A guide to environmentally friendly smartphone usage

Use, buy, or get rid of your smartphone the right way.

Environmentally friendly smartphone

by Jack Barrell |
Published on

Having access to some of the best smartphones is nothing new, there’s a range of budgets and specs to choose from nowadays and it’s virtually impossible to not find something for you. Although, have we asked ourselves our easy it is to get hold of an environmentally friendly smartphone? Sustainability is in, so what better way to integrate it into our day-to-day lives than with the tech we use the most.

It's important to know exactly why you should opt for a more environmentally friendly smartphone but it’s even more vital to know what you should look for. There’re various factors at play that’ll make a device sustainable and pro-environment, and at What’s the Best, it’s our pleasure to break it all down for you.

Why choose an environmentally friendly smartphone?

When you make the decision to go for an environmentally friendly smartphone as opposed to a harmfully mass produced one, you massively help out the environment, but you’ll also have a better smartphone experience in the long term.

A worrying number of contemporary smartphones are built using cheap and harmful materials. What’s even more concerning is the toll that extracting and assembling these materials has on the environment. These metals and plastics are harmful to produce, they’re not made to last, and they’re damaging to dispose of.

According to Statista, there are approximately 6.9 billion smartphones in the world right now, and this figure is estimated to increase to nearly eight billion by 2028. If you consider that large majority of these smartphones have been manufactured through unsustainable means, you’re looking at a seriously detrimental global footprint.

When you buy an environmentally friendly phone, you’ve made a conscious decision to be a part of a far more sustainable process. As a result, the cost to the environment is much less.

Contrary to popular belief, going down the sustainable route with smartphones does have benefits for the users too. Environmentally friendly smartphones are built to last, and to run efficiently for a very long time. That should be enough to win over anyone.

How to spot an environmentally friendly smartphone

Phone outside
©Noizy Bull/Unsplash


When we talk about sustainability of a smartphone, there’s a focus on the materials that the device is made of. The most environmentally friendly phones should be designed with recycled aluminium and a range of recyclable plastics. Anything else, and there’s a good chance it won’t do the environment any good once it’s run its lifecycle.

Design and repairability

An environmentally friendly smartphone is a smartphone that lasts, if you can keep your hands on a device for the better part of three years or more, then you’re onto a winner. The fewer reasons that you have to replace or repair a smartphone, the better. All phones have a lifespan, no matter how well you look after them, but it’s important to pick a phone with a good resistance to water, heat, and dust damage.

Repairability has a huge impact on mobile phone sustainability, but it’s becoming tougher and tougher to accomplish. As smartphone tech advances, we’re seeing more cutting-edge designs and unique builds. Unfortunately, models like these can be tricky to repair, even by specialists. Characteristics like curved or folding screens, and patented technologies haven’t helped repairability one bit. We recommend avoiding products like these, and instead pick up a home repair kit, should the time ever come where your mobile phone does need some work.

Energy efficiency

Of course, all smartphones need juice. So, the more efficient the battery is, the less often you’ll need to charge it. Smartphones with weak batteries that require charging multiple times a day are no good for the environment. If you instead opt for an energy-efficient mobile device, not only will you be doing the environment a favour, but you won’t have to worry about running out of power when you need it the most.

Environmentally friendly Certifications

ECOLOGO - A certification body that certifies phones with expert technological lifestyle standards.

EPEAT - Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool, indicates a checklist of sustainable criteria, including longevity, energy usage, material selection, and more.

Energy Star - Energy Star is typically used with appliances but often appears amongst smartphones as well. A certification from Energy Star ensures that a product is energy-efficient, and stays energy-efficient throughout its lifecycle.

Apple VS Samsung on sustainability

Apple vs Samsung sustainability
©Thai Nguyen/Unsplash

Despite what the anti-Apple mob would have you believe. Apple has actually made strides in sustainability in recent years, and it ticks a lot of boxes with its latest and greatest iPhones when it comes to the environmentally friendly conversation. Corporate operations have been carbon neutral since 2020, and it’s aiming to hit that goal across all operations by 2030. This considerably supersedes Samsung’s target of 2050.

Both tech giants have promised to only use recycled material for their phones either now or very soon, so the two are even there.

Apple’s durability is a hot and cold topic. Many smartphone users stand by the build of the iPhone, but others are convinced that the software and the processors take a big performance dip as newer models are churned out. It also goes without saying that Apple isn’t exactly renowned for the iPhone battery life, whereas Samsung has a much better repour.

How to be a sustainable smartphone user

Preserving battery life

A battery on any device should be looked after, and there are a few methods of doing so. Reducing screen brightness is a good start, there’re few situations that’ll require your smartphone to be at full brightness. Keeping it as low as possible will certainlypreserve your battery life.

Manage your open applications, don’t be one of these people who have 30 tabs open at once. This is a sure-fire way to never see the full potential of your device’s battery life.

Charge smart too, don’t leave your phone on charge all night long when it’s already reached full capacity. In the same breath, let the battery run all the way down before charging up to full again. You have to look after your battery health like you’d look after anything else.

Keeping up with updates

Updates boost performance and keep your smartphone’s functions working the very best that they can. So, making sure that your phone is equipped with the latest software updates is essential long term. No matter the make or operating system, you can check this in your device’s settings. Go from the Settings, to System, and Software Updates.

Fix, don't replace

Don’t be too quick to jump the gun when you start to experience issues with your mobile phone. There could be a simple sollution that’ll save you money and the environment by discarding another mobile phone that doesn’t need to be.

You can either take your device to a specialist to be assessed and potentially repaired, or you might be able to do it yourself. With a phone repair kit and access to spare parts sites like Replace Base, you could have your smartphone back up and running in no time.

Remember to recycle

You can only delay the inevitable for so long, eventually the time will come to get a new smartphone. It’s all about disposing of your old one in the right way, not leaving it on a shelf or in a drawer to gather dust for eternity. You can sell it or hand it down to someone you know, or even take it to a charity shop where they can send it off to be recycled properly.

Jack Barrell is a Tech and Fitness Writer for What’s the Best. He is invested in all things entertainment and keeps well up to date with the latest sports and exercise trends too. On his off days Jack can usually be found doing one of two things; lifting heavy weights – or watching his favourite Star Wars for the thousandth time.

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