Guest essay by Eric Worrall
In an act of near Soviet level micromanagement, new British rules will require mobile devices to be fastened together with removable fasteners like nuts and bolts rather than press fit.
Climate change: New rules could spell end of ‘throwaway culture’
By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst
New rules could spell the death of a “throwaway” culture in which products are bought, used briefly, then binned.
The regulations will apply to a range of everyday items such as mobile phones, textiles, electronics, batteries, construction and packaging.
They will ensure products are designed and manufactured so they last – and so they’re repairable if they go wrong.
It should mean that your phone lasts longer and proves easier to fix.
That may be especially true if the display or the battery needs changing.
It’s part of a worldwide movement called the Right to Repair, which has spawned citizens’ repair workshops in several UK cities.
The plan is being presented by the European Commission. It’s likely to create standards for the UK, too – even after Brexit.
That’s because it probably won’t be worthwhile for manufacturers to make lower-grade models that can only be sold in Britain.Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51825089
Why do I have a problem with rules requiring devices to be consumer accessible?
The reason is, it is already possible to make consumer accessible devices. There is a vast array of modular components for mobile phones, displays, small computers available online, along with instructions for how to use them, which can readily be wired together to make any kind of mobile device you can imagine.
Why hasn’t someone started taking these modules and used them to assemble consumer accessible mobile phones?
As someone who has built a phone out of consumer accessible modules, I feel qualified to answer this question.
What you end up with if you try this is a 90s style brick phone – just like the old days, when mobile phones actually were held together with nuts and bolts, and the individual electronic components were large enough to see without the aid of a microscope. All those nice removable fasteners and pluggable components take space, adding bulk and weight to the final product.
Not an issue if you are building an experimental device or a device with bespoke capabilities not available in mainstream consumer mobile phones. A big issue if you like the convenience of owning a mobile device which fits neatly in your pocket.
The people pushing these new consumer accessibility rules want you to believe they are trying to help you, and trying to help the environment. But they are actually attempting to “fix” a problem which doesn’t exist, micromanaging what consumers are allowed to own, attacking rather than promoting consumer choice.
Update (EW): Demo of someone building a DIY phone using components purchased in a Chinese electronic wet market. The Chinese government did not force component manufacturers to create a marketplace which sells the required parts, people started selling components of their own free will because there was genuine demand. The parts required to build a DIY phone are available online.