EN45554 - assessing the repairability of your smartphone

Hi all, Grea things are afoot!

EN45554 - assessing the repairability of your smartphone

madbilly madbilly
Super User  / 

Hi all,

Grea things are afoot! 😃

As well as the promising progress of the right-to-repair movement, which I shared the petition for earlier, the EU itself is moving forward with ways to ensure that consumer electronics, including smartphones, are easier to repair overall.

A new standard has been agreed for "General methods for the assessment of the ability to repair, reuse and upgrade energy-related products", in other words - repairability scores.

Some of you might be familiar with iFixit, the website which provides information on the disassembly, repair and reassembly of smartphones and other electronic items. They were heavily involved in the development of this standard and found themselves fighting against many people in the electronics industry to get what many EU citizens consider to be the morally correct approach.

EU "barometer survey" on public attitudes to environmental issues:

The industry's motives are fairly well known and no surprise - to be profitable and maximise return on investment for their shareholders, that's capitalism! 😆

Are HMD any different? As far as I can tell, no they are not. However, it would be unfair to identify any single manufacturer in this case, as I believe most take the same approach and when they see one vendor having greater success they tend to copy that approach. Hence why we see so many smartphones now which are very difficult to repair, a trend started by Apple and based on their success other vendors clearly think that this is a good business model! The same reason that repair information and spare parts cannot be obtained outside of authorised repair networks - a model which has brought Apple a lot of profits. I did say it would be unfair to identify any single manufacturer, but let's give "credit" to Apple for popularising this morally bankrupt approach 😉

HMD are in the same market as everyone else, they are selling smartphones and they need to sell as many for as large a profit margin as possible to satisfy their investors. If they make their phones last longer, or be easily repairable outside of their authorised service network, then they may* potentially lose revenue from resale, licensing fees or spare parts sales. In addition, some industrial designers would argue that they cannot design an easily repairable smartphone given current industry trends for aesthetics, and a repairable smartphone would not be aesthetically attractive enough to sell sufficient numbers. I think this is why HMD are selling so many glass sandwich phones, rather than the metal backed phones with easily replaceable batteries which many of us would prefer.

*I say may because this is a gamble, a balance of risk. I personally believe that a long term sustainable business model which encourages loyalty through product longevity and easy repairability is actually more attractive, however, I'm not an entrepreneur and not responsible for the billions of € of investment that HMD have been given 😉 HMD are targeting growth, and growth requires lots of sales, hence their strategy and approach to industrial design, in my opinion.

Some of HMD's devices are more repairable than others. The cheaper phones tend to have a less complicated construction and probably use off the shelf parts. Some actually do have easily replaceable batteries 😃 But the flagships, and mid-range devices, are sadly as unrepairable as the vast majority of smartphones one can buy.

The EU's intention seems to be that this repairability score will be displayed in the same way that energy efficiency scores are displayed - at the point of sale, next to the device. I've mentioned before that in France retailers are apparently obliged to show at the point of sale how long spare parts will be available for, and now there is an optional system for retailers to show durability and repairability at the point of sale, but I struggled to find examples. Fnac apparently do this, but I still struggle to find phones on their website with this information.

Do you have any examples of retailers doing this in your country? Please share.

Cheers 🙂

Comments

  • user123 user123
    ✭✭✭  / 

    One thing for sure.

    Nokia is not for POWER USER

  • singhnsk singhnsk
    Super User  / 

    Ah! I think I had greater expectations from this. I was hoping for a "forced implementation" - Make your phone repairable, else don't sell it here.

    My take is that in its planned form, the "Repairability Score" will just be a number. The consumers will happily take the sleeker, thinner and more appealing product instead of the one that is more reparable. That's our tendency as humans, else we'd have never seen this trend of having less repairable products. I agree that the choice was pulled away from us over time, but it shouldn't have if we as a consumer were more demanding about having a repairable phone.

    My laptop several years ago used to have separate sections at the back side. I remove one screw and take off the cover and I can change the HDD, similar for the RAM, WiFi card and the CPU fan too. And my modern, more expensive laptop needs full housing and motherboard to be removed before I can touch any of the components for a replacement.

    I wish this becomes more of an implication though. They should at least have a minimum repairability base score which is absolutely needed. And this should comprise of few essentials - how easy is it to get into the phone & replace the screen and the battery. Screen and battery are the most common repairs and if they are handled well, the smartphone has a solid life to live. No matter how strong the Nokia 6.1 was built, I've hated that the screen so nicely affixed was to be removed to touch anything that is inside and that means risking the screen every time a repair is to be conducted.

  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  / 

    Hi @singhnsk,

    The forced implementation of "make your phone repairable" is another strand of the work taking place within the European Commission, Parliament, etc. I think that compulsory implementation will follow the implementation of any Right to Repair and this voluntary scoring method will eventually become compulsory, just like energy efficiency labeling.

    I think the repairability score will initially have more impact on larger items which people expect to last longer, like white goods (washing machines, fridges, dishwashers, etc) and televisions or other home entertainment devices plus computers and laptops. These items are the ones which people generally find more frustrating to have to repair, because they expect them to last for several years, whereas the mobile phone industry has conditioned us to expect to upgrade a phone very 2 years anyway, so longer lifetime is less of a concern to us...

    ...however, that is beginning to change and the attitude of manufacturers to increase their profits by making their phones irreparable is making people slowly realise that they expect these devices to be reparable too.

    I expect that any legislation will focus on large items first and gradually get implemented on smaller items later. First, the right to repair rules will come in requiring minimum information for repair and spare parts availability, probably together with mandatory repairability scoring. Then later we will have a minimum repairability score before a product can be sold in the EU.

    Cheers 🙂

  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  / 

    Hi all,

    I had a look around fnac.com (French electronics retailer) and the only Nokia phones which they provide their repairability score for are the 3.2 (2.2/10) and the 4.2 (3.1/10) - low scores! Unfortunately the labo.fnac.com reports don't actually explain how these scores were achieved.

    In comparison - and I've no idea how these scores were achieved - Huawei P30 Lite gets 10/10 or 9/10 depending on exactly which listing is looked at! I think these might be errors because there are no tests on labo.fnac.com for this model.

    Looking at other smartphone models which also have this score noted, the scores for the 3.2 and 4.2 are fairly comparable to others, so HMD aren't noteworthy in this regard, just as bad as everyone else... Here's an explanation of LaboFnac's methodology: https://www.androidpit.com/repairable-smartphones

    Note that the Fairphone 3 is obviously top, and the second best is the Samsung A70! 4.4/10... for the second best score! 🤨 Average score is apparently 2.29/10! 😡

    For a wider ranging (and easier - oh buy fnac.com make this info hard to find and impossible to filter or base a decision on!) look at smartphone repairability here are the iFixit scores: https://www.ifixit.com/smartphone-repairability?sort=date

    However, Nokia models have not been tested since the N8! Incredible, this shows how US focused this website was in the past.

    Does anyone else know any repairability assessment for HMD's Nokia phones?

    Cheers 🙂

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