Most cell phones don’t even come close to being green — their chargers are energy inefficient, they contain hazardous chemicals, and they not are designed for upgrading or easy recycling. Recently though, some the big players in the field like Nokia and Sony Ericsson are making moves towards green design.
As far as assessing which phones are greenest, the best report we found was conducted by Greenpeace. Their report “Searching For Green Electronics” (PDF File) was published in June, and it rates the green attributes of cell phones based on a number of criteria. Greenpeace incorporated recycling reports by EPEAT (PDF File) and reports by Energy Star.
Here’s our round-up of this year’s greenest cell phones:
Sony Ericsson T650i
Sony Ericsson T650i stands out as this year’s greenest cell phone. The T650i’s charger is energy efficient (it exceeds Energy Star requirements by 24%), and the phone’s components are free of PVC, phthalates and beryllium. The T650i’s main circuit board is free of brominated flame retardants.
The T650i is good looking phone – it has a stainless steel finish on its casing and features scratch-resistant mineral glass. It has a 930 mAh lithium-polymer battery is rated at up to 7 hours of talk time, and up to 300 hours of digital standby time. It runs on the 900/1800/1900 GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies, as well as international 3G networks (2100 MHz, found in Europe and Asia).
Sony Ericsson appears to be taking a lead on environmental standards: here’s the company’s environmental statement. They score high on energy criteria because all of its products meet and exceed the Energy Star standard. They recycling program leaves a lot of be desired though – they report a product recycling rate of just 1%-13%.
The Sony Ericsson T650i is available from Amazon.
Like the Sony Ericsson T650i, Nokia’s N95 phone is free from PVC and phthalates. Its circuit board is free of brominated flame retardants and antimony, but still contains beryllium. N95’s charger is less energy efficient than Sony Ericsson’s phone — it exceeds Energy Star requirement by only 3%.
The N95 combines a lot of devices into one: it’s a cell phone, a GPS receiver, a digital camera/camcorder, a digital audio player, and a PDA. Some of the phone’s highlights includes a 2-way slide design, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 5 megapixel camera.
It’s a quad-band GSM/EDGE phone that runs on 3G networks here in the US (850/1900 MHz UMTS/HSDPA).
Importantly, the Nokia N95 offers the best ratio between the price of a new battery and the price of a new phone (the lower the battery price being a greater incentive for the consumer to replace the battery rather than discard the entire phone).
The Nokia N95 is available from Amazon.
Nokia’s 3310 Evolve
Nokia recently introduced the 3310 Evolve phone, which is obviously designed to be green. The Evolve phone has “unpainted bio-sourced covers made from more then 50% more renewable material”. I assume “bio-sourced covers” means they are made with bioplastic — an important innovation I’ve waiting to see on cell phones. The 3310 Evolve also comes with minimalist packaging that features 60% recycled content.
The Evolve has perhaps the most efficient charger of all the phones listed here — it comes with Nokia’s new AC-8 charger that uses 94% less energy than the Energy Star requirements. The charger uses very little power when its plugged in but not charging.
The phone’s feature set is midrange — it offers a 1.3-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, an FM radio, a digital music player, a 262,000-color display, infrared, a mini USB port, and a microSD card slot. The 3110 is triband at the moment (GSM 900/1800/1900) so it’s primed for European networks, but you should be able to get it in North America unlocked.
This phone is currently only available in Europe.
Home Page: Nokia’s 3310 Evolve
Sony Ericsson P1i
The Sony Ericsson P1i is a smart phone that gets its green credentials mainly from the reduced amount of hazard materials inside — the P1i is free of PVC, beryllium and phthalates, and it has a main circuit board that’s free of brominated flame retardants.
It’s available from Amazon.
LG Electronics KE970
A stylish phone, LG Electronic’s KE970 scored green points due to a circuit board that’s free of brominated flame retardants, and a low number of RoHS exceptions. The phone features a polished-metal exterior and stainless steel case.
It’s still not free of antimony, beryllium or phthalates though, and the phone’s charger only exceeds Energy Star requirements by 7%.
LGE KE970 is available from Amazon.