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Finding the Greenest Mobile Phones

We've added newer rankings for mobile and smart phones, but left the original ones below for those looking to reuse an older unit.

Newer Models UL
Jul 2013 [17]
TCO
May 2013 [16]
Sprint
Jul 2012
O2
Sep 2012 [11]
More Green Info
Apple "Not participating" [4] [12]
Blackberry / RIM 9310 [12]
Fairphone [18]
HTC EVO - 5 models
One - 5 models
One S [12]
Kyocera / Sanyo Torqu
DuraPlus
Milano
not offered [12]
LG Rumor Reflex - 2 models
L340
Mach
Optimus - 5 models
Venice
Viper
Remarq [2a]
Rumor Reflex [2b]
Optimus Elite [2b]
Viper 4G LTE [2b]
Not offered [12]
Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE not offered [12]
Nokia Not offered [5] [6] [12] [15]
Samsung SPH - 9 models
Galaxy S4
Galaxy S4 Reclaim [2a]
Restore [2a]
Replenish [2a]
Galaxy Ace [12]
Sony Ericsson Not offered Xperia P,S,U,go [6] [12]
ZTE Flash
Force
Sequent
Vital
not offered

Older Models Good Guide
Feb 11 [13]
Greenpeace
PVC/BFR
Jan 10 [1]
Green Survey Jan 11 [14]
Telefónica O2
Eco Rating
Aug 10 [11]
CalFinder
Aug 2009 [3]
Daily Green>
Feb 2009 [9]
Greenpeace
Green Electronics
Dec 2008 [8]
About.com
undated [7]
Apple All models [1]
Blackberry/RIM
HTC
LG GD510 (6.16) [1,14]
Motorola A45 ECO [1] Moto Renew Moto W233 Renew Moto W233 Renew MOTORAZR V9
Nokia 5530, 6700, C3, C6, E5, E72, E73, N8, X3, X3-02 N8-00 (5.70) [14]
X3-02 (5.42) [14]
All models [1]
1800
6700
Evolve Xpress Music Phone 5630 Evolve 3310
Navigator 6210
Samsung GT-S7550(Blue Earth) (7.03) [14]
Reclaim GT-S7550 [1]
Blue M560[1]
GT-S8500 Reclaim
Blue Earth
Reclaim
Blue S7550
SGH-F268
Sony Ericsson Elm J10i (6.59) [14]
Aspen (M1i) (6.21) [14]
All models[1]
Elm
Xperia X10 mini, mini pro
Zylo
GreenHeart GreenHeart

Notes for both tables

[1] Greenpeace's assessment of PVCs/BFRs elimination (Jan 10)

[2a] US carrier Sprint has developed criteria for its "Sprint Device Eco-logo" and offers complementary features like more sustainable packaging and "Eco-friendly Accessories".

[2b] Sprints promotes these phones as having "Eco-friendly Attributes"(example), but does not attach its Eco-Logo.

[3] CalFinder (Aug 09), a site for solar contractors, offers a one-paragraph description of green features.

[4] Apple has a number of sustainability features for its iPhone and publishes life-cycle CO2e analysis.

[5] Nokia's approach: "There's no need to look for a device with a green sticker - all Nokia devices come with eco improvements."

[6] The Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics does not rank individual products, rather, it ranks consumer electronics companies according to policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change. Vertatique's tracking of Greenpeace's rankings over the years shows Nokia and Sony Ericsson to be consistent top performers.

[7] About.com's "Top 3 Green Cell Phones" is undated and offers no methodology underlying the choices.

[8] Greenpeace's Green Electronics Search (Dec 08) ranks mobile phones and smart phones/PDAs on 25 criteria, then boils them down to a 10-point scale. The above-listed phones scored from 5.2 to 5.5

[9] The Daily Green's "The Greenest Cell Phones" (Feb 09) offers no methodology, but the author does add an important warning about the e-waste implications of a gratuitous upgrade to green.

[10] The Environmental Working Group's cell phone electromagnetic radiation database lists of 10 "Best Phones"and 10 "Best PDAs/Smatphones". In addition to the phones listed above, EWG also includes Sanyo Katana II and Helio Pantech Ocean, and Wing HERA110 on its "best" lists.

[11] UK mobile services provider Telefónica O2's "Eco rating"of 4.0 or better out of 5.0 for the phones they sell from participating manufacturers. O2 publishes detailed rating methodology developed by Forum for the Future.

[12] IDC has ranked "10 key mobile device manufacturers" using "five criteria (packaging, materials, energy, end-of-life program, and overall sustainability efforts)." The top 5 are Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Apple, LG and Samsung. The bottom 5 are Motorola, Palm, Kyocera/Sanyo, RIM (Blackberry) and HTC. (Sep 2010)

[13] Good Guide rates 500+ models on a 10-point scale in Health, Environment, and Society. These units, which received 9.0 in the Environment category, also where among the tops overall.

[14] Greenpeace Survey rates products submitted by participating manufacturers on a 10-point scale. The hypothetical score of a "fictional product that combined the best features of all submitted products within each category" is 8.18 for mobile phones and 7.92 for smart phones. We report models scoring 5.0 or better; the score is shown in parenthesis.

[15] Nokia is the only mobile manufacturer to make the top 20 in Vestas' Corporate Renewable Energy Index [CREX] 2011, ranking #16 for RE as a percentage of energy consumption and #11 in total RE procurement.

[16] TCO appears not to have certified any more phones since the May 2013 certifications.

[17] Forty models are listed in UL Environment's Sustainable Product Database .

[18] Fairphone, first available in Europe in late 2013, will features conflict-free tin and tantalum and an e-waste program.

Going Deeper

Our experience with mobile/smart phones is typical of the challenges sorting through green ratings of electronics products and companies. The lack of good information is also hampered by the lack of mobile phone listings from the European ecolabels.

We are unaware of any volume buyer of mobile devices (business, government, or education) that significantly weights green criteria in its purchasing decisions. Please comment below if you know of green-oriented volume purchasers.

Take a look at who are the greenest telecom providers.

@ecologee told me in June 2010 that he has been using his Samsung Crest E1107, an inexpensive solar-powered GSM phone, for a couple of weeks now without plugging into the grid. His objective is to get through the summer without doing so. Getting through the short days of the German winter will be more of a challenge, as the phone is limited to 5-10 minutes of talk time for 1 hour of solar charging. The E1107 Crest, available in much of the world but not North America, offers a number of features, from a flashlight to an FM radio, that would make it attractive to those traveling off the beaten path . . . as long as they can find enough power for all those features.

For those looking for greener approaches to charging their existing units, blogger Kathryn Vercillo offers 10 solutions, ranging from solar to stored vampire power.

Update 2011.04.01
French company Wysips claims to have a solar film that can be used as a display on a mobile device to keep it charged longer. Engadget review.


Sources become dated as new models hit the market. We're always looking for new sources, please comment below if you know of any.