Would You Buy a ‘Green’ Smartphone?

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We recently heard that the Samsung Replenish will likely be a “green” smartphone. However, not many details about what that actually means were provided.

Since I’m sort of a “green”, environmentally conscious kind of guy, that got me thinking: what do I want in a “green” phone, and what does “green” mean to me.

Power Conservation

When most people think “green”, power conservation generally comes to mind. A “green” phone could have a solar panel on the front or the back to help harness energy from the sun and reduce the amount of energy needed from the grid.

I use a powered USB hub to charge multiple devices using only one wall wart. I guess if I were to be entirely “green” I’d use a solar panel to charge my smartphone — but since I use my phone in the day while the sun is up, charging it using the sun would be impractical. Luckily, you can buy a battery pack that’s charged by the sun, so you can recharge your phone when the sun is down.

Something that we often overlook is how much power is sucked down by the wall warts that convert the power from your electrical socket into something usable for your phone — and continue to suck it down even when you unplug your smartphone! Making these converters more efficient, or able to “turn off” when the phone is unplugged would save a LOT of otherwise wasted energy. Building powered USB ports into regular power outlets could also eliminate the need for most wall warts entirely.

Eliminate Waste

Come to think of it, why do most people need another USB cable, wall wart, and headset with every new phone they get? Why not reduce the amount of “stuff” that’s included with every new smartphone and encourage re-use of what we already have? After all, if someone needs one of those they’ll end up buying one, but for all of us who already have one (or a drawer-full) it’s that much saved.

How about those manuals? Every phone I review comes with about six little manuals in various languages. Can we put those in PDFs (or some other format) on the microsd card that comes with the phone? I never read them, but if someone does, they’re right there on the sdcard and can be printed out or read on-screen very easily!

Reduced and Recyclable Packaging

Who says we have to put a lot of energy into a box that’s likely going to be thrown away? The box the HTC Desire S came in was beautifully simple. It was essentially a brown cardboard box wrapped in white, printed card stock with little to no glue holding it together. The phone’s “tray” looked like it had been made using formed paper-slurry. What’s more, it looked GOOD!

Upgradability and Durability

The carriers and manufacturers may night like this next little bit, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you have a phone that’s easily upgraded to the latest operating system, and powerful enough to run it well, we don’t need to replace our phone as frequently. Think of the savings this one little thing would realize!

The only reason I would need to replace my phone is if it were lost or damaged. To address the latter, phones should be made sufficiently durable to keep them looking good and running well even when subjected to — dare I say — “everyday use”!

My phones have been dropped, kicked, left outside, and sat on more times that I care to admit. Yet other than some cosmetic damage, they have kept running strong. I’ve got to give HTC credit for making their phones more durable than a lot of their competition.

Cleaner Manufacturing

While all those can be considered “low hanging fruit” that should be easily adopted by manufacturers, carriers, and consumers alike, they only get us so far. To be truly “green” we’ve got to clean up manufacturing, create less waste in the process, and eventually use less “stuff” to make each unit.

Batteries, for example, are also notoriously “dirty” technologies. We need to improve them significantly.

Unfortunately, you and I can’t address much in this section directly. However, we can try to educate ourselves as to who is making devices in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly fashion, and send a message to the companies that make “greener” products with our wallets.

But maybe that’s all just me. What about you? What would you like to see in a “green” smartphone? Would you go out of your way to buy “green”? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

Image: Concept Phones

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.