Quantcast

Why Apple Deliberately Slowing Down iPhones Is Harming the Environment

Popular

If you ever felt like your iPhone is getting slower over time, Apple has admitted that it deliberately slows down the processing speeds of phones with older batteries to stop them shutting down without warning.

The tech giant is ultimately doing a good thing—even if it's in a sneaky, backhanded way. Smartphone batteries certainly have a limited lifespan.


As the company explained Wednesday: "Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components."

But how many of us buy a completely new phone instead of simply replacing the battery? That's not to mention that Apple makes their phones very difficult to open and fix yourself.

As you may know, our gadgets have an enormous environmental footprint in the form of electronic waste, aka e-waste.

Greenpeace estimates that 7.1 billion smartphones have been manufactured since 2007, or enough for just about every person on the planet.

And yet companies like Apple churn out new devices every year, selling 78.2 million iPhones in the months following the release of the iPhone 7.

Our phones don't even stay with us that long, as the average age of a smartphone traded in between April 2017 and June 2017 was 2.58 years, according to data collected by HYLA Mobile, a device trade-in company.

You could always recycle your old phones but not many of us do.

"Only 20 percent [of e-waste] is going in the official collection and recycling schemes," Ruediger Kuehr, head of the UN University's Sustainable Cycles Programme, told Reuters.

Last year, the amount of electronic waste around the world grew to a record 45 million tons in 2016—equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Most discarded gadgets go into landfills or get sent overseas.

So before you consider an iPhone upgrade, here are some things to keep in mind (via Greenpeace):

  • More than 60 different elements are commonly used in the manufacturing of smartphones. While the amount of each element in a single device may seem small, the combined impacts of mining and processing these precious materials for 7 billion devices is significant.
  • In 2014 alone, e-waste from small IT products like smartphones was estimated to be 3 million metric tons.
  • Only two (Fairphone and LG G5) of 13 models reviewed had easily replaceable batteries. This means consumers are forced to replace their whole devices when the battery life starts to dwindle.
  • Since 2007, roughly 968 terawatt hours (TWh) has been used to manufacture smartphones, which is nearly the same as one year's power supply for India (973 TWh in 2014).
  • At end-of-life, current design makes disassembly difficult, including the use of proprietary screws and glued in batteries; therefore, smartphones are often shredded and sent for smelting when "recycled." Given the small amounts of a wide diversity of materials and substances in small devices, smelting is inefficient or ineffective at recovering many of the materials.

Apple has been recognized for its strong support of climate change action and its positive engagement with a number of climate change policy areas. However, its latest iPhone-kerfuffle certainly does not add to its environmentally friendly image.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

MStudioImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Backpacking is an exciting way to explore the wilderness or travel to foreign countries on a budget.

Read More Show Less
Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less