Your next smartphone must be updated for at least 5 years

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Samsung bragged about itAll like Google : the Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 will benefit from 7 years of software support. A duration that competes or even exceeds what Apple can do on its iPhones. And while it is pleasant to see manufacturers finally taking the issues of software obsolescence seriously (and by extension those of hardware renewal), all these electronics multinationals are unfortunately not doing this solely out of ecological awareness.

In reality, Apple, Google, Samsung and all the other manufacturers who will soon follow suit are only preparing for a new European regulation which will come into force in June 2025. Regulation 2023/1670by its nickname, will in fact require smartphone manufacturers to deploy updates for at least 5 years after a device is placed on the market.

An upheaval in the Android world

Published in Official newspaper of the European Union on June 16, 2023, the text “establishing ecodesign requirements for smartphones” also specifies that these updates must be “accessible free of charge“In addition, updates, whether they relate to the security or functionality of a device, should be made available four to six months after the release of the source code, or after the deployment of the system.”on any other product of the same brand“.

If this is not likely to fundamentally change the situation for Apple products, which historically benefit from fairly good software monitoring, this text could profoundly shake up the small world of Android mobiles. Some manufacturers actually display a catastrophic history regarding the software tracking of their devices. Smartphones are sometimes abandoned after one or two years or simply never receive the monthly security patches deployed by Google. In this context, no wonder that a Samsung or a Google tries to stand out by offering better than the legal minimum on smartphones sold for more than €1000.

But even beyond the direct effect that such a measure could have on the renewal of terminals, it is also good news for the refurbished market.

One more argument for reconditioned

This is an additional argument for us“, immediately admits Christophe Brunot, co-founder of Largo, a cell phone and tablet refurbisher. Irrigated by phones most often displaying several years on the clock, the refurbished market will still be able to promote the promise of frequent updates for second-hand phones, which was not necessarily the case before.

According to Arcep, the duration of use of a smartphone before renewal is between 36 months and 40 months. Even after its first life, a refurbished smartphone could therefore still have two years of updates in stock. Enough to reassure potential buyers, points out Christophe Brunot. “It is especially on the security layer that this will make a difference“, explains the CEO.

The end of entry-level mobiles?

Future legislation could, however, have an unexpected side effect, reducing the market for entry-level/mid-range phones to a crawl. Low-cost phones are often those that are abandoned the most quickly from a software point of view, manufacturers not wishing to dedicate resources to mobiles generating so little margin. But here too, the reconditioners think they have a card to play.

It's very good news that there is less competition in the mid-range“, admits Christophe Brunot. For the CEO of Largo, the market could be reconfigured around a high-end offering made up of new products and a mid-range offering provided by reconditioned products. “The average purchase price of a refurbished phone rises every year. From 250 € a few years ago, we went to 400 and some today“. Which is exactly the price of current mid-range mobiles. There remains the thorny subject of entry-level phones under €200, which risk being sidelined without any replacement solution.

Stricter legislative regulation of the issue of software updates is a good thing to solve the problem of premature renewal of devices caused by an out-of-date system, which leaves them without protection against online threats. We can, however, regret that Brussels limited itself to five years of monitoring, while actors like Arcep estimate that certain mobiles could last ten years.

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