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There is now a European standard for measuring how easy it is to repair stuff (ifixit.com)
492 points by kackbein 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 195 comments

Whenever repairability of modern electronic devices is discussed, I have to look at my mechanical wristwatch. Yes, there is an enormeous amount of technology integrated into a smartphone or compact laptop, but my wristwatch contains over 100 moving parts in a tiny volume. And still, every trained watchmaker can open and service it. It requires specialized tools, but those have been avialable to watchmakers for hundreds of years. A time traveller could buy a current Rolex and have it serviced in 1950, possibly even in 1850. The watchmakers of those times wouldn't have access to the right spare parts - those are surprisingly high-tech, but basic service would be possible.

And that is why I cannot stand the current state of repairs in the electronic world. I am especially looking at Apple in this respect, because they have demonstrated a surprising skill at making things repairable, which they want to be serviceable. Just look at the brilliant mount for the USB ports in the new Air.

While end-user serviceability might not be desirable for something highly-integrated, the benchmark really should be whether someone trained like a watch-maker has the ability to service a device. Which would be great for the local economy wherever in the world a customer is, because traditionally most towns would have at least one watchmaker, a well paid professional who would keep the money local vs. creating more electronic waste and shipping a new device around the world.

Apple seems to be one of the worst offenders in terms of repairability of their devices. You can watch e.g. Louis Rossmann's videos on Youtube, he goes into great detail on how Apple tries to make it impossible for anyone except themselves to service their laptops, even going as far as to restrict market suppliers from selling specific microchips (that were not invented by Apple) to anyone but Apple.

I imagine this will only become worse as they switch to their own CPUs in the near future. I expect that Macs will become more like iPhones in that Apple will restrict more and more which software you can easily run on them and how you can extend the devices.

Other manufacturers like Dell or Lenovo do a much better job in terms of repairability IMHO: They build their machines with mostly standard components that can be easily replaced and make them easy to open and service. Compare that to recent Apple devices: If you want more RAM or storage in your device they charge you 5-10 times the market price. They also make sure you will never be able to upgrade those things yourself by soldering them to the mainboard.

I watched one of Louis' videos[0] yesterday where he doesn't think Apple's ARM transition won't make things harder. He mentions that CPU failure is rare, and replacement CPUs aren't easy to get today, because they are salvaged from other machines, and can't be ordered from places like Newegg or Amazon. Almost all of his repairs involve components that aren't the CPU.

[0] https://youtu.be/T_2LnFAGypM?t=175

Switching away from a PC architecture is the issue more than moving to using an ARM CPU in particular.

Not to someone already repairing ipads/iphones.

On the other side, Apple’s approach means I’ve been able to re-capture about 50%+ of my 3-4 year old MacBook Airs by parting them out, instead of nearly 0 for commodity laptops.

It really reduced my TCO instead of letting that get captured by 3rd party manufactures.

I don't think it will get especially worse with the switch to their own silicon. It is not as if you could exchange the CPU in your current Mac either, with the possible exception of the Mac Pro. Same with the software. The pure fact that they demonstrated a Linux VM in the keynote shows, that they understand at least the requirements of the Mac users.

I'm really not bothered by this.

While I appreciate the right to repair, I don't think a lot of stuff is repairable with any reasonably easy to obtain equipment these days. It's limiting all repairs to FRU replacement. I can rework everything down to 0402's and MSOP packages but BGAs and things like that, forget it.

We really should be fighting for better consumer rights legislation in our respective countries where we don't have to resort to repairing our own devices because they had designed in lifespans. You should be able to walk into the store you bought your device from in 5 years and say "it failed" and get an unconditional repair or replacement without a single argument.

We have that here in the UK under CRA 2015 and Apple have honoured repairs I've taken in there up to 5 years old without question. In fact I got given a brand new 6s after 3 years when the display developed a cosmetic backlight fault. The old one was recycled I assume and turned into other iPhones. That's where we should be.

Fear of things breaking is really a big problem with expensive technology items. Removing that fear and cost though legislation changes is the best outcome. Not the right to repair which is honestly beyond most people I have encountered, including so-called professional repairers. Involving third parties and self-repairs is walking around the problem which is why the manufacturers are surprisingly silent on this. It's a better outcome for the manufacturers than actually forcing the manufacturers to support their devices for a reasonable lifespan.

"Recycling" in the context of electronics means that a few rare minerals (gold) get extracted, and the rest (ie. almost everything) ends up in landfills or as filler for roads at best. It's a very energy intensive process with often murky environmental effects, and defintely not just "used to make nee iPhones". Unfortunately!

That's why the phrase is "reduce, reuse, and if all else fails, recycle" and why Apple (and others) are indeed in the wrong when they don't design their products for repairability and long life.

Unfortunately modern computing trends make "reuse" pretty difficult too, what with software bloat and increasing layers of abstraction ensuring that everything becomes slower and slower over time, possibly just so that you will buy new hardware. Wastefulness in computing is a decade+ long epidemic.

Not that long ago users here were talking about 3 seconds to launch a word processor being "pretty good", which is an insane statement to make when you're taking about multicore processors that can execute multiple instructions per cycle and run at 3 billion cycles per second. Modern software is the computing equivalent of burning rainforests to roast marshmallows.

Wastefulness in computing is a decade+ long epidemic.

Comedians were making songs about endless upgrades back in the 90s.

Isn't that just for the boards and more awkward components though? It seems like it would be trivial to strip most of the surface mounted components off via just heating and shaking

For manual repairs it's certainly viable for some components, but it takes some care to not end up with tiny passives stuck to everything - if you literally just shake (or more, likely, scrape) everything off the board you'll get an absolute mess. And then you don't know if things end up damaged (or were damaged before, if you're talking about e-waste). It's not really something that works at scale. Even in the simplest case it's labour-intensive, so it's not economical in the vast majority of cases. Not for SoCs, certainly not for smaller things that cost singular cents, or less.

To reuse components in new products you'd have to harvest, clean off the old solder paste (reball in the case of BGAs), and sort everything, and then repackage them for pick-n-placing again. And if you're talking about more than just Apple reusing Apple products, there's also quite a lot of varieties of components.

>but BGAs and things like that, forget it.

Sure. But things like batteries should be replacable in all devices. It's a consumable item, and it shouldn't even be counted as a repair at all.

The fact that modern electronics, and especially phones, is designed to be disposable is infuriating. And Apple says they care so ooh much about the environment, but wants you to throw your headphones in a landfill when the battey dies. Disgusting.

Completely agree there. With respect to the earphones I think Apple etc should buy them back at a percentage of the original cost and have recycling targets that that are independently audited.

The right to repair should at least cover trivial things like replacing the battery, keyboard, ssd, fans. Things which are going to wear down and can be cheaply replaced, if they can be replaced at all. But charging $600 for a keyboard exchange and even more for a new LCD (which is worth $100-200), that is entirely wrong.

Yes I agree.

I think its an attempt to keep developers who want to develop directly on their laptop.

Personally I am not taken with the idea of running a vm on a different hardware arm to the to the one I will deploy in production.

I much prefer developing and testing on identical hardware

Right to repair never covered upgrading an item. We cannot upgrade memory or storage in many devices so limiting the rule to say "this item type must allow for use upgrading" limits the flexibility of the seller. If you don't like their limits then buy the other brand.

One could make a good argument that circuit board repair is outside the realm of right to repair as in many applications you simply buy a new module or board; see automotive repairs, appliance repair, and similar.

It is the difference between swapping out the a water pump and repair one yourself. Right to Repair makes it possible to get new water pumps from any vendor as that is the extent by which the common consumer would need. So in the case of Apple products Right to Repair would include replacement circuit boards which could include a mainboard, battery modules, and any individual component which simply plugs in. Also covered would be the ability to open an close an item without having to damage it to do so to get at the internals.

I don't think so. Letting the manufacturer decide which parts of a system "belong together" will not enable an effective repair, as companies like Apple will just say that their whole logic board is a single unit and to "repair" it you need to throw it out and get a new one (actually that's exactly what they are doing already by restricting repair shops from buying specific chips they use on their boards; many board problems would be easy to repair with the right 30 cent IC, Apple just won't let repair technicians have those). That's a bit too convenient maybe. A better approach would be to see what is practically possible in terms of repairability without significantly compromising other aspects of a design, and mandate this to everyone. Another way would be to create fore-runner programs, where the most innovative and efficient solution becomes the standard for everyone to follow. This worked well for products like cars so I don't see why this wouldn't work for computers.

Also, saying "if you don't like their limits then buy the other brand" is not a strong argument against standardization and regulation of technology, that stance would basically give a free pass to manufacturers to do anything as long as there is customer demand for it. Any industry that can produce significant external negative effects like waste or pollution, which are not primarily experienced by the consumers (think of pollution produced by cars; not very inconvenient to each individual consumer, but harmful to people in cities due to the large number of cars), needs to be regulated based on environmental and sustainability factors as well.

The ability to upgrade would be a bonus and usually comes automatically, if you have the ability to repair a device. OWC is well-known for offerings of upgrades for Apple computers, which were not officially upgradeable, as well as of course, repair kits, like for the battery in some models.

A right to repair should be one of the fundamental customer rights. In this case, not only protecting the customer, but also the environment. Customer rights exists for multiple reasons. First of all, to protect against undue forcing of customers into something. Even if a company doesn't have a monopoly in the strict sense, they might try to force you into situations, where you cannot just choose a different brand. Especially if all brands go on a similar course.

About the soldering part: memory prices don't plummet as hard as in 2005 anymore, so when you need more RAM, just buy it. By soldering it you also make it more robust. Most DIMM troubleshooting begins with 'reseat the modules'. And users won't place cheap modules which will cause issues and give your products a bad name.

Of course, you can select a 16 GB memory upgrade from Apple for 400 $ when you buy your laptop. On the other hand, a user-serviceable laptop would just enable you to buy that RAM yourself for around 100 $ and put it in the laptop. Also, you could do that after you buy the laptop, as sometimes people just realize they need more RAM or storage after using a laptop for several years. With an Apple laptop you're just out of luck in those cases, the only thing you can do is sell it and buy a new one. Same story with the hard drives or almost any other component. I don't think that the reason they do this is to make the laptops 1-2 mm thinner, I think it's just economically way more interesting to be in a position where your company controls the entire value chain from software to hardware. That's where Apple is headed and it's great for them as a company, for end users it's not so great though. I would really like if the EU restricts this kind of behavior as I think it would be good for Apple users as well.

> Also, you could do that after you buy the laptop, as sometimes people just realize they need more RAM or storage after using a laptop for several years.

An example of that: when I started working at my current company, the 4GB of RAM I had on my several years old laptop was no longer enough (I could work fine, but it got annoyingly slow when I used the IDE). Since said laptop is a Dell, I just bought a matched pair of 8GB RAM sticks (dual channel, total 16GB), followed the instructions on the repair manual (available as a PDF on the manufacturer website, no login required) to open the back cover, and exchanged the memory. Took me only around an hour, and would have taken only a few minutes if I hadn't insisted on running the full memory test to make sure the new sticks were good (built-in hardware test program, launched from the BIOS, no installation or operating system required).

I some time later used that 4GB stick I had removed from the laptop to upgrade another computer from 4GB to 8GB. That is: even the part I had to remove for the upgrade wasn't wasted.

Yes and no. I am all for buying the maximum memory you can order for a laptop, but Apple makes this an issue by asking a huge premium for upgrades. And of course, with ssd-storage, there is the question of wear, eventually you would have might have to replace it.

> Yes, there is an enormeous amount of technology integrated into a smartphone or compact laptop, but my wristwatch contains over 100 moving parts in a tiny volume

I'm not sure what the point here is, a CPU contains 50 billion parts in a tiny volume, it's impossible to fix things this small if they break.

If a capacitor or resistor burns, you can probably open up your PC, look at the motherboard, find the faulty component visually (it'll usually be black), desolder it and solder a new one. It's just that they're so small that it's really hard.

Many manufacturers (looking at you, Apple) are designing things so they're hard to repair, but it won't be easy to repair electronics, no matter how much you plan for it. The best compromise is to design them so the user has to replace small modules rather than the entire thing.

Your comparison misses the point. A modern smartphone or laptop consists of dozens of parts. Of course, no one can fix an error on a CPU. I don't even ask to fix proplems on a PCB. But a laptop should not consist of a single PCB, but be split into CPU/GPU, memory, storage, battery. At least these components should be replaceable for a skilled worker, especially those which age with time, as the battery and ssd-storage. And of course any fan built into the device, as the clog and wear out.

many (incl. myself) people have no issues with the pcb and soldering on them, provided the entire thing is not potted in epoxy.

Soldering SSD and RAM is another issue, which makes standard components useless (mostly on purpose)

And at least with SSD there is the risk of the drive wearing out. One should not have to throw away the CPU and GPU just to fix a broken drive.

I'd bet the some capacitors would go into fail mode way earlier than a moderate quality SSD would wear off.

Saying that: home, we've got 3 laptops - all of them have removable drives and 2 drive bays (3 if counting SATA2 optical drive). All of them have replaceable and upgradable ram. All of them have replaceable cpu (one has been upgraded as well). Replaceable keyboards, trackpads... and batteries too.

It's kind of new trend to make anorexic laptops with everything soldered straight to the PCB, and if you're Apple apply no conformal coating either.

Worse, it means you can't pull the drive out of a dead or to-be-resold laptop to salvage or secure the data on it.

Maybe the watch analogy isn't the best one. But you are probably aware that the display, battery and storage break down more often than CPU? And that noone is proposing to replace individual bad transistors or pixels, but these parts which are manufactured separately and don't have to be glued together.

I was arguing specifically that comparing tech products to mechanical wristwatches is a bit ridiculous. Obviously tech products could be much more repairable than they are.

Actually, comparing exchangeable mechanical gears to a transistors on silicon die or pixels is a bit ridiculous.

I'd look at the comparison more like: a gear is a component (eg, cpu). If it breaks, it breaks and is not expected to be repairable, but that component should be replaceable; you shouldn't have to throw away the whole watch just because one gear broke.

But a replacement gear can be manufactured out of commodity materials using standard tools and a bunch of esoteric skills. A replacement LCD display is never going to be something a skilled worker can recreate from scratch. Your best case is that you are able to salvage matching parts from another instance of the same device - so if you have one laptop with a broken screen and another with a busted CPU you can cannibalize parts to make a single working machine.

I hope the clarification I posted shows in what sense it clearly is not ridiculous. Of course you would need spare parts, but the access to be able to exchange parts in the first place ist the essential part.

But pretty much all smartphone manufacturers glue parts together. Watchmakers show that it is possible to use screws even with tiny cases that must be waterproof. I believe Apple would be able to create an iPhone with identical specs with no glue used. But it's likely much more expensive to manufacture.

This is the bit that people keep skirting around. No one is intentionally making items hard to repair (at least I have never seen any evidence to suggest it); they're making them easy and cheap to manufacture. And cheap to manufacture often means hard to repair as a side effect.

To anyone working with complex industrial devices this isn't a surprise. A good manufacturer will involve their Service people in Manufacturability reviews because what makes things easy for the Manufacturing guys and what makes the device cheap and so makes Sales & Marketing's jobs easier, often makes the Service people's job harder. For a product that costs $5,000 and that is expected to have a few repair cycles, getting input from Service is important. In that case, adding $1,000 to the selling price can be worth it to the customer if it means it can be repaired easily.

But when the product costs $500 and and has a predicted lifetime of less than 5 years and it isn't expected to be repaired by any but a tiny fraction of customers, it makes sense to ignore the repairability issues in favor of lower cost. Making that $500 device more repairable might add $100 to the selling cost, and that can be the difference between a hit that flies off the shelves and a total dud.

Apple is intentionally making things harder to repair. They already have added drm checks to batteries and screens.

Fake batteries can cause explosions and exploding iPhones are bad for Apples reputation. Furthermore, iPhones are by now stolen pretty much only for parts as the iPhone itself is already protected. Sure, it'd be better if they offered replacement parts. But DRM is actually good for product safety and theft protection.

But replacing parts is still great.

Manufacturers are slowly pushing toward making those replacements impossible.

Just people in my family have replaced camera lenses, body, LCD, and battery. Just imagine how much waste it was if they couldn't repair those issue and had to buy a new device.

Same goes with other devices. Just a simple upgrade on old Macbook Pros gave them at least 5 extra years of life. That's now nearly impossible with new Macbook Pros.

Watchmakers don't repair broken cogs either, they replace them with spare parts.

I think it is a specific branding strategy. And I don't mean that in the direct sense, like planned obsolescence (it's NOT just about lost revenue due to repaired products staying longer in circulaton).

The Apple product brand image is that these are sleek smart unified objects. All from hardware to software should be looked at as a singular entity, a well designed black box for my satisfaction as the customer.

Opening it up, gutting it out and seeing wires and mechanical parts destroys the illusion. Just as it's not fitting/elegant to think of a celebrity diva or queen farting on the toilet or examining their smelly tooth cavities or whatever, it's not fitting to lay an Apple product barren with all the broken parts sticking out.

Because then it looks like just any other contraption, not this futuristic sleek intelligent product.

I claim that tinkering (and even just imagining the possibility of someone else tinkering) is in direct opposition to Apple branding strategy. It should just work. If it doesn't work, it should be disposed of, replaced, forgotten.

Replacing a worn-out component doesn't really qualify as "tinkering". And throwing away products, that could be trivially repaired/refurbished should be banned for environmental reasons. At minimum, a company that prevents the repair of their products should be called out for their environmental unfriendliness

But queens still fart. Denying reality doesn't make it go away. Elegance must adapt.

For consumer notebook repairability the golden standard should be something similar to HP Elitebook 2560p from 2012.

No screwdriver required!(with option to have a security screw)

While removing battery you can press a latch to remove the back cover.

Then you have easy access to everything that a consumer could possible want replacing(HDD/SDD,DVD->HDD, RAM, WIFI).

I recently upgraded a cousins 2560p to 16GB and SSD and it was a breeze, took a few minutes at most.

Sadly HP stopped offering this kind of notebook case around Haswell in 2014.

I think there are definitely some reasonable limits manufacturers shouldn't be expected to reach in terms of easy, intuitive, tool-less end-user serviceability.

For example, I think it is unreasonable to expect that a smartphone's battery be replaceable with 0 tools and 0 consumables (gaskets, glues, etc).

However, those tools and consumables _should_ be expected to to be reasonably standard and reasonably available.

Why shouldn't smartphone battery be replacable with 0 tools? Why should there be glue involved?

It was a standard that mobile phone batteries were easily replacable.

In fact https://www.gsmarena.com/search.php3?idBatRemovable=1 returns ~6400 results while not removable returns ~2400 results.

In fact that's how most smartphones were until some market leaders decided to move to glue on hard to replace models.

Late reply, sorry.

Personally, I prefer the current common design of trading tool-less battery service for size and weather resistance. I want a smaller more durable phone and I am willing to trade away tool less battery hot-swapping to get it.

With that said, let me re-iterate that I think battery replacements in particular should be REASONABLY accessible. I should be able to perform a battery replacement myself with easily available tools/consumables provided by either(/both) the original manufacturer or third parties.

They could no doubt (at a price) make the inside as spectaculrly looking as the outside.

Rolex’s cost upwards of $6000.

Mechanical watch functionality evolves extremely slowly - over generations, not years.

Competent Watch repair of actual high end watches is an extremely difficult skill to master taking years.

Read watch forums - repair is often botched.

Computers are almost always redundant before they need repairing, whereas a mechanical watch can last generations, therefore a far higher percentage will need repair.

Watches are not recyclable.

Rolex is an exception. Watches in the price range of computers are mostly electronic and are in fact less repairable than computers in general or any Apple device.

There is literally nothing about this analogy with watch repair that applies to computers.

Also, there is simply nothing to support the hypothesis that Apple makes devices intentionally hard to repair.

They offer good warranties, and a lot of people buy AppleCare.

It is therefore in Apple’s interest to make devices economic to both repair and/or recycle when replaced.

Furthermore Apple has stated that it is their strategy to maximize the useful life of their devices (presumably so they can continue to sell services to users who don’t need new devices).

Increasing the device life is not the same as making it repairable.

Many things that make a device easier to repair, also make it more likely to fail.

People who demand repairability without taking this into account may well be harming the environment, and economically disadvantaged users without realizing it.

Let me tell you a story. 4 Samsung smart TV models bought as a "pack" to bring down the price. Me and 3 friends bought them. 3 of them died in 5-6 years. One was just replaced with larger one but still works.

Difference? First 3 were connected to internet, last one, mine, was on stock firmware, never connected anywhere (I have computer near it and lately raspberry pi 4).


Were they connected with ethernet cables? A lightning could do it.

Naah, no one was thinking of ethernet cables in old houses. Wireless all the way.

Sorry, but isn't a wristwatch like a bazillionth of complexity of a modern smartphone? How many transistors do you need for a wristwatch?

The whole idea of servicing modern electronics is romantic nonsense. The hourly rate of an expert will make it too expensive quickly, because industrialized mass production is too effective.

(Edit: according to this link on Quora, several billion transistors are not unrealistic in a smartphone https://www.quora.com/How-many-transistors-are-there-in-the-... )

What is the hourly rate of a watchmaker?

When I was talking about servicing a laptop, I was thinking about the usualy components, like battery, keyboard, SSD, fans. Things which can break or are going to wear out over time. By that count, a laptop has perhaps 10-20 "parts". Compare that to the complexity of a mechanical watch.

I don't know the going rate for a watch maker, it is probably not cheap. But I know what I paid for servicing my watches before and a multiple of that for having my dealer upgrade the disk in my iMac. Which still has an internal SATA port, but unfortunately is glued together. This is something which should cost less than a watch service, even at the same rate.

Components are glued or soldered together because that makes the device smaller and probably also more efficient to build, wasting less resources, too.

I am not sure what kind of point you are attempting to make: the amount of transistors in an IC hardly matters. No one repairs individual transistors. The chips/IC can be replaced and many ICs are not much more expensive than the cogs in the watch.

Ofc, there are billions of transistors in a phone - that doesn't mean anything at all.

Repeatability depends on being able to open a device/tool non-destructively, being able to assemble it back - glue/epoxy used as cheap fastening/engineering tools is the bane of. Ability to find spare parts and service manuals, schematics and the like. The count of transistors is irrelevant as even a simple and single MOSFET driver is enough to prevent a device being operational.

The comment comes off extremely misguided and ill-informed.

Pretty sure they save materials, time to assemble and "space" by gluing instead of using replacable parts.

I guess your theory is that it is all malice by the manufacturers?

If was time to assemble they would have not been inventions like pentalobe and 'secure' torx screws. If you have seen a pcb with just an IC (chip) potted in epoxy, you'd know the sole reason for.

Glue has its own issues including degrading with temperature - which doesn't really happen to bolts/nuts/screws.

The specific standard would hopefully begin to address the issue with throwaway culture and planned obsolesce (there is min 2y warranty in the EU for all electronic goods, though). I dont care if a company save less than 1euro, making something that costs hundreds/thousands virtually useless for any minor ceramic capacitor that fails.

Almost all those transistors are in a nice little package. Using transistor count isn’t really a good way to define a devices serviceable complexity. People repair phones all the time, it just requires the knowledge to do so.

Then the comparison to watches doesn't really make sense, either, because both can be repaired?

But a watchmaker is also unlikely equally unlikely to have the skills and equipment to fabricate the individual pieces of a watch. We are asking what the repairability is like when all the pieces of the phone (that would be available in the factory at final assembly) are available to the servicer.

I think that's what they did traditionally. If you want pieces of the phone to be replaceable, you'll get a thicker, heavier phone that uses more materials to build.

That's not a great comparison. Nobody repairs separate in-chip transistors and they're not the usual source of issues. PCB mounted components however do fail and get replaced regularly. There is space for reasonable pricing too given that Apple's response is normally either: swap the inside, swap the outside, or swap the display. (all of them expensive)

The components in modern electronics are interchangeable and have interfaces about as complex as a gear at worst but usually solderable components. The number of transistors is completely irrelevant because no one is servicing the individual transistors. If a CPU breaks, you replace it.

Maybe we should start with at least a way to change the batteries of otherwise perfectly fine devices or at least a reliable way to have the information about that possibility before purchasing.

The amount of infrastructure and equipment needed to create a watch from raw materials is an order of magnitude less than any piece of modern electronics. A single chip fab probably needs as much physical capital as an entire 1850s Swiss town needed to make a watch from scratch.

>A time traveller could buy a current Rolex and have it serviced in 1950, possibly even in 1850.

That's because mechanical watches are an outdated design. Good luck to them trying to service a quartz watch.

It depends on the component you need to service. For a battery it's usually quite easy, but that really depends.

OPs point is that in many cases, products are being intentionally designed to be difficult to service. It's one thing to introduce a complex component that's not reasonably serviceable and make it modular to replace, it's an entirely different story when you make that modular piece difficult to replace when it doesn't need to be.

This is what a lot of product vendors are doing, intentionally designing products to force vendor servicing. It's not a new trick, some auto manufacturers used to and still do it for certain cases.

Due to the complexity of the situation, there's usually ambiguity that the product needed to be designed that way to meet some specification/constraint. What usually happens is that a specification/feature/constraint that forces such designs is often sought after or identified, then the design follows suit.

These are the types of shenanigans you have accountants and financing involved in the design process of anything. They want to maximize ROI and know engineers are good at optimization problems, so ultimately, we end up with products designed to be more business friendly and less consumer friendly. I know for a fact it happens because I've been in this scenario countless times during product or service development, then someone chimes in, "is there a way we can... so we can get more money."

And even with a quartz watch a watchmaker can do a lot of things. If you provide the battery, they can exchange it, they can even service the dial and hands. Of course, servicing the quartz movement itself is not possible, but the point I tried to make was, that at least important components should be exchangeable on their own, like for example the battery in a laptop.

> A time traveller [sic] could buy a current Rolex [...]

Well, no. A wealthy time traveler could buy a current Rolex. Rolex is a terrible example. I'd love to learn about high quality, affordable brands. Also, only being able to know the time is very little information nowadays; smartwatches can do so much more (I have a Fossil Hybrid HR).

A non-gold Rolex can be bought for less than a top of the line Macbook Pro :p. I just wanted to give the example of a very fancy and expensive brand, which doesn't have to hide behind glueing their product together. The same applies to any quality brand mechanical wristwatch, be it Seiko, Tissot, Omega, IWC just to name some.

> The same applies to any quality brand mechanical wristwatch, be it Seiko, Tissot, Omega, IWC just to name some.

Thanks for mentioning these. Seiko is a brand I know, and if that fits the requirement then that's telling to me. My parents both had Seiko watches (different ones; mom had a smaller one, dad a bigger one), for a long time. At one point though, my mother replaced hers as it would've been too expensive to repair. For me, that watch was part of her identity, as I grew up with it.

My father was (virtually) blind, and he also wore an other watch which he could push to hear the time. That was also an expensive watch back in the days (end 80s / begin 90s), and did require a battery. It also said the time only in English, including PM/AM (we use 24 hours here, so I learned pretty quickly what PM/AM meant). Sadly, he missed the smart device era, though he did receive spoken books from the library for the blind, as well as the Dutch equiv of Consumer Reports (Consumentenbond). I grew up listening to these. And these watches I mentioned.

"traveller" is a valid spelling. No need for the passive-aggressive sic

Let's hope this catches on just like the energy labels did. After the EU forced manufacturers to improve energy use in their devices it soon improved situations for everyone on this planet.

Many other countries follow EU regulations directly or indirectly so let's hope for some easily repairable products in the future!

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, this regulatory phenomenon is known as the "Brussels Effect" [1,2] (after a similar phenomenon in the US called the California Effect).

Some have suggested that it could make the UK's desire to set its own regulatory standards after leaving the EU rather an uphill struggle. [3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels_effect

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/how-the-bruss...

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/7059dbf8-a82a-11e7-ab66-21cc87a2e...

> After the EU forced manufacturers to improve energy use in their devices it soon improved situations for everyone on this planet.

I don't know (talking as fairly pro-EU kind of person). I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C and vacuum cleaners that actually picked up dirt. But the EU are only partly to blame. Companies are relentless in their pursuit of cutting production costs. Going "green" just excused their greed for a while. And these newer machines feature more plastic parts, are harder to repair and generally considered disposable (e.g. I'm happy that a dishwasher/washing machine/fridge lasts 5 years). How's that good for the planet?

> I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C

I will be honest with you this one I just don't understand. My washing machine is A+ in EU norms and it heats properly. Maybe you bought a not so good model ?

If anything those norms should be re-evaluated with new tougher levels now, you have to go out of your way to buy something that's not at least A (which is good and it means it worked, but also that it's time to ask for more).

> vacuum cleaners that actually picked up dirt

Again, if you buy a Dyson that follows EU norms it still works great. But if at the same time as those norms arrived you also switched from being main brand product to cheaper off brands, then you're confusing the two.

It's easy to find a vacuum cleaner that works great, but they're not at the same price as most models, because the market aligned with the cheap ones that people actually buy.

Yes, LIDL and similar often have special sales on vacuum cleaner, yes they're frankly cheap, and no, they're not as good as "the vacuum cleaners of old". They're barely adequate, which is fine for most customers and allow a cheap price, that's why they sell this.

> And these newer machines feature more plastic parts, are harder to repair and generally considered disposable (e.g. I'm happy that a dishwasher/washing machine/fridge lasts 5 years). How's that good for the planet?

That is quite literally the point of the anti waste regulation (the last one and the future one), and of the repair law being discussed here.

> Maybe you bought a not so good model?

Rinse quality is lower in modern washing machines in order to meet water economy standards - even if you buy an £800 Miele and turn on all the 'extra rinse' options.

I know this because I have a relative with sensitive skin, who resorts to rinsing things by hand after taking them out of the washing machine - and doing such a rinse visibly dirties the water. Feel free to test this yourself.

This has happened across the entire market - so much so that 'Which Reports' (UK consumer reports equivalent) have lowered their standard for 'five star rinse quality' as nothing on the market could meet it.

Ah you might be right but I think they're allowed to have it not just do it in the normal program.

Both my (single washer / drier /and my parents (two separate machines) have an extra button that add a "second extra rinse 5 minutes after the normal one" thatwwe always use by default because the normal rinse is indeed not good enough.

Now I'm wondering if it's not possible to have a proper rinse within the norms of if having found that workaround stopped them on fixing the issue.

So, we can't even buy a washing machine that actually cleans the clothes? I'm not looking forward to the future.

Again, if you buy a Dyson that follows EU norms it still works great.

Bit off topic perhaps, but in my experience: Dyson does not necesarily work great nor handles well nor does last particularly long. Ok this is only anecdotal from my experience and 2 friends (Animal pro models or similar) but still.. Main complaint: it's overengineered/designed to the point it degrades usability. The handle is about twice the weight of a 'standard' one. The hose is very short so you have to drag the thing behind you cnostantly. Sucking power is really not all good. And it gets degraded by mouthpiece design with extra obstruction and narrow pieces in the airway. Which also makes it pretty hard to get e.g. straws of grass to pass through. Design of the mouthpiece is also such that anything larger than about 4mm requires lifting it to get sucked in. It makes a lot of noise already, but if you attach the carpentry cleaning mouthpiece (which in their defense is a rather nifty idea, but for the small effectivity it adds has the disadvante it wears out carpets/couches/... because the brushes are quite harsh) it becomes really, really loud. If you accidentally suck up dust which is too fine it becomes broken (even more noise, loss of sucking power), though that can be remedied by taking most of it apart and cleaning out with compressed air or perhaps water. Mechanism for sucking in the cable is way too weak.

I get that this all might sound like it's a disaster, but I guess it could work for some people who haven't tried alternatives. After all it does suck up some dust. And it doesn't require dustbags. Still I recommend anyone looking for a vacuum cleaner to look into simpler yet more effective designs. From other things I've used: Nilfisk is really good. Models I've used are simple, just work, none of the complaints from above. I also happen to have a Festool one which I normally use for dust extraction for saws/sanders. While not really meant for it, and pretty expensive, it's still way simpler in design than the Dyson and completely blows it away on all fronts.

I'll be entirely honest with you I used that name because it's the only one I know of a main brand worldwide. I myself use a French brand. Maybe my exemple wasn't very good, sorry for that.

No problem: as far as making your point the example was good enough. It's just that - as you may have noticed - I'm not exactly a fan of Dyson and wanted to explain HN why :)

Dyson is an expensive brand but that doesn't mean a high-quality one.

I bought a "cheap" vacuum (think UK brand but German OEM - apparently) and it cleans quite well

Yes, the suction power goes down as the bag fills, but I guess that's what bags are for.

Same for vacuum cleaners, I am keeping my old one because I cannot get a new one that cleans comparably. On the other hand, you think a Dyson cleans properly, so ...

> I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C

Your washing machine is likely defective. Nothing about the rules makes this particularly difficult and modern machines with good energy ratings can do it (though, mind you, you'll notice if you read the small print that the energy rating is pretty much just for the mode they expect people to use; the 90 degree mode will use quite a lot of power).

> vacuum cleaners that actually picked up dirt

Your vacuum cleaner is definitely defective. At best, the functional advantage provided by super-high-wattage machines over ~1kW ones was marginal and hard to measure, in many cases it was non-existent. Super-high wattage vacuum cleaners were primarily a marketing thing; 1600 is a better number than 1400 so people buy the 1600.

(Note that appliance manufacturers continue to do that where allowed; most washing machine manufacturers perform market segregation on 1200 vs 1400 vs 1600 rpm spin, for instance, even though once you go over a 1000 or so improvement is very marginal, and your machine will likely never actually reach the sticker rate anyway due to damage protection system)

> And these newer machines feature more plastic parts, are harder to repair and generally considered disposable

You're talking about two separate issues. Cheap shit washing machines existed both before and after the regulations. You can still get a washing machine with longevity similar to 70s/80s models (Miele in particular makes these) but it'll be expensive. As it was in the 80s; look at the inflation-adjusted costs.

I think it would better if the EU had required listing the "sucking power" of vacuum cleaner in addition to the power usage, and require this number to be in bigger font size than power usage.

And require "suckage per watt" also.

People went by power usage because that was the only measure they got.

There's no metric for that that's well understood by the public, though. People have been trained that more watts == more better over the last century by lightbulbs and things (and more dubiously by hifi makers; they tend to use very dubious marketing watts). Air watts (ie power of air movement) might have been a good compromise; most super-high wattage machines don't have substantially better air watts metrics. It still isn't that helpful to the consumer, though; a poorly designed machine may have high air watts but limited suction.

People can be taught.

Example of typical packaging of LED bulb in Denmark: https://imgur.com/a/J5PiGLb

It has: actual watt usage, "old watt equivalent" and lumen. It won't take that many years before people know the lumen value they want.

Inches of water column were directly demonstrated by the last door to door vacuum sales pitch I saw, as a measure of suction. CFM are a perfectly comparable measure of airflow. And an abstract "cleaning power" could be defined for various surfaces by putting a standardized dirt load on the surface and weighing what percentage remains after a standardized sweep.

The EU did introduce a label with information about cleaning power and noise, in addition to energy use.

However, these were removed following a court ruling in favour of Dyson, which complained that the cleaning power tests were not realistic, as they were always conducted with an empty bag.


Miele is not what it used to be unfortunately. There was a technician somewhere on here or Reddit that elaborated quite a bit on it. His general advice was that for now, Bocsh makes some decent machines that last longer than average and is serviceable.

The cheap machines before might've been less efficient, but they generally at least did the job adequately. That's not always the case when the power rating is limited.

Consider that these rules apply to countries with very different economies. People in Bulgaria have an average income of $9,000 a year compared to $54,000 in Germany. They have access to the same vacuum cleaners and washing machines, but they can't afford the same ones.

The problem is artificial market segmentation, not actual goods build cost.

Difference between primitive universal motor + Triac speed controller versus BLDC + controller one is max around $20 BOM. In return you get vastly better efficiency and quieter operation, but we cant have that in a low end product oh no, how would we upmarket the expensive ones?

Example modern product sold with realistic markup, $30 impact driver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AERn5japFs8

> but they generally at least did the job adequately

Did they, tho? That's not my memory of cheap 90s/noughties era washing machines, at all. If you go back much further than that, cheap machines didn't exist; adjust the price of a basic 80s washing machine for inflation and you're looking at something that's more than most people would pay for a washing machine today.

EDIT: One thing that the 90s cheap machines were better on was noise, though. It's not that the modern ones are _louder_; I think they're actually lower decibels. But the motors, especially the pump motors, in the newer ones make a much more _annoying_ noise.

What was ignored that having a 1600w vs 1000w means you can run the 1600w at a lower load for the same suckage which extends the product life.

I'm not sure that that's true in a vacuum, and in any case most of the super-high-wattage vacuum cleaners didn't have controls for that (maybe very high-end ones did?)

EDIT: Just noticed the accidental pun; by true in a vacuum I mean true without extra information, not true in a vacuum cleaner :)

I think many have controls and you could always set it to 80%.

This is a bit like having better VRM's and cooling improves the life of CPU's.

> I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C

Washing machines sold in the EU can (we have one in the basement). But heating to 90°C is extremely inefficient if 60°C is sufficient, and it is in most cases (we are not any more using just soap for laundry like in the 19th century). In fact, recommended temperatures have fallen so much that it is now recommended to wash with 60°C once in a while to prevent mould and smell. And more and more clothes such as shirts and tresses, but even socks, have a washing temperature of 40°C recommended.

The wider issue is that energy conservation will not come by itself. Self-regulation will not give the speed of change that we need. With self-regulation alone, Americans would still use leaded gasoline which was obsolete in the 1960ies.

I think this should largely be viewed as a temporary inconvencience. These limitations also give huge incentive to manufacturers to come up with new innovations that produce better performance with environmental and energy constraints in mind.

I always feel the alternative is the web, where everything gets twice as large every few years. if washing machines were as free-wheeling as webapps I can only assume one would fill the entire garage

> vacuum cleaners that actually picked up dirt

I read that manufacturers were actually happy about the new regulation. Before, customers only looked at W for performance which made any innovation useless. With the new rules, manufacturers that are able to provide the same suction at a fraction of the power are actually at an advantage.

Similar with fridges, new rules put manufacturers with heavy R&D at an advantage.

What about the 90C?

Is there a regulation that forbids it or it is merely an energy efficiency thing?

(Btw don't do it unless, I don't know, you're washing something heavy and very dirty https://www.cda.eu/laundry/washing-machine-temperature-guide... )

> I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C and vacuum cleaners that actually picked up dirt.

This is a problem if you have one rule for different countries, although the EU should be praised that it made an effort at least.

In my region drinking water is no problem. On the contrary, due to washing machines and appliances using less water, waterworks needs to pump water through the pipes regularly to keep them clean. It is also advisable to do that in your home from time to time.

The vacuum cleaners decision was just bad in my opinion. You will take a longer time to use it which removes the energy advantages.

The lighting stuff they did was decent, although I think that light bulbs would have been a thing of the past without regulation due to high energy costs.

> In my region drinking water is no problem. On the contrary, due to washing machines and appliances using less water, waterworks needs to pump water through the pipes regularly to keep them clean. It is also advisable to do that in your home from time to time.

As far as I know, that's mostly because most customers use too much laundry detergent and flush stuff down toilets they're not supposed to. The washing machines are not at fault, the problem was just hidden better before.

I still miss my old 90's era dishwasher. I ran the numbers that thing was more effeceint end to end than modern ones. Because you didn't need to prerinse dishes. Prerinsing with warm water completely wipes out the modern ones energy and water savings.

As for machines with plastic parts, there should be a standard that machines need to last ten years. And if one shows up at the dump before then the manufacturer has to buy it back from dump for the prorated list price.

Modern dishwashers don't need prerinsing and aren't tested with prerinsing, you're just using it wrong.

"You're just holding it wrong"

It's (potentially mandated) poor design if it's so easy to misuse.

The point is the old lamented machine you couldn't not do it right. Pan encrusted with 3 day old spaghetti sauce? Toss it in and it came out clean. Roommate burned rice in a pot? toss that in after. Comes out clean. Wife's pot and dish with dried mac and cheeze? Yeah also come clean.

And yeah if it was just a light wash you could set it to 'low'

Also that machine I installed in 1995 and it finally died in 2006. Friends buy expensive European machines and invariably some plastic part dies after 6-8 years. Low end machines are worse.

> On two occasions I have been asked, — "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

– Charles Babbage

How can a dishwasher possibly be designed to discourage people from doing things to the dishes before they put them into the dishwasher?

I have not pre-rinsed for a dishwasher ever. Have had Two in the last 15 years, current one is less than 5 years old and made by Siemens. They’ve always worked fine.

Have you cleaned your dishwasher's filters? Manufacturers tend not to recommend 'prerinsing' and many actively discourage it. Most dishwasher performance problems are down to the filters.

some companies could choose to make their product shittier, others could choose to pick a more expensive/efficient power supply and improve device design.

Have you ever heard of delta electronics? They manufacture 90% of power supplies on the planet and their CEO is a huge environmentalist. They have a philosophy of improving efficient for the hell of it, because a 1% improvement in their efficiency = thousands of megawatts saved due to their sheer volume.

"I kind liked washing machines that properly heated to 90C"

Modern front-loading washing machines still heat to 90°C. What's changed is that modern washing machines use less water than older models.

This is one of those dilemmas with older appliances: the older appliance is in perfect working condition, but uses much more water per wash (or more electricity). Do you keep the older appliance? Or buy a modern model that will save you water (or electricity)?

> Modern front-loading washing machines still heat to 90°C

I've read reports to the contrary (when researching current machine). A machine having a 90C cycle does not mean it heats to 90C, and for a decent amount of time.

Yes, they use less water. Which means I often do an extra rinse cycle at the end. ("Use less detergent", well, I like clean clothes)

> I've read reports to the contrary (when researching current machine).

Sure, some don't hit the sticker temperature. _But they never did_; cheap machines always had difficulty actually hitting high temperatures.

I don't think I ever used the hot water functionality of my washing machine, and I can't imagine what you'd want to wash at 90°C, but ok...

When I brought my washing machine, I made sure it had a proper barrel mixer and properly filled with water. That means it's not on the top green category, it's two pegs lower. Yet, it existed, and those weren't the only hidden features I had to compare anyway. When I brought my vacuum cleaner, I made sure it had proper suction. It's also no on the top green category, only near it, but that also didn't make it unavailable.

On the other hand, when I brought my fridge, I made sure it was on the top category, because my interests here were completely aligned with the classification.

Anyway, my point is that informative labels are always great. If you don't want a top performer, just don't get one, the label being there won't harm you.

I have a Fairphone [1], for which repairability was a major focus (the latest two models are the first smartphones to get a perfect 10 from iFixit, IIRC). At some point, it started having some issues. Likewise, a friend of mine who had one wanted a new phone as well.

By combining parts from mine and his phone, I now have a properly working phone again with very little effort. This is so important.

(That said, the reason I started having issues in the first place was because some connections didn't fit as tightly anymore. This is supposedly better with the latest model, whose screen you can no longer replace without tools, but needs a regular Philips screwdriver that actually comes with the phone. Less gimmicky on parties, but should be an improvement.)

[1] https://www.fairphone.com/

My wife and I had a Fairphone 2 as well. Fantastically repairable. I broke the screen on mine just before a vacation, priority-shipped a new one two days before we left and had it all repaired in time. My wife's phone had a strange headphone issue, bought the spare part, and even got reimbursed afterwards, because it might have been a manufacturing issue.

But we have both since moved on. Why? Because the Fairphone 2 was slow when it was released, and things got unbearable in the end. They still technically work perfectly, but software demands simply outgrew the hardware. At the end, the battery (a new one) would barely last half a day, and google maps or websites would frequently evict background audio due to memory pressure.

Which is terribly sad to me; Fairphone (the company) did everything right, but the market decided against them that old hardware just is not viable. Here's to hoping that smartphone demands have slowed down enough to make the Fairphone 3 last longer than the 2.

But for now, I choose buying used phones over fair new ones. And maybe that is actually better for the environment, too.

> But for now, I choose buying used phones over fair new ones. And maybe that is actually better for the environment, too.

It is! And very much in line with the Fairphone philosophy. But yes, definitely still a long way to go in terms of repairability and longevity of Android phones. Fairphone's pushing the limits, but those limits are still disappointingly low.

This is anecdotal, but everyone in my circle of friends who bought a fairphone2 (2015) has replaced it. Meanwhile my mom is still using my old iPhone 5s (2013). And my wife uses her iPhone SE(2016).

Hell the fact that they have released one in 2013, 2015 and 2019, kind of goes against their message doesn’t it?

That doesn't surprise me. The crowd of people who are aware of the fairphone are most likely techies. And I would wager techies are much more likely to replace a Phone then the Generic Apple user.

No one I’d call a techie bought it, it was the artsy environmental types. The reasons for replacing it ranges from the OS not being updated to run modern Apps to the phone breaking.

We’re pretty digitised in Denmark, so if you can’t download apps from the iOS or play stores you’ll have a harder time transferring payments to friends, using public transportation, ordering food online, interacting with the public sector, accessing your citizen mail box and stuff like that, and Android isn’t very good at longevity.

> he reasons for replacing it ranges from the OS not being updated

They just released a beta of the upgrade to Android 9 for their five-year-old phone. Yes, that's just Android 9, but still way better than other phones that old, and they had to overcome major hurdles for it [2]. But yes, iPhones are much better than Androids at longevity.

[1] https://www.androidauthority.com/fairphone-2-android-9-11295...

[2] https://www.fairphone.com/en/2020/06/18/fairphone-2-gets-and...

Android is fine. It's the sub-par hardware that isn't, poor flash memory gets unbearably slow at some point and that bogs down pretty much everything.

Second and related problem is developers that abuse storage, no, you don't need to fsync your logs or DB to the storage after each row. It really fucks with devices that have lost a bit of IOPS.

I’m not really into it, but the problem they seemed to have with the fairphone was that it wasn’t getting new android versions for some reason. I guess you could argue wether or not developers should support old android versions but the reality is that they don’t.

I know a lot of consumers who upgrade their phone whenever their cell phone financing plan lets them do so.

I'm still using my iPhone SE (2016). I've changed the battery once, and the screen twice (I should probably stop dropping it).

Changing the screen takes ~20 minutes, and a new screen costs ~16$.

I will probably upgrade to the iPhone SE2 at some point, but given that my phone works perfectly for what I use it for, paying 550$ for an upgrade just does not make sense.

Well, I'm using an HTC phone from 2014. I haven't had to change or repair any parts and it costs about half an iPhone, I think. To clarify, everything seems to be working just fine.

Unfortunately, Google. But that's the only problem with it. I was actually going to stick with a flip-top but then I started working as a dev and figured that getting a smartphone would give me some extra cred.

Nowadays it's probably the other way around, I should probably dig out my old fliptop and use that, to show how 1337 I am.

> I haven't had to change or repair any parts and it costs about half an iPhone, I think.

I've dropped the iphone dozens of times. I should stop doing that. I guess that if I had been more careful, i wouldn't have had to change anything, except for the battery (the old battery was "fine", ~65-70% capacity, but given that changing it takes 15 min and 20$, and makes the phone feel like brand new, it is a change that I happily do). Can you comment on the battery life of your 2014 HTC phone after 6 years of use? What kind of battery does it have ?

Hence the part I wrote in parentheses. They're still learning, so I'd expect the FP3 to be much better than the FP2, just like the FP2 was an improvement over the FP1. I think it's unrealistic to expect a new company to immediately hit a home run, but I think their main contribution is that they're paving the way for other companies: they're making mistakes, but also openly documenting what they're doing and what challenges they're running into.

you left out some important information, and leaving me in thoughts..

"I now have a properly working phone again"

But what about your friend? What did he have to do to call you again, or you guys simply stopped calling each other? ;)

He got a new phone :) So instead of us both having to get a new phone, just one sufficed.

If anyone wishes to read it or similar European standards, each nation is required to sell it at a price proportional to the average wage, and hence the Estonian standards body is selling it[1] for €14, instead of the £204 the British standards institute wants.

[1] https://www.evs.ee/en/evs-en-45554-2020

I know this is off topic but... As an European this is the first time I learn you need to pay to read EU standards. Anyone has any explanation why you need to pay for access to standards?

You need to pay to read ISO standards too.

Presumably it covers some of the costs involved in producing the standard.

Library Genesis (sister project to Sci-Hub) archives standards, but doesn't yet have this one.

You don’t. This is not an European body, but a derived standard for Estonia. EU version at https://www.cenelec.eu/dyn/www/f?p=104:22:1562386624244501::....

That shows an empty table.

Weird behavior on that URL. But search for ‘EN 45554:2020’ and you should find it :)

Please be less vague/imprecise.

Alternatively, you could look at the version on the EU website. This article[1] links to the standard[2].

[1]: https://www.cencenelec.eu/news/articles/Pages/AR-2020-008.as...

[2]: https://www.cenelec.eu/dyn/www/f?p=104:110:877190265864601::...

As far as I can see that site does not provide a free download.

You're right. This is just another proprietary standards body.

I hope it will finally force Apple to become more climate-friendly. Their scores in phone repairability are disappointigly low: https://www.ifixit.com/smartphone-repairability.

As far as Apple is concerned, I believe that AirPods are a true tragedy[0].

If you try to recycle them, someone will have to separate the glued-in lithium-ion battery from the plastic.

If you try to throw them away, you might start a fire in a garbage compactor facility.

If they end up in a landfill, they'll be in earth's crust for thousands of years.

That's before getting into how fast they become obsolete on their own because the battery loses charge (~18 months) and how easy it is to lose them.

[0] Excellent article, in which CEO of iFixit was asked for a comment and simply called them "evil": https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/neaz3d/airpods-are-a-trag...

It's sad when technological advances go hand in hand with disadvantages for, basically, the planet. But it's especially so when it's (to some extent) avaoidable and definitely so when it gets executed by companies who have plenty of resources to not do it, yet don't care at all, and keep on producing things like this under the (mis)nomer of 'building a better future'. Despite knowing well enough what the effects are, and because they know it will be bought by the masses anyway.

Don't get me wrong: I'm well aware the problem is not exactly easy to solve, but if your answer is to just make it worse with every product release while you could at least attempt to make it better instead, then perhaps this CEO is indeed using the correct term for your (and others') behaviour.

It's also totally possible to build the Airpods in a way that is battery replaceable: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+Buds+Teardown...

Every android phone in that page has a score lower or equal to all the iPhones. This has to be a joke, right? Example:

Galaxy S20 Ultra [3/10]: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S20+Ultra+Tea...

iPhone 11 Pro Max [6/10]: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+11+Pro+Max+Teardown/1...

But sure, lets keep bashing Apple because that gives us all the internet kudos, am I right?

I hate how "waterproof" has come to mean "you can't fix this phone anymore". Samsung up to at least the S7 used to be decent about changing the camera module, the screen, the battery, ... But now you can't do anything.

Although you are right and this is a problem, android does not in general claim to be climate-friendly, while Apple does.

Well according to the list you posted, they seem to be the most climate friendly mass smart phone producer on the planet. Perhaps they deserve the title.

This is a weird defense. They are certainly able to do better with their resources unlike e.g. Fairphone.

The scores should correlate but my main worry would be the battery replacements

From that description it does seem that Apple worries about it:

> Critical display and battery repairs remain a priority in the iPhone's design.

I've seen Android phones where the replacement is simple and others where you have to take the whole phone apart to take the battery out

This is Apple fault, because other manufacturers just started to imitate their build style, poorly.

That's a fine example of whataboutism. Look, others are doing the same bad thing, what's your problem?

It seems very reasonable to look at direct competitors when considering whether a company is making good engineering or marketing choices.

No, it’s more of the fact that almost everyone compared to Apple is doing worse but apple gets all the bashing.

What? Why bring Android into this completely out of nowhere.

I don't think you understand how much easier it is to repair an iPhone compared to any other phone on the market (apart of niche products like the Fairphone which does a great job!).

If you open an iPhone, you will see a very well ordered and packaged arrangement of components. Most Android phones are a hot mess compared with it.

If you need a component for an iPhone, you can get it easily.

What I'm saying is not that electronics should not become more climate-friendly.

What I'm saying is that the focus on Apple is wrong. The business is the problem and companies like Samsung, Motorola, etc. are putting much worse devices on the market.

BTW: iPhones regularly get software updates for around 5 years. How's that for extending the lifetime of devices? Android phones are lucky to get significant software updates for more than one year.

You might be able to get apple to repair it at an exorbitant cost relative to the price of the part. Apple dies not provide spare parts to third party repair shops. If you can't repair an item for a reasonable cost regardless of how easy it is it's still not repairable.

Third-party shops use refurbished parts from dead phones, supplied by companies which specialize in this. Still, I believe it should be illegal to sell a device a not sell the parts required for its repair.

I’ve had iPhones in our family since the 4 and have never had difficulty finding whatever parts I needed (several batteries and 1 screen). Most malls have a kiosk where iPhones are repairable if you don’t want to DIY.

While I wish by-Apple repairs were cheaper, I also wish car repairs were cheaper at the dealer.

> BTW: iPhones regularly get software updates for around 5 years. How's that for extending the lifetime of devices? Android phones are lucky to get significant software updates for more than one year.

After Android devices stop getting updates, you can continue with alternative OS or you can use F-Droid basically forever. All your apps will have updates.

When Apple devices stop being supported, they turn into bricks.

When apple device stops being supported, it’s just not getting any more updates. It’s not going to get bricked, you can keep using the phone until foreseeable future.

Also, the general consumer does not care if you can flash a rom from xda. They care about the official updates.

> When apple device stops being supported, it’s just not getting any more updates

If effectively means it is absolutely unsafe to use anymore. Security bugs are found in browsers all the time.

>Also, the general consumer does not care if you can flash a rom from xda. They care about the official updates.

At least there is an option. Also this is exactly why I mentioned F-Droid, which is just an app.

> If effectively means it is absolutely unsafe to use anymore. Security bugs are found in browsers all the time.

Aren't the base operating system and the browsers (installed through an app store of some kind) separate? Even if the phone's operating system is not receiving any more updates, there will still be updates to the browser for a while. For instance, a quick search tells me Firefox is still being updated for Android 4.1, an operating system which is long out of support.

On iOS the browser (Safari) is tied to the operating system version. Alternative browsers still use the same rendering engine as Safari, which means they can't patch bugs in the engine, they need to wait for Apple to do it in a new operating system version.

I am talking about Apple devices here (edited for clarity).

iPhones still get many years of security updates after they stop supporting the last iOS version.

>If you need a component for an iPhone, you can get it easily.

Really? From where? You call Apple asking for spare parts, they'll tell you to pound sand.

Yes, stacked double decker PCB is just the innovation we needed in repair business! ...

Apple is surprisingly repearable and is a major factor driving device prices in the poorer countries.

There are shops everywhere that would fix your iPhone at very reasonable prices.

People expect to use the device for 3-5 five years since they pay multiple salaries to buy it in first place and pay it through the years.

If that’s not environmentally friendly, I don’t know what it is.

Its te other way around. Apple products have the most third party repair support directly because they are so expensive. It makes more sense to repair $600 phone than $150 one.

It also makes sense to use 600$ device that continues to get support for 5 years. Therefore , less waste overall. Cheap phones don’t produce less waste.

Actually easily repairable phones like the Fairphone 3 or the Shift 6M. Or an older LG G3/G5.

I had a Fairphone 1 once. It fell on the floor and the display cracked. I was able to order a replacement screen and replace the cracked screen in about 2 hours thanks to iFixit [1]. And I have no idea of electronics whatsoever!

This is remarkable but unfortunately not sustainable. The manufacturer needs to enable repairs, provide howto's and he needs to guarantee, that you can buy those replacement parts.

At some point after Fairphone 2 was released, which was priced a lot higher, I was unable to download newer android versions even though that was promised. It was just too complex for them provide an update.

That's the sad truth: Support for old hardware diverts manpower from more lucrative things in the business: Creating and selling new phones.

[1] https://www.ifixit.com/Device/Fairphone_1

Fantastic. Gone with planned obsolescence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

Great news. As the author says, please support the right to repair movement in Europe if you care about repairability: https://repair.eu/, https://repair.eu/smartphones/.

Speaking of phones, they often are purposely rendered obsolete by preventing them to install OS upgrades or migrating them to other more open OSes long before they break for other reasons. While this is a laudable initiative, sadly it won't be much effective against phones planned obsolescence. Opening hardware specs would be a true giant step against this. Not holding my breath though.

True. I deeply regret not spending idk 70€ more getting an iPhone SE instead of the Moto G5 Plus. Last security update was January 2019, as I got about 2 of 3 years of "support". Somehow I was assuming there was going to be an official lineageOS build. Guess what...

I am now in the situation where I can't bring myself to buy Android again, but don't really have the 500 bucks for the new SE. Honestly, new techy features became the least important factor for decision making for me. Support/security > connectivity > battery > repairability > X.

I've found that the best solution is: get (used) previous gen high-end (and popular) that has unlocked bootloader. Being popular means I'll find plenty of parts for repair and likely have options for firmware installs.

I got myself a S8 when S10 was about to come out. Fraction of the price and I can keep updating it beyond Samsung efforts.

I still own a Nexus5 5 which seems to be the target of most non-android OS development effort despite its age.

(Another aspect I try to consider is repairability, which phones such as S8 hardly make it easy which it's fragile curve OLED display)

We're past peak smartphones now, I see no need to run after the latest cpu increase or extra camera so that it takes bokeh better. But that's me.

Wow, this is some great news! Hopefully this trend of electronics that are nigh impossible to repair will be gone next decade.

Would be cool to have a standard for measuring the difficulty of repairing software.

Repairable device of decent quality can also yield much better second-hand prices, which can even drive up the value of the original product. Thinkpad laptops are a good example.

As long as having a certain score is not mandatory...

I like my iPhones, and I couldn't care less about their repairability. If they stop working and I'm out of warranty I just buy a new one.

iPhones’ repairability is fine, but your attitude of not caring about the environment at all isn’t.

This looks clearly like a laudable effort and positive trend, but I can't avoid to foresee paradoxical scenarios along the lines of "I needed to replace my 3 years old perfectly functional fridge with repairability class F with a new one with repairability class D++"

What is the paradox here? The standard won't force replacements.

The paradox is "A standard aimed at preventing replacement will be used to catalyze replacements". Standards never enforce replacements. Regulations and Fashions enforce replacements on the basis of standards.

Can you give an example of what such a regulation could look like and of standards as a significant driver of fashion?

"Reduced" property taxes on low environmental impact residential units. Which in fact turns into increased property taxes on "environmentally inefficient" residential units. Which turns into higher fiscal pressure for people that cannot afford to refurbish their homes. Which turns into them selling their properties (sometimes built by their great grandfathers) to rich turists that are able to afford the required refurbishments.

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