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Germany wants smartphone makers to offer at least seven years of security updates

Android 12 Logo + Pixel phones
Android 12 Logo + Pixel phones (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Germany has announced that it would soon require smartphone makers to support their devices for at least seven years.
  • The proposed legislation aims to protect the environment by making it easier for consumers to hold on to their phones for longer.
  • Most Android OEMs currently support their phones for three years or less.

The German federal government wants the European Union to require smartphone makers to promise at least seven years of security updates for their devices. As per Heise Online, Germany has also requested the European Union to make it mandatory for manufacturers to publish prices of spare parts and maintain the same prices for seven years.

As you would expect, smartphone makers aren't too happy with the proposed legislation. DigitalEurope, which is an industry association with Samsung, Apple, and Huawei as its members, wants regulators to make three years of security updates the norm for everyone.

Currently, most Android phones and tablets receive security updates for three years or less. The only Android devices that are guaranteed to receive four years of security updates are the best Android phones from Samsung and OnePlus. Google's upcoming Pixel 6 series phones, however, are rumored to get up to five years of Android updates.

While it remains to be seen if the European Union will accept Germany's request, the EU Commission is expected to enact its policy requiring phones to receive at least five years of security updates by 2023. Aside from requiring manufacturers to keep their devices secure, the rules also require them to make spare easily available to consumers and start using replaceable batteries.

It isn't just Europe that is pushing for Right to Repair laws. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order asking the FTC to come up with new rules to make it easier for consumers to repair devices such as phones and PCs.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
19 Comments
  • Socialists trying to kill off enterprise.
  • This is a bad thing how exactly? There are thousands of articles complaining Android doesn't offer enough updates. Mind your own business Donald 🙄. The EU is hardly socialist, look at Hungary and Poland for examples. But this is how The EU works. Countries propose ideas and if they're agreed by all 27 member states they're enacted. So the opposite of socialism.
  • Couldn't agree more. While I am a tech geek of kind, I refuse to buy a new phone every 6 month or less. Security updates, Android versions, etc. fall within the artificial requirement to always upgrade. My 6T is still running very strong and with security updates, I would simply keep it for a couple of years longer. A while back some companies tried to establish the modular phone. That makes sense. A new camera system - i'd buy that. An upgraded processor - sure. But not for >$1000 each. Phone makers need a new approach to product management and customer focus.
  • Germany is actually a very strong capitalistic economy. The political multi-party system does not continuously fall into gridlock. Regulations do protect both the enterprise as well as the customers.
  • How is this movement socialist/Marxist in general? Security isn't political, security is security.
  • More example of The UK gong back to the dark ages since Brexit :(.
  • That statement makes no sense especially since the article is about Germany
  • While I can support the idea of phones being maintained for several years this is overkill. Companies shouldn't be expected to support phones far into obsolescence. That will be one more thing that will increase the cost of devices that are already much too expensive.
  • This is going to end up requiring long term support contracts with Qualcomm for the vast majority of handsets. Those are notoriously expensive - and guess who ends up footing the bill?
  • Windows, Chromebooks, MacOS, iOS ecosystem, regularly provide ~7 yrs worth of updates. This really only impacts Android, and even Google has been trying to support the number of years updates are provided for too.
  • If passed, be prepared to pay a lot more for a phone. Let the free market run it. If you don't like how a phone is updated, get another brand.
  • 7 years maybe a bit long, most phone will not last for 7 years, the battery will give up before then, but I think 5 years is good. Also, need to stop the companies offering new phones every couple of years or so under contracts.
  • 7 years is exaggerated!
  • How many people keep their smart phones for 7 years plus? The longest I've kept one is 5 years and then it died of old age because the apps got larger and slower.
  • Of course 7 years is too long. Its called an opening offer. Not that many "wheeler dealers" in here, I see.
  • How well is a smartphone going to run with a 7th year update, especially the way manufacturers like to slow them down after 2 years?
  • Would a security update slow down the phone? If it were an os update I could see the point, but I'm not sure how a security update is going to slow a device down.
  • Only works if batteries are easily replaceable, that's leaving out how dated a 7 year old phone would be technologically...
  • Well, finally, a government pushing for something actually useful! Though to be honest, I don't think I'd keep a phone for seven years. The lack of OS updates would probably kill it anyways. Same for the apps. Nevermind the hardware itself. Way back in the day, in the stone age before "smartphones" were a thing, the longest stretch of time I held onto a (cell) phone was almost five years and that was because I didn't have to worry about security and OS updates... because there were none...LOL I don't know how feasible this would be, how it would be regulated in the real world (not on paper). I don't see any OEMs thrilled about the prospect or even willing to cooperate. Don't even know houseful it would be. Nevermind what would be happening to the pricing on individual handsets once the manufacturers almost certainly pass the cost onto the client. But at least the idea is not bad and an interesting choice to have as a consumer.