The new regulation passed by the European Union has ruled that all electronic devices will need to incorporate a user-replaceable battery by 2027.
This means that some of the best handheld games consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck will need to incorporate batteries that can be replaced easily in order to cut down on E-waste. The European Parliament ruling states that all devices within the EU will be beholden to this regulation in the next four years.
The document states that the batteries in the devices will need to be “readily removable and replaceable by the end-user at any time during the lifetime of the product” and that: “a portable battery shall be considered readily removable by the end-user where it can be removed from a product with the use of commercially available tools, without requiring the use of specialized tools, unless provided free of charge with the product” (via Overkill).
Over the past decade or so, batteries have become difficult to replace without specialist knowledge and the right equipment. We’ve seen smartphones go from previously offering batteries that can be swapped out to bespoke lithium-ion packs made near-impossible to replace. Now, that could all be changing.
As impressive as today’s battery technology is, the chemical processes are still the same. Every time you charge your handheld, the condition of the battery itself slowly degrades. You’ll notice you’ll need to charge your device in shorter intervals before resorting to just keeping it plugged in. Now, in the next four years, you should be able to swap out the battery on your device with minimal messing around.
It remains to be seen exactly how this new legislation will be enforced and how it will change the design philosophy of handheld gaming consoles and other devices in the future. At a time when tech seems to be getting sleeker and smaller, this new ruling will mean accommodating the end user. It’s likely that hardware manufacturers such as Valve and Nintendo will sell their own battery packs, too, which could lead to a way of sustainably recycling expired batteries in a kind of exchange plan.
Time will tell how this is actioned with new hardware going forward, however, it sounds like an all-around pro-consumer move for gamers. With batteries being able to be swapped out and easily replaced, there will be less reason to discard an otherwise out-of-action handheld games console or portable PC, and that can only be a good thing.
Check out our definitive ranking of the best PC games to play on Steam Deck or the best Nintendo Switch games if you prefer playing on a console. We’re also rounding up the best SD cards for Switch as well.