A Green smartphone is a bit of an oxymoron, in that there is not much environmental friendliness involved in the making of cell phones. And when you consider that the percentage of Americans that own smartphones is now 81%, up from just 35% nine years ago, according to Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership–the impact on the planet is something we should all be aware of when choosing a phone.
A new study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production shows that while the Information and Communication Industry (ICT) from around 2010-2020, including PCs, laptops, monitors, smartphones, and servers represented 1% of the carbon footprint in 2007, it’s already about tripled, and is on its way to exceeding 14% by 2040. That’s half as large as the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry.
And while there are plenty of mobile apps to help you live a greener lifestyle, the phone you are using those apps on may be a huge part of the problem.
So what makes one phone greener than another?
There are several layers involved, including:
Materials Used in Manufacturing
Energy is required in the factory and in mining the needed materials, including rare-earth metals like yttrium and lanthanum.
The race is on between phone manufacturers to come out with bigger, flashier phones with bells and whistles to out-do the competition. Unfortunately, the larger the phone, the larger the carbon footprint. An independent study concluded that the iPhone 6s created 57% more CO2 than the iPhone 4s. That is a pretty staggering leap.
● Is it waterproof?
● Is the battery replaceable?
● Is it easily repaired?
How easily recyclable or disposable is it?
What waste products will it leave behind at the end of its life?
Do consumers care about this kind of stuff?
Studies show that yes, consumers do care and they definitely have a growing awareness about their impact on the environment. The younger generation – millennials and Gen Z, more than any other age group are, according to a Gallup poll, “highly worried about global warming, think it will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, believe it’s the result of human activity, and think news reports about it are accurate or underestimate the problem.”
With all that in mind, we did our research, and we have compiled a list of the 3 Best Eco-Friendly Green Android Smartphones on the market today.
1.Used/Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S6 (Or Any Used Smartphone)
Of course, the greenest smartphone you can buy is a used smartphone. The data varies – One study shows that people are keeping their phones for nearly three years on average, however many more are upgrading their phones every 12-24 months, and carriers are encouraging it. Given that crazy turnover rate of phones, millions of choices can be found on the second-hand market and sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon.
Many cellular companies and retailers also refurbish older devices and offer them for a fraction of their original price. And the best used smartphones are a generation or two old flagship models from major smartphone manufacturers, such as Samsung or LG.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a great choice in refurbished options. With a metal unibody frame and glass backing, streamlined user interface, support for major wireless charging standards, and support for a mobile payments platform, the Galaxy S6 received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised the devices’ upgraded build quality over prior models. The camera takes sharp, vibrant pictures that rival cameras on newer phones.
On their website, Samsung proclaims that from design and manufacturing to purchase and usage to end-of-life processing and disposal they are committed to reducing environmental impact.
Their track record is definitely way better than companies like Apple. They are committed to constantly improving energy efficiency and recyclability and reducing hazardous substances in products through an Eco-design Process and Eco-rating System which evaluates the sustainability performance of all products throughout their life cycle.
In their phone packaging, Samsung has swapped the typical plastic trays for pulp molds, using paper and other bioengineered plastics as well. Accessory bags use eco-friendly materials, and phone chargers in the future will be matte, eliminating the plastic film required to protect them during transport.
The S10 gets our vote because it is designed to make repairs easier, allowing you to keep this phone through its whole lifespan.
On their website, Samsung says that by collecting products that have reached the end of their lifespan they recover valuable materials. Through this circular economy, they are lowering the amount of natural resources required for production, reducing greenhouse gas and pollutants from the incineration of waste, and preventing soil and underground water contamination caused by landfills.
Samsung also offers a “Trade-Up” program.
What does this mean for you and the environment?
This means you lease the phone, getting a new one every year. This allows for reusing parts, utilizing recycled packaging and plastics, and increasing the recyclability of new products’ components for later use.
It’s a win-win.
3. Sony Xperia ZR
Kazuo Hirai, President, and CEO of Sony says, “At Sony, we always endeavor to reduce environmental impact in our wide range of products. These efforts are evident in a compact, lightweight, energy-efficient designs that reduce wasted resources and power consumption, and our commitment to using recycled materials.”
The “Durable Gorilla Glass 6 means tougher durability and protection against drops. And an IP65/685 rating means it can stand up to water, dust, and more.
Sony exclaims on their website that they are striving to achieve a zero environmental footprint:
At Sony, we always endeavor to reduce environmental impact in our wide range of products. These efforts are evident in compact, lightweight, energy-efficient designs that reduce wasted resources and power consumption, and our commitment to using recycled materials.
Sony is using up to 99% recycled materials to contribute to building a sustainable society. These materials make this green phone lightweight, weighing only 138 grams.
It’s encouraging that the mindfulness of these corporations is aligning with people’s concern about global warming and the impact our buying choices and cell phone habits have on the planet.
When you do eventually buy a new phone make sure you recycle or sell your old one rather than just throw it out. An awesome way to do this is to donate to a charity like Big Sky Recycling that reduces ewaste by donating and recycling cell phones for Soldiers, Veterans, and their families.
Earth 911 is a good resource for recycling old phones.
In a perfect green world, we will all make smarter choices in our consumption and pay our good intentions forward by donating, reusing, and recycling.