Smartphone Sustainability: How To Make Your Device Last Longer

In 2023, there are an estimated 5.25 billion global smartphone users. However, we must consider the ubiquitous device's significant impact on the environmental footprint.

95% of the smartphone industry's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are produced in the manufacturing stage, as production involves mining rare earth metals, using significant amounts of water and energy, and releasing greenhouse gases.

Here are some ways smartphone manufacturers can design more eco-friendly devices:

  • Use recycled materials - Using recycled materials for the components and packaging can save energy, water, and natural resources and reduce waste and emissions. Reusing materials means less reliance on mining, which is incredibly carbon-intensive.
  • Optimize energy efficiency - This means designing mobile phones to consume less power, last longer, and charge faster. 5G networks have been designed to minimize energy usage. 
  • Extend device lifespan - This means designing mobile phones to be durable, repairable, and upgradable. Smartphone manufacturers should provide easy access to spare parts, repair services, and software updates.

However, it is also vital for smartphone users to play their part in sustaining the environment, so let's look at four ways you can make your device last longer.

Think About Battery Health 

Your battery's health directly affects your mobile phone's performance and lifespan. Here are some tips to keep your device's battery healthy:

  • Avoid letting your phone battery die - Fully draining it can shorten its lifespan. Try to keep it between 20% and 80% charged at all times.
  • In contrast, don't overcharge it either. If you leave your phone plugged in once it reaches 100% charge, the battery will diminish over time. Newer iPhones can sometimes recognize when you're charging overnight and delay the charge at 80% for a few hours.
  • Change screen settings - Turn down your screen's brightness and have it turn itself off after 30 seconds.
  • Keep an eye on your phone's temperature - Extremely hot and cold temperatures can cause harm to your battery, so avoid leaving the device in direct sunlight or very cold places.
  • Take advantage of power-saving features - Most smartphones now have a power-saving mode that limits background activities and dims screen brightness to save battery life.
  • Turn off wireless connections - If you're not using a Bluetooth device like a smartwatch or headphones, switch off your phone's Bluetooth connection. Similarly, unless you need it, switch off your phone's Wi-Fi.
  • Turn off your GPS - Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other location-based apps drain your battery.
  • Turn off vibrations - The vibration function on your device uses more battery power than standard ringtones.

Look After It

Physical damage is one of the most common reasons people replace or repair their mobile phones, so protecting your device from potential harm is essential.

Consider using a protective case and a high-quality screen protector to safeguard your phone from drops, knocks, spills and scratches. In addition, regularly cleaning your device can also prevent dirt and dust from damaging sockets and ports.

Repair, Don't Replace

Across the world, 150 million mobile phones are discarded annually. 

In the event that your phone does get damaged, it would help if you considered it, where possible, and continue to use it rather than buying a new one. Doing so helps reduce e-waste, conserve resources, and save money. 

Companies like London's iRepairMan offer repair services for cracked screens, broken charging ports, and unhealthy batteries, thereby extending the device's lifespan.

By choosing to repair your phone rather than discard it, you're saving your phone and contributing to a more sustainable future.

Sell And Buy Second Hand

As we shift towards a more circular economy, selling and buying second-hand mobile phones is a great place to start.

880 million electrical items, such as smartphones and tablets, are lying unused in households across the UK. Selling your old devices benefits your wallet and prevents them from becoming e-waste on landfill sites.

In addition, websites like Smartphone Checker offer second-hand but well refurbished phones, saving you money and helping the environment.

The Future Of Smartphone Sustainability 

In summary, making your mobile phone last longer is a vital step towards reducing the overall environmental impact of the smartphone industry. The green tech tips in this article can help you enjoy your device for longer while contributing to a more sustainable future.

Whilst you should do what you can to make your device last longer, smartphone manufacturers should continue to do their bit by: 

  • Promoting a circular economy - Smartphone manufacturers should offer buy-back programs, trade-in discounts, or donation options for their customers. This encourages consumers to reuse, recycle, or trade-in their old devices instead of throwing them away. 
  • Educating consumers - This means providing transparent and accurate information about the carbon footprint of their products on their website or product labels, as well as providing tips and tools for customers who want to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Collaborating with stakeholders - This means working with suppliers, distributors, regulators, and others who can help improve the environmental performance and standards of the smartphone industry.