Germany pushes for phone manufacturers to offer seven years of support

midian182

Posts: 7,180   +65
Staff member
A hot potato: There’s no arguing that phones are expensive gadgets. With many costing over $1,000, most people expect to keep them for many years, but security patches and updates only last a limited time. The German government thinks consumers should get a better deal and wants the European Union to require a seven-year period for both security updates and affordable replacement parts.

The EU is currently proposing that manufacturers be required to offer five years of security updates for their devices. German publication Heise writes that Germany believes this isn’t long enough and is pushing for a seven-year mandatory period for patches and affordable replacement parts.

Unsurprisingly, tech advocacy group DigitalEurope, whose members include Samsung, Apple, and Google, isn’t as keen on the proposals. It wants the current standard of three years of security updates for mobiles, which most Android manufacturers offer, to remain in place—Samsung recently extended this to four years, while Apple usually offers five years. It also wants the spare parts requirement limited to displays and cameras.

Holding onto phones for seven years should benefit consumers beyond the financial implications. Some users continue to stay on older operating systems long after they stop receiving security patches, leaving the handsets vulnerable to attacks. Moreover, the policy should lessen the environmental impact that comes from constantly upgrading to new devices.

Android Police notes that those living in Europe might not want to get too excited just yet. Germany is in the middle of an ongoing election right now, and this could be a rare case of politicians making promises they never keep once elected. But even if it doesn’t come to pass, the EU’s five-year rule could go into effect in 2023.

Permalink to story.

 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,165   +2,221
Saw this item yesterday with both support and pushback against the measure and to me it's a chicken and egg argument: You don't get apps updated or launched for older version of phones not because of technical limitations but because there's just not enough OS support and updates at all

Yet I'm sure phone manufacturers argue that they don't update older devices simply because there's not enough Apps for them anymore so why should they bother?

It's a clever tactic that's transparently in support of planned obsolescence a.k.a. you buying more stuff even though the device you have is perfectly capable for most users. The fact that this is mandated will translate into slower sales but also into consumers not feeling like they *have to* get a new device.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,156   +198
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest. hell, some even don't mind paying more than $1500 for a phone. these people will continue to buy a new phone every other year regardless how many years of support are provided.
 

rmcrys

Posts: 73   +74
Germany does not rule the EU but it deserves a fat compliment as they pressure the EU to pass decent measures. At present most tech companies pay almost no taxes on Europe, if it wasn't the pressure in Europe they would still offer 1 year warranty and 1 year updates
 

ShadowDeath

Posts: 183   +158
Saw this item yesterday with both support and pushback against the measure and to me it's a chicken and egg argument: You don't get apps updated or launched for older version of phones not because of technical limitations but because there's just not enough OS support and updates at all

Yet I'm sure phone manufacturers argue that they don't update older devices simply because there's not enough Apps for them anymore so why should they bother?

It's a clever tactic that's transparently in support of planned obsolescence a.k.a. you buying more stuff even though the device you have is perfectly capable for most users. The fact that this is mandated will translate into slower sales but also into consumers not feeling like they *have to* get a new device.

A lot of the issues for App and OS updates on older phones isn't the lack of apps or the lack of an OS update. The root cause is the aging hardware. Batteries start to degrade the older they get/more charge cycles they go through, silicon starts to degrade the more it's used, nand flash can only be written to so many times before sectors start to fail. It's not to say that they're engineered to die or fail.... Just more like there's no incentive to make them last longer when you also have limitations like the processor not being able to handle data work loads from newer apps and OS'.

Basically I do think 5 years is pushing the limitations of support for a phone and 7 years is too much. Truth be told I think we were fine at 3 years.
 

Geralt

Posts: 688   +1,010
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest. hell, some even don't mind paying more than $1500 for a phone. these people will continue to buy a new phone every other year regardless how many years of support are provided.
Me.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,240   +2,290
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?
Very true, however, I think with phones we're getting to the point where all phones sold have 6GB or more RAM and CPU's aren't leaping in speed gains every year. I think Phones will start to become more like laptops. Microsoft support the OS on your laptop for 10+ years regardless if you bought a £300 HP or a £2000 Dell.

I personally think if this rule comes into effect in 2023 and only affects phones sold after the rule is in place, then perfect, I do think 7 years is maybe a bit too long though. The hardware tends to be in a bad way after 5 years of use.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,354   +3,440
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest. hell, some even don't mind paying more than $1500 for a phone. these people will continue to buy a new phone every other year regardless how many years of support are provided.
Nobody is forcing you to use a 7 year old phone. If you don't want it get a new one. However, if you want to use it now you will be able to without being worried about security. I don't care much about security though, I've found updates to only slow down devices and introduce stuff I never wanted, like bugs and spyware.
 

whateversa

Posts: 55   +63
I must agree that we need longer term support. Would you buy a new PC every 2 years?

My Huawei Mate 10 Pro is about 4 years old now... no more patches from what I can tell. I refuse to upgrade - the battery is still perfect (I keep it between 50% and 80% charge for max lifespan) and it works just fine. Security is my only concern... apart from the Chinese that spy on me of coarse.
 

whateversa

Posts: 55   +63
Very true, however, I think with phones we're getting to the point where all phones sold have 6GB or more RAM and CPU's aren't leaping in speed gains every year. I think Phones will start to become more like laptops. Microsoft support the OS on your laptop for 10+ years regardless if you bought a £300 HP or a £2000 Dell.

I personally think if this rule comes into effect in 2023 and only affects phones sold after the rule is in place, then perfect, I do think 7 years is maybe a bit too long though. The hardware tends to be in a bad way after 5 years of use.
A lot of the issues for App and OS updates on older phones isn't the lack of apps or the lack of an OS update. The root cause is the aging hardware. Batteries start to degrade the older they get/more charge cycles they go through, silicon starts to degrade the more it's used, nand flash can only be written to so many times before sectors start to fail. It's not to say that they're engineered to die or fail.... Just more like there's no incentive to make them last longer when you also have limitations like the processor not being able to handle data work loads from newer apps and OS'.

Basically I do think 5 years is pushing the limitations of support for a phone and 7 years is too much. Truth be told I think we were fine at 3 years.

Upgrading constantly is for the rich or those that don't look after their batteries.

I have my current phone for 4 years now - it still works perfectly... No intent to upgrade for a very long time apart from security concerns. AND my previous phone from 6 years ago I still use when I exercise as a music player. Both phone's batteries are still perfect... I keep them charged between 50% to 80% to get more lifespan...

The 4 year old phone is a Huawei Mate 10 Pro and the older one is a P9 lite. I believe other brands like Samsung use cheaper batteries and that might be why they have so much complaints.

The throw away culture is terrible for the environment as well! I guess different users place different strain on their devices... I just use a few apps... youtube every day, browser, email, telegram, whatsapp, sms...

NEVER charge to over 85% for longer life.
 

SirDigby

Posts: 838   +665
TechSpot Elite
On paper I think this is a fantastic idea, and well needed to reduce E-waste and push people away from the idea they need to upgrade every year or two.

The logistics, however, will get quite messy as the comments above prove.

On the tech hype I've been one of those people who upgrades every 2 years since I started earning, but I got a S21 Ultra back in January and plan to keep it for as long as possible. After its done, I'm thinking I'll probably hop over to an Essential phone, hoping they're still around by then!
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,165   +2,221
A lot of the issues for App and OS updates on older phones isn't the lack of apps or the lack of an OS update. The root cause is the aging hardware. Batteries start to degrade the older they get/more charge cycles they go through, silicon starts to degrade the more it's used, nand flash can only be written to so many times before sectors start to fail. It's not to say that they're engineered to die or fail.... Just more like there's no incentive to make them last longer when you also have limitations like the processor not being able to handle data work loads from newer apps and OS'.

Basically I do think 5 years is pushing the limitations of support for a phone and 7 years is too much. Truth be told I think we were fine at 3 years.
I agree is the older OS but I really, really do not agree it's the "aging hardware" as the core issue: most phones built the last 5 years can easily run a more than capable OS.

We know this because we've been running Linux (Android is at the best of times an extremely close relative of Linux) on virtually anything. It is flexible enough to cope with most of the OS level requirements.

Now concerns about memory and such could be a bit of a concern, but that points towards poorly designed hardware: Nand flash might degrade overtime yes but it's usually fairly straight forward to make user replace-able: replacing an emmc module for example would be fairly easy if not just letting users run the entire os out of a sufficiently fast micro sd card.

As for the older hardware "not being able to handle data work loads from newer apps and os" I think we should make a distinction between the two since most of the Apps available, statistically, can easily run on 5, 6 or 7 year old hardware. They're mostly web based frontends working off Java they're really not that difficult to run. The OS however is what I content is intentionally deprecated before it runs out is usefulness for no good reason other than to encourage selling newer devices.

So end of the day is that while keeping a 6 year old phone which you might have to replace the battery and the micro sd or emmc modules to keep using might not the way to go for most power users, most phone sales are for regular people and if regular people could take their phone to be "repaired" for like maybe 40 bucks and that "Repair" was basically just a bunch of updates, a new battery and new memory, most would just keep using their phones.

Again that's actually very good for consumers yet very bad for business. It's ok to forcefully encourage device manufacturers to just be a tiny bit more consumer friendly like this legislation aims to. The reasons enlisted here are either design flaws or not concerns that are based on actual limitations to the way regular people actually use their phone.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,955   +2,264
TechSpot Elite
Another problem is the laziness of app developers. I have an old iPad Mini 2 which was a fast machine when it came out, got 5 years of OS updates and is now almost 2 years past that. It still runs that 2-year old OS well but some apps are simply slow and crap to use now. Newspaper apps, which are displaying substantially the same information they have for the past 7 years: Text, photos, ads. But the performance for what is a pretty simple UI is atrocious, and that's up to the app developer only.
 

Dennis83

Posts: 33   +22
Nobody is forcing you to use a 7 year old phone. If you don't want it get a new one. However, if you want to use it now you will be able to without being worried about security. I don't care much about security though, I've found updates to only slow down devices and introduce stuff I never wanted, like bugs and spyware.

using an insecure device is not a problem until your data gets exposed. Using a modern device is not necessarily more secure but the software being capable of being more up to date because the manufacturer is supporting it, is worthwhile.

 

Dennis83

Posts: 33   +22
Germany does not rule the EU but it deserves a fat compliment as they pressure the EU to pass decent measures. At present most tech companies pay almost no taxes on Europe, if it wasn't the pressure in Europe they would still offer 1 year warranty and 1 year updates

I agree, security just comes too short, technical debt is piling up.
 

Dennis83

Posts: 33   +22
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest. hell, some even don't mind paying more than $1500 for a phone. these people will continue to buy a new phone every other year regardless how many years of support are provided.

agreed but those who do not buy a new phone are left with an insecure device and argubly newer phones, 2 - 3 years old are good enough and last much longer if taken care of.

I expect newer, modern phones to be either taken back by the manufacturer to gets exchanged for a brand new device for an hardware-update-fee or be supported much longer.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,156   +198

that's great. if that could be real I would certainly hope the eMMC 5.0 chip could make it into 7th year (considering how much Google collects your data) and 8.5mbps random 4kb read / 1mbps random 4kb write speed is really usable in Android 11.

Nobody is forcing you to use a 7 year old phone. If you don't want it get a new one. However, if you want to use it now you will be able to without being worried about security. I don't care much about security though, I've found updates to only slow down devices and introduce stuff I never wanted, like bugs and spyware.

so what's the point of asking for 7 years of support if only 0.01% are using it? so the manufacturers can charge more and make the 99.99% pay for it? these greedy corporates will continue to line up their pockets and asking for things like this will only make them charge consumers more.

look I'm not too happy with 3-years of Android support, but asking for twice than that will not come cheap. once Samsung agreed to 7 years of support, don't be surprised if their next flagship costs north of $2500.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 474   +511
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. imagine you're still using Samsung S5 with 28nm SD801 and 2GB RAM and somehow it's patched and you can run Android 11 on it. do you even want to?

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest. hell, some even don't mind paying more than $1500 for a phone. these people will continue to buy a new phone every other year regardless how many years of support are provided.

I'm still using a Galaxy S4, running Android 11 thanks to LineageOS. Works better, faster and using less memory than the stock Android 4.4 rom.

Like you pointed out in another post, the storage is slower than I would like, but only marginally slower than currently sold low-end and mid-tier devices. Android 11 is perfectly usable on it and still faster and more responsive than the stock rom in balanced energy mode (it flies in performance mode but that only gives me 3 - 4 hours of battery life).

I'm also running lots of current build apps, and they perform much better on it than in currently supported low end devices.

Nobody is forcing you to use a 7 year old phone. If you don't want it get a new one. However, if you want to use it now you will be able to without being worried about security. I don't care much about security though, I've found updates to only slow down devices and introduce stuff I never wanted, like bugs and spyware.

agreed but those who do not buy a new phone are left with an insecure device and argubly newer phones, 2 - 3 years old are good enough and last much longer if taken care of.

I expect newer, modern phones to be either taken back by the manufacturer to gets exchanged for a brand new device for an hardware-update-fee or be supported much longer.

It's not only about security. Current app builds don't support old Android versions, and if you need an app that isn't currently installed on your old phone, Google Play doesn't give the option of installing an older version that's compatible with the Android version you're running (it's one of the main reasons I hate walled garden app stores with a passion, and much prefer the Windows paradigm of download app from devs website and install).

That's not even planned obsolence. It's FORCED obsolence.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,156   +198
I'm still using a Galaxy S4, running Android 11 thanks to LineageOS. Works better, faster and using less memory than the stock Android 4.4 rom.

Like you pointed out in another post, the storage is slower than I would like, but only marginally slower than currently sold low-end and mid-tier devices. Android 11 is perfectly usable on it and still faster and more responsive than the stock rom in balanced energy mode (it flies in performance mode but that only gives me 3 - 4 hours of battery life).

I'm also running lots of current build apps, and they perform much better on it than in currently supported low end devices.

It's not only about security. Current app builds don't support old Android versions, and if you need an app that isn't currently installed on your old phone, Google Play doesn't give the option of installing an older version that's compatible with the Android version you're running (it's one of the main reasons I hate walled garden app stores with a passion, and much prefer the Windows paradigm of download app from devs website and install).

That's not even planned obsolence. It's FORCED obsolence.

that's actually impressive. having it run 7 iterations of Android released after and it's working faster than the stock kitkat with horrendous touchwiz I presume. what a bunch of crap Samsung put back then huh?
 

rmcrys

Posts: 73   +74
This sounds great but I doubt any of you would want to use 7-yo phone. ...

I'm all about right-to-repair but I think the biggest culprit is consumerism. majority of the people are itchy if they don't use the latest and greatest.

Consume is necessary or you would still have in 2021 the same hardware as 5 years ago; nevertheless we need a balance, that balance would be in the firm that *every* small device (Smartphones, laptops, kids devices, portable consoles, etc) should be charged over USB-C, battery replaced, etc
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,354   +3,440
so what's the point of asking for 7 years of support if only 0.01% are using it? so the manufacturers can charge more and make the 99.99% pay for it? these greedy corporates will continue to line up their pockets and asking for things like this will only make them charge consumers more.
It's 0.01% exactly because old phones are not supported, it would be higher it they were. If phone companies ramp up prices then just don't buy them at those prices. I'll say it doesn't have to be 7 years, but maybe 4-5 would be reasonable.
 

Reehahs

Posts: 1,278   +948
That's a step in the right direction. Most consumer products with crappy one year warranties should be banned from sale. The best thing you can do for the environment is to keep using what you got for as long as you can.
 

Austinturner

Posts: 296   +355
I just upgraded from an iPhone 7 after 4.5 years (work phone and I changed jobs), I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with it, will possibly keep my iphone 12 that long again unless outrageous repair costs make it uneconomical to keep that long.

I plan to upgrade my 2015 ipad next year, its fine but I’m hoping there will be a much nicer screen and that the youtube app will support 4k.

7 years is reasonable I think.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 342   +320
I am not sure if Germany or EU actually thought through before asking manufacturers to extend support. 5 years is a quite a long time, and 7 is very long. While on the surface, it seems that consumers will benefit from it, but in actual fact, if this comes to past, consumers will just pay more upfront for their devices. Longer support is a liability and cost to the manufacturers. And since this is specific to the EU, it is not impossible for them to sell the devices there at a price that will cover for the cost of support.