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Restart Podcast Ep. 50: Why we must win the right to repair our smartphones

A woman repairing her smartphone at a Restart Party

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In early February, the European Right to Repair Campaign launched a petition demanding the addition of smartphones to future EU legislation on device repairability. Restart is a part of this campaign.

What we are asking for sounds simple: good design of our devices, fair access to repair manuals and spare parts, and information on our products and how to repair them. However, manufacturers have blocked this at every turn. Smartphones have quickly become the most used electronic devices in our lives and we need the means to prolong their lives and reduce e-waste.

A look back

In this, our 50th episode, we look back to previous episodes of the podcast to piece together why it is so important that we fight for the right to repair our phones.

From designers, to geographers, to repairers, to engineers, to our own team… we hear how people have struggled with repairing their own phones and how they believe consumer and manufacturer attitudes towards our devices must change.

Following the lifecycle of a smartphone, we start at the design process. We touch upon how to design more ethically and sustainably, and the debate regarding the trade-off between aesthetics and functionality. We hear about the restrictions that manufacturers put in place, both explicitly in their terms of use and implicitly: roadblocks that Right to Repair are specifically fighting against.

From hardware to software, we discuss premature obsolescence and how far the responsibility falls on phone manufacturers to help us keep our phones updated and secure.

And finally, while their small size may be deceiving, we also talk to experts about how disposing of your smartphone leads to a lot more waste than just in the materials – which in themselves are often rare and unsalvageable. We learn about the massive carbon footprint of mobiles outside of their in-use stage and how repairing our devices would limit this.

Time for a change

Ultimately, we hope this episode will make you think, and remind you how little our discussion on smartphones has evolved over the years.

Some of the issues that we discussed five years ago are still crucial in the world of mobile manufacture and they need to finally be addressed. So sign the petition and fight for the right to repair your smartphone!


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