An iPhone with a removable battery is a horrible idea

Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad earlier this week reported that the European Union is currently drafting legislation that would legally require tech companies like Apple to make products like iPhone with removable batteries. This is a horrible idea for multiple reasons.

Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple’s flagship iPhone 11 Pro Max in Midnight Green

Michael Grothaus for Fast Company:

Contrary to what you commonly hear on online message boards, non-user-replaceable user batteries aren’t a conspiracy concocted by Samsung and Apple to pad their bottom lines through the supposedly lucrative battery-replacement market. Rather, non-user-replaceable batteries have a massive impact on creating devices that are much smaller and thinner than they otherwise would be with user-replaceable batteries… In other words, you can’t have today’s sleek designs and the same long battery life with user-replaceable batteries. You need to pick one or the other.

If you have a removable backplate so you can swap out a battery, it requires an opening almost as large as the device itself. Larger openings that take up more surface area are harder to protect against dust and water, so phones mandated to have user-replaceable batteries would likely see their dust- and water-resistance jettisoned.

The goal of user-replaceable batteries is to reduce e-waste, which is noble, [so] the EU could instead mandate that all major smartphone and device manufacturers offer free e-waste recycling initiatives to their customers — as Apple already does.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, as with the EU attempt to force Apple to dump iPhone’s Lightning port, this is more EU idiocy that — even if it does get unveiled, then passed, which it very likely won’t — Apple would never have to redesign iPhones as they already offer a removable battery: the Apple Smart Battery Case. Tack on 50 euros the the price of every iPhone and include one in every box sold in the EU. Done.

21 Comments

  1. There is a reason that no smartphones have removable batteries anymore. In spite of the grumbling of tech journalists when Apple first announced the iPhone, customers have voted with their wallets and shown that they prefer smartphones with sealed in batteries.

    Leave it to bureaucrats to give people what they don’t want…

    1. Not True. The big flaw in the “customers have voted” argument is that customers can’t choose what the market won’t sell them. Want a headphone jack? Need a card reader? Prefer tactile feedback? Too bad, you can’t even ask for them from Apple.

        1. Other companies phones can’t play my iTunes collection or import my other data. And in any case, the rest of the industry just does whatever Apple does. Apple has control that no government could ever have.

        1. It may be an issue if the Apple Smart Battery Case is unable to work when the internal battery cannot hold a charge. The question is whether the battery in the iPhone is designed to pass the voltage through the battery to get to power the system or if the external battery will be bypassing the internal battery to power the iphone during operation..

  2. Oh my god MDN, what hypocrites! You are ecstatic that Apple is going to remove Lightning and force us all to to endlessly lug big wireless charging disks (and their wires) everywhere we go. But you are angry that the EU might “force Apple to dump iPhone’s lightning port”?

    The EU never even contemplated doing that. It is you who have bought into the nonsensical idea that a Phone can only have one port. Here is a crazy idea, Ask the customers what they want. Apple couldn’t care less what we want – we can’t ask for what they won’t sell. So we need governments to force them to listen to their own customers.

    1. “So we need governments to force them to listen to their own customers.”

      No, we don’t. As others have pointed out, the best solution is a marketplace that allows competition. Remember when Apple was insisting that phones shouldn’t be bigger than a size that allowed one handed use? Samsung plowed ahead with phones that had displays larger than 5 inches and took large amounts of market share. Apple saw that happen, started making phones with larger screens, and the result was the iPhone 6 super cycle.

      The reason Apple doesn’t care about headphone jacks or card readers is because hundreds of millions of customers have no issue using phones that lack those features. In fact, many of those customers actually prefer using wireless headphones.

      Yes, I know that some people want their headphone jacks back, but you can’t please everyone. Never forget that old joke about a camel being a horse that was designed by committee.

      1. “the best solution is a marketplace that allows competition. ”

        Which would mean letting other companies make iOS phones. You can’t assume that competition will happen just because it is “allowed”. Manufacturers collude and price fix, and government is the only defense the consumer has against that. This is why the “liberal media” condemns government any time they get the chance. Where does their money come from?

  3. This EU “fear for the battery” argument is nonsense. Apple’s efforts to extend useful battery life from a few hundred cycles to 1000+ cycles has made long-life, sealed laptops, tablets, and phones possible and practical. That has reduced ewaste.

    I remember when you could remove and replace batteries in laptops and cell phones. You had to because they ran out of oomph after 18-24 months and would only work for more than 10 or 15 minutes if you left them plugged in. The batteries were proprietary and expensive, so you often bought new devices rather than buying a new battery, resulting in more ewaste, not less.

    Apple does a great job on recycling iPhones. If the EU (and the U.S.) want to do something useful, they should mandate similar programs for all vendors. Recycling Is one of the best steps that we can take to reduce our impact on the environment, along with efficiency and re-use.

    1. “Apple’s efforts to extend useful battery life ”

      But at the same time, they cripple your devices with software updates that slow devices to a crawl. There is no excuse for my iPhone 4s to take ten seconds to get a podcast playing. It’s battery is okay, and I SHOULD be able to use it as a media player, but Apple broke that for me.

  4. Personally, I’d prefer an iphone with a removable battery. And a home button and without that effin notch in the screen!

    (Same with the Mac book pro. I want a new 16″ one but HATE that Apple doesn’t let you upgrade the ram (and effin rips you off for a ram upgrade) or HD and seals in the battery. Makes me want to get a Mac Pro…)
    Funny that a company run by liberals (people who ‘care’ about the little people) seem to be out to financially profit at our expense. Gotta love liberals walking the walk, especially when they are telling us to cut back to save the world from ending due to climate change as they continue to whiz about in private jets.

    1. “Funny that a company run by liberals (people who ‘care’ about the little people) seem to be out to financially profit at our expense.”

      Correct. That’s how companies work.

    2. Supposedly, Apple builds products that suit the majority of users, so you probably don’t fall into that category which is unfortunate. Fortunately, you do have other choices with possibly some smartphone models, but as far as flagship smartphones are concerned, there aren’t any with user-replaceable batteries. I’m guessing most consumers don’t have a problem with that. I certainly don’t.

      However, I’m with you on MacBook Pros having no user-upgradeable RAM or storage. I wouldn’t think a couple of RAM slots or an M.2 NVMe slot on the motherboard would be too difficult for Apple to manage. Whatever… I can afford a higher-spec’d MacBook Pro from the get-go but my needs computing needs aren’t that high. I’m guessing most MacBook Pro users aren’t going to upgrade them anyway. As a tech-head, upgrading is a nice option, but as a low-end user, I’m not going to lose sleep over not being able to upgrade. I’ve gotten used to Apple not offering those options.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.