Eco-Friendly Phones: Is It Possible?

For those looking for smartphones where there’s a minimal impact on the environment, it’s worth considering the ways in which they’re both used and manufactured. Many companies strive to ensure their technology is built using sustainable sources of materials and energy, and this push towards a less harmful smartphone industry is a positive step that should be encouraged.

Recently, a report by O2 showed that quite a wide variety of handsets were built with sustainability in mind, and comes as good news to those who are worried that the endless push of new model after new model may be causing a buildup of old, unused handsets lying around somewhere. In fairness, there’s little reason to do this considering the number of services that will now actually offer you money for your old handsets, but it’s a reasonable concern nonetheless.

If you’re looking at the top-of-the-line models with some scepticism, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. Late last year, the iPhone 5 was named as one of the most environmentally-friendly phones on the market, which is a nice green label to slap on Apple’s latest smartphone. Since the original iPhone launched in 2007, Apple have clearly been working hard to make their phones as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, and it’s paid off, now that their handset sits in the top ranks of green smartphones. So if you were looking at an iPhone 5 on O2 and wondering about its relationship with the earth, you can rest assured it’s not the evil-box you might’ve guessed it was.

This goes for other models, too, of course – Nokia do a lot of hard work on making their phones sustainably, and this is impressive given the hardware (such as their famous high-quality cameras) that they’re bringing to the table. This is the key issue here, really – that we want good smartphones, that can complete a wide variety of tasks as efficiently as possible, but without jeopardising the health of the world around us.

Of course, it’s possible to take this analysis further and take a closer look at accessories, like chargers. There are indeed eco-friendly chargers available that use a wide range of techniques to put some juice into your phone, from solar power to kinetic energy (hey, it’s exercise). This is an important aspect of owning a smartphone, as the energy-conscious will be considering where their next charge is going to come from, and at what cost.

Then again, there are many built-in ways to use a phone’s various features to optimise life depending on how you use it without needing to resort to apps. Using airplane mode when underground, leaving Bluetooth off unless you’re actually using a device that requires it – small changes that you’ll find will change how often you charge. Smartphones are generally long-lasting devices, and many of them have replaceable batteries, so you could see quite a long lifespan pan out with a single device.

Smartphones are as eco-friendly as they can be, and manufacturers do seem to be looking for ways to essentially beat each other to the top of the green rankings. To be honest, that seems like a really great result for consumers and the environment, as that element of competition will result in better and better handsets. Go green or go home, it seems, is the smartphone engineer’s motto, these days.


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