smartphones.

Android software support

As things stand, while some vendors offer a generous support term (the Google Pixel 6 already meets the new requirements, for example), many promise to supply updates for only a handful of years, or fail to specify.

This state of affairs creates a quandary for device owners, who can either opt for a costly upgrade, despite the fact their hardware remains fully functional, or miss out on new functionality and important security protections.

The new EU rules, in addition to limiting the environmental damage brought about by the current upgrade cycle, will allow consumers to use their mobile devices for at least half a decade before having to make another purchase.

Separately, the proposal includes measures to guard against planned obsolescence, a practice whereby a device is built deliberately to degrade over time, thereby pushing the owner to upgrade.

For example, the draft legislation asks manufacturers to meet new battery life baselines, or failing that, to bring back old-school mechanisms for swapping in replacement cells. Similarly, vendors would need to supply parts and repair services for at least five years after a device is released.

Before the legislation can be written into law, it will undergo a consultation period that runs until the end of the month. The proposal will be implemented in Q4 2022 at the earliest, with enforcement set to begin one year from the date of its introduction.

Via 9to5 Google 

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.