Monday, August 15, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Products’ Useful Lifespans Should Be Longer Than Their Batteries

Nick Heer:

An embedded, irreplaceable battery makes a lot of sense in many products. It means devoting less space to connectors and hatches, and does not require designers to work around available battery formats. For the length of time the batteries are usable, it can make for much better products. People clearly agree — AirPods are so good that many people who never spent more than $20 or $30 on headphones before are spending hundreds of dollars on a set. But it limits a product’s lifespan to its sole consumable part, which seems silly if you think about it.

[…]

It sure seems as though the things I like about AirPods may not be possible if the batteries were more easily swappable, but it is hard to know for sure. Would they last nearly as long? Could they be so compact? Is it possible to design AirPods around easily-obtainable batteries? I wish Apple would prioritize that sort of thing, as it does seem irresponsible to sell such a disposable product.

Geoffrey Fowler:

So let’s revive Neistat’s radical act of transparency and demand to know when gadgets are designed to die. If companies won’t come clean on their own, let’s require a label right there on the shelf that lists the battery recharge count and how much it costs to replace the battery.

Previously:

7 Comments

Old Unix Geek

An embedded, irreplaceable battery makes a lot of sense in many products. It means devoting less space to connectors and hatches, and does not require designers to work around available battery formats. For the length of time the batteries are usable, it can make for much better products

Could not disagree more. The first order consequences might be nice, but the second order consequences matter much more: does it stop working? Is it more waste going into the landfill? Can we afford such profligacy on a planet nearing 8 billion human beings? I can still use things that run on AA batteries from my youth. That's a standard that was introduced in 1907 and is still running strong. Disposable batteries in practice mean planned obsolescence.

I just got a spare part for my KOSS PortaPro which I bought in 2002. The part was free, because of the lifetime warranty.

I can't use in-ear headphones because they just fall out of my ears within seconds. If I were to switch to wireless I would buy KOSS again - their warranty really delivers what it promises. But the PortaPro is still working fine, so I don't need new headphones any time soon...

Given the state of the world atm, I think we need to have laws that website that most things are easily repairable, and that parts like screens, batteries, pumps on dishwashers etc, are easily replaceable by the owner.

"But people prefers sleeker products" is no excuse anymore.

People deserve a functioning ecology.

The EU is working on a new law that will mandate serviceability of batteries in consumer electronics. The details are still being negotiated in the legislative process, but it looks like iPhones and also AirPods will be covered by the law. Recent press coverage suggests, that the law will apply from 2024 onwards.

Off course every law will have some room for interpretation. Will be interesting to see what Apple and the industry at large will do with it.

France has already a compulsory rating system for repairability. It is clearly displayed for Macs on Apple.fr but somehow quite hidden for iPhones.

>"But people prefers sleeker products" is no excuse anymore.

I can kind of see that, but 1) it doesn't seem like individual choices factor in much into mitigating climate change anyway, and 2) I would guess that cars factor in much more than consumer electronics do. So if we're going down that road of banning devices with irreplaceable batteries, let's also ban SUVs.

Old Unix Geek

@Sören: By all means ban SUVs where they aren't necessary (cities, suburbia). But some people live in rural places where 4 wheel drive vehicles are actually necessary. (E.g. where it snows half the year, and the roads aren't flat).

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