The Greenest Cell Phones of 2008

by Justin Thomas •

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.

Nokia N95

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.

Comments 21

  1. interesting blog, i really learnt a lot from you… i got to know a lot ways of eating healthy from your blog… I would appreciate if i could get a time table to healthy food i can eat to keep me healthy

  2. @Jennifer, props to you for your comment.
    (your post wasn’t live when I wrote mine)

    @Judie B and Tory, true true! The more of us realise what we are doing, the more chances we have of undoing the ‘wrongdoing’ before it’s really too late.

  3. Being green is not a fad, its what we need to be to keep the world going. It won’t go out of style like skinny jeans because if it does, there will be nothing left of the world for our children to enjoy.

  4. Since I’ve been around before we’ve become such dependents on eletronics this and eletrical thats, to make what we think is a way to make our life’s easier; it’s because of this that our planet is deteriorating. We have become a planet that keeps needing and wanting more and more of our planets dwindling resources; getting to the point of extinction. I remember being the first family in our neighborhood to have a television, and everyone came over to watch. So now we’re talking about being buried with our cell phones, or the like. When will it end? when we have no planet?

  5. Is there a cloud of delusion in the air?

    Sorry to get back on topic here, but can’t you tell that what these companies are doing is just green marketing? A song and dance! They’re pushing on the latest buzz button that’ll get consumers to pony up. Sure the idea of a less toxic less polluting phone is great, but let’s not kid ourselves: in the overall scheme of things, it’s a total joke that would barely make an ass’s hair of a difference, if any. It’s like the politicians telling us about “clean coal.” There is no such thing as clean coal. It’s a spin doctor’s term intended to keep you onboard. When’s the last time you spoke of less-watery water, non-burning fire or less-shitty shit?? Putting the word ‘clean’ in front of something toxic does not make it non-toxic

    Now if the big cell companies were honest about going green, they would make 101 changes in their product development, manufacturing, design and marketing plans. That would of course imply a major overhaul of their infrastructure, but hey guess what, that’s exactly what’s needed to lessen the destruction of our planet.

    And for those still wondering, innocently, if a colder south pole or hot temperatures 1000 years ago, are indications or proof that what’s happening today is normal, natural and can be maintained, please look at yourself in the mirror and say “It’s OK, I guess, that I don’t know what’s happening to this earth I live on, but before forming an opinion on an important subject, I will actually look at the science,” and then slap yourself – with both hands.

    The point is not to single out cell companies or any one polluting industry, it’s to realize that us humans are killing our planet, right now, at an accelerating rate. Endless production, consumption, waste is not possible on a finite planet. The Earth is a limited system. Let me repeat: The Earth is a limited system. There are two things that can ensure its survival: remove mankind and let the earth heal itself (over thousands of years), or find ecologically sound ways to satisfy our world of unlimited human needs, while taking into account the Earth every step of the way. It is possible. And yes it would entail some sacrifices. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if we don’t make radical changes, it will disappear, one day.

    The first step is to be aware.

  6. Being “Green” isn’t about being cool or following some sort of Fad. If you look back to the late 80’s, when cities started setting up recycling programs, till now… we’ve actually made leeps and bounds forward when it comes to conciousness about the enviroment. Though I am one who isn’t sure if the whole broohaha as to Global Warming is legit science or if it’s something we’ll be looking at in 50 years and chuckling about. Still being concious of our impact on the world is still something important. Frankly if we consider the toxins in the soils, and the plastic waste in the water, etc. being green and turning the trend before things get worse is so massivly important for the future of this planet.

  7. Having worked for various cellular carriers for the last 6 years, it’s hard to believe that a company that does not offer iPhones in the US would unlock the device for use on its network… especially when the iPhone doesn’t have a code you can just punch into the device like other phones. Don’t listen to “g1 accessories”. He obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  8. hello i love the Iphone want one bad so bad i have made a bow to be the greenest i can be so….im with T-mobile … and well thay have the G1 plus is that HTC make phone for wold wide so thay are ROHS but i can not find out if that use PVC and BFRS i have call t-mobile and HTC to find out and thay said thay had no idea!!!! no ide!!! i guess that means yes to PVC ??? or what?

  9. The tmobile G1 has been unlocked, this will allow you to use a SIM card from any network, in any country. Hey guys FYI, T-mobile will unlock any phone for you for free if you are in good standing with the company, so don’t shell out the cash to get that iphone unlocked just call T-mobile.

  10. How long can these phones realistically be used? I take it none of the batteries are standard sizes, which could make replacing them very difficult in, say 5 years.

    Also, USB charging capability is a very green feature, as it provides a standard and nearly ubiquitous connector. Continually collecting and discarding special wall-wart chargers because they don’t fit a new phone (or because the power connector isn’t available at work/school) creates untold tons of gadget-related waste.

    Could you please keep this aspects of portable electronics in mind for future reviews?


  11. John B, that is a great thought, except that we will ALL (human, animal, plant) be victim to the perils of climate change, not just those who buy the most water bottles and drive the farthest. Those who survive (if any do) will not be the ones who consumed the least, and therefore by your logic most ‘deserve’ to be around to tell the tale. The first victims will be (and already are) disproportionately the poor in developing nations; individuals with the least power to affect global policy change, and the lowest rates of consumption.

  12. FreePaidSurveys really has a point on that one but I’m still boating with those that are going to build greener cellphones.

  13. True, there have been periods of warming and cooling. But this is a unique situation. Perhaps we are in a warming period naturally, but man-made emissions (direct or indirect) like CO2 and methane are speeding up the process.

    Global warming is not an appropriate name for the phenomenon, it’s Climate Change.

    And even if man isn’t the cause of this climate trend, do you propose we continue polluting the air and water with dirty fuels like coal and oil? Or continue to clear cut trees so that eventually the air will not be breathable, animals will not have habitat, the earth will dry up, etc. Surely that’s enough reason to clean up our act.

    Plus, isn’t this post about reducing the amount of toxic chemicals in cellphones? How can you dispute that we need to improve electronic devices to eliminate the amount of toxins in the waste stream?

  14. Wasn’t the earth warmer 1000 years ago than it is now? I know I read that in the long history of the earth, it has been warm many times. Was that man’s fault too? Did the cave men contribute to global warming?

    Also I hear the south pole is getting colder. How is that possible? I thought it was “global” warming.

  15. Thanks for the green cellphone roundup.

    To the person (or maybe you’re a phone company, what kind of alias is “ATTCellPhones”?) who thinks green is just a fad, just like John B said, people who don’t change their lifestyles now will eventually suffer the consequences of climate change and be forced to dramatically alter their way of living.

  16. I may not deserve it; however, if the majority refuses to deal with reality then they deserve to suffer the consequences of global warming.

    The earth will remain and some humans will survive to spread on the story of The Lorax.

  17. I don’t think the reminders will go away… so people won’t stop thinking about it.

    But people like you who think it’s cool or uncool to be “green” will just move onto the next fad, like skinny jeans or boys dressed like girls

    1. Global warming is not a fad that’s on the way out. It’s a scientific condition of our planet that needs to be taken care of while we still have an earth to inhabit.

    2. I would add, in Australia we vote out our leaders if they take an anti-environment stance. So it’s here to stay. If only these companies can improve their recycling efforts and thus acheive a closed loop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *