If approved new regulations would mean batteries on iPod and iPhone would have to be readily replaceable

Among Smartphones, the best selling device on  the market right now according to NPD Group is the Apple iPhone 3G. The iPhone is also the second best selling mobile phone of all right behind the Motorola RAZR V3.

One of the biggest criticisms of the device is that the battery is not user replaceable. For the vast majority of consumers not being able to replace the built-in rechargeable battery is not that big of a deal. When the original iPhone launched, there was an outcry against the non-replaceable battery. Apple ended up announcing an $86 mail-in replacement program for the battery.

AppleInsider reports that new directives being proposed could see Apple having to redesign all of its products -- including the iPhone -- to accommodate removable batteries that can be thrown away when the life of the product is over.

If approved the new directives wouldn’t be the first time a European program has forced product manufacturers to redesign products that are sold globally. RoHS went into effect in 2006 and many manufacturers went back to the drawing board for redesigns that would meet the specification.

Apple was specifically affected by RoHS with its iSight camera, which would have required a redesign to meet RoHS specifications. The result was Apple pulled the separate camera off the global market and integrated the iSight into its computers.

The new batteries directive would force all products sold in Europe to have batteries that are readily removable at the end of the product life to prevent the item from being sent to landfills or recycled with the battery inside.

The proposed directives are not intended to force manufacturers to redesign the products in a specific way reports AppleInsider. Rather the goal is to keep toxic materials out of landfills. No matter the intention of the regulations, the side effect could be something that consumers have been clamoring for since the iPod and iPhone were introduced -- removable batteries.

If Apple had to redesign to meet the criteria in Europe, it would mean that products globally would see the same features since it would make no sense to build and market products with two different designs. This could lead the way to an iPhone or iPod where the user could simply pop in a new and freshly charged battery on the run for additional run time.

AppleInsider quotes Gary Nevison of New Electronics saying, "the requirement is clearly intended to ensure that users can remove batteries by opening a cover by hand or after removal of one or two screws. The producer will also have to provide the user with details on how to remove the battery safely."

Knowing how closed Apple likes to keep its product ecosystem, if the new EU regulations are approved Apple could designing the product to require screws to be removed to access the battery. This would effectively prevent a user from popping in a new battery on the go; few would want to have to resort to removing screws for a few more hours of use.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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