Jul 14, 2023 3 min read

Gaming handhelds, like the Switch and Steam Deck, will need to have a replaceable battery by 2027

Could EU law make it so any future Steam Deck would have a replaceable battery?

Steam Deck battery (Image via Carsten Frauenheim for iFixit)

Could EU law make it so any future Steam Deck would have a replaceable battery?

Newly adopted European Union regulation has outlined how all devices sold by 2027, including those found in gaming handhelds, will need to have a user replaceable battery.

This regulation, adopted by the European Council just this week, aims to strengthen sustainability practices around the entire lifecycle of a range of portable batteries, and this includes right-to-repair powers for end-users.

What you need to know:

■ EU regulation wants all devices to have replaceable batteries;
■ An EU official confirmed to overkill this applies to gaming devices;
■ Legislation won't go into effect until 2027, four years from now;
■ Will likely only impact new products;
■ The regulation will likely face pushback from hardware makers.

So, what does this mean for gaming devices? Well, this EU law, on paper at least, suggests that portable gaming handhelds sold within the EU, such as the Steam Deck, ASUS ROG Ally, and Nintendo Switch, would need to have removable batteries.

overkill spoke directly with an EU source who confirmed that yes, "the batteries of gaming handhelds are covered by the batteries and waste batteries regulation".

Of course, it's worth noting that this regulation would likely only apply to new products, so maybe it's more accurate to say this could impact a Nintendo Switch 2 or follow-up Steam Deck for example.

The lengthy regulation document outlines how any device bought to market that has a battery needs to ensure that the batteries "are readily removable and replaceable by the end-user at any time during the lifetime of the product".

It goes on to state 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 specialised tools, unless provided free of charge with the product".

The document goes on to note that product manufacturers will need to include instructions and safety information to help aid with the removal and replacement of these batteries.

This regulation has been a long time coming, and was first proposed last year — however as 9-to-5 Mac suggests (in discussing how this would impact smartphones), the regulation will probably face plenty of pushback from hardware makers, and compliance will this legislation will no doubt be interpreted in a handful of novel ways.

Will this happen?

Well, I think the intention is generally a good one, and parts of the EUs proposals are solid (particularly on reducing waste) — however I imagine the regulation will face a decent amount of opposition before it becomes a reality, and what we end up with may be different from what's being proposed here.

Will we be able to pop the back off a Switch 2 and change the battery like we did with the Game Boy's of old? I'm not holding my breath.

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