US E-Labels Act Ends The Requirement For Regulator Labels

Smartphone users in the US rejoice. You now have less clutter to stare at on the back of your devices. President Barack Obama has just signed into law the E-Labels Act which loosens the noose on device manufacturers to physically imprint regulators' signages on devices. This serves to clear up some room and conserve some space on devices, especially smaller ones. But considering it is just a US law, device makers will still have to comply with similar policies in other countries in the meantime.

The removable of labels on devices, usually on the rear side, has been a long-standing wish of both users and manufacturers. For users, it definitely mars an otherwise pretty plate, especially for those models whose back covers cannot be removed. For manufacturers, it's a matter of design and manufacturing costs, as it requires them to leave enough space to put all the lables, names, and numbers in spaces.

On tablets, that might not be an issue. On smartphones, it might be minimal considering there seems to be an upward trend in smartphone sizes. The real problem lies in the young but growing smartwatch and wearable markets. Just imagine the already cramped space for any sort of label on the underside of the device. Add that to the fact that people are actually clamoring for smaller smartwatches. Designing around such limitations, just for regulation labels, are described as both difficult and costly.

On the other hand, such labels aren't really just for show. They are there for consumer protection, to let them know that the device they are using has been tested and has passed government standards for safety, not necessarily quality. The compromise? Such labels, signs, and information can instead be offered via a menu in the smartphone software. In short, an electronic label, hence the law's name.

That said, it isn't an all out victory just yet. Though the situation has changed in the US, manufacturers still need to comply with other countries' and region's regulations. In particular, the European Union requires devices to display the "CE" logo, for Conformite Europeenne or European Confirmity. So it will be quite some time before devices will be clean of regulator labels. But then you'd still have to deal with manufacturer and carrier logos, some of which can be placed rather distastefully.