iPhone 5 — Is It ‘Green’?

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The iPhone 5 was announced by Apple yesterday. The new phone was given some pretty noticeable upgrades and changes, but is it ‘green’ to buy a new phone every year? Is the iPhone 5 itself ‘greener’ than its predecessors?

The major upgrades are a larger 4-inch Retina display, a thinner overall device, and a host of new features and design changes. Some of these changes make it slightly more green, but others, definitely not.

One of the main pros of the new phone is that it uses a faster and much more efficient processing chip, the new A6 chip is nearly twice as fast as the old chip, but it also is much more efficient in its power use.
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As a result, the battery life is expected to improve to the equivalent of “8 hours of 3G talk time, 8 hours of 3G browsing, 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of music playback, and 225 hours of standby time. That’s a nice increase compared to the 4S, which comparatively offered 6 hours of 3G browsing, 9 hours of Wi-Fi and 200 hours of standby time,” Megan Treacy of TreeHugger reports.

Another nice improvement is in its durability — they are switching back to a metal back rather than the glass one used for the last couple of models. This should go a long way to decrease the waste from easily broken phones.

There is also a better camera. “While it’s the same megapixels as the improved 4S camera, the new camera is supposed to be better in low lighting situations, have reduced noise, be 40 percent faster and also offers a panorama feature. If it hasn’t already, this could mark the full replacement of a point and shoot camera for iPhone users, which means one less gadget being consumed.”

The cons are all pretty significant though, many leading to greatly increased waste.

“The only major hardware change that makes it to the con list is a pretty significant one. The new, smaller dock connector renders all existing speaker docks, accessories, and charger/syncing cables using the previous 30-prong design obsolete. Apple says it will offer an adapter and adapter cables for $19 to $39, but most likely we’re going to see a bunch of ditched speaker docks and cables. Accessory makers like Bose, JBL, and Bowers have stated they’re already working on new models to work with the redesign.”

If you are going to be replacing your phone for the new model, I, like Megan, strongly encourage that you recycle your old phone by “reselling it to one of the many sites that are itching to pay you cash for your old model, like Gazelle, NextWorth and ReCellular.” As Megan adds: “While you’re at it, resell any of your 30-prong accessories too. Electronic resellers pay more when you include cables and chargers and eBay is always a good option for speaker docks and larger accessories. Keeping these items in the consumer stream extends their life and prevents them from becoming e-waste and gives other people a used option to buy instead of a new one having to be manufactured.”

Still, the question remains: is it green to upgrade your phone every year? I think the jury is still out on that one.

Source: TreeHugger
Image Credits: Apple

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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