Wastful - but unfortunaltly not uncommon
Having a chemical test get interpreted by electronics using an optical sensor is not uncommon. A well calibrated system is considerably more deterministic than even the best trained human using a Mk I eyeball. So I am not in the slightest bit upset about using electronics to 'read' a chemical test strip (regardless of how easy it would be to do so)
What is annoying is that the electronics are single use.
Surly we can come up with a similar device with replaceable strips?
Looking at the PCB (as an electronics engineer by trade) it looks like the only thing preventing that from happening is that the mechanical design would need changing to allow strips to be replaced. Other than the fact you are going to pee on it, a simple slot on the end would be enough. Realistically this would need a transparent plastic over the optics (LEDs and LDTs by the look of things), I doubt that this would cost much more than a single additional plastic part, enabling the electronics to remain sealed against moisture ingress whilst still providing no external light path to the sensor area. The battery is probably good for several months without improving the electronics, so really there is nothing much else to do.
Indeed I suspect that the original engineering would have been this sort of design.
The real problem is that if you sell 1 reusable 'reader' and a set of test strips you don't make the same amount of profit, no matter where you sit in the supply chain...