How to be eco-friendly when buying your next phone


February 12, 2021

Written By

Getting your hands on great tech shouldn’t cost the earth. Yet when it comes to smartphones, the dozens of precious minerals and metals that go into making them come with a huge environmental impact.

So what’s the secret to being more eco-friendly when it comes to buying a phone, and is an eco-friendly phone even a thing? Read our guide to find out.


Eco-friendly considerations when buying a phone

Let’s start with the basics. Is there such a thing as an eco-friendly phone? Well, apart from Fairphone, there aren’t many phones out there that market themselves as ‘sustainable’. 

Even the most sustainably-marketed phone has its downfall, though. In a study by Ethical Consumer, Fairphone was ranked at the bottom of the toxic chemicals management category for failing to share information about the use of toxic chemicals in production.

Interestingly, Apple came out on top. Not only are they carbon neutral, but they have pledged that all of their products will be by 2030, too. They’re also designing every product to be made from recycled materials (great news for iPhone lovers who want a more ethical mobile phone). 2030 is a long way off, though. So if you’re looking for an eco-friendly smartphone right now, here are our top things to consider.

Rethink that upgrade

It’s hard to resist an upgrade when tech brands are so quick to push the latest and greatest smartphones. And this means that, on average, perfectly good smartphones are being put aside after as little as 2.5 years of use to be replaced with shiny new models. But a phone’s lifespan can actually be 6 years or more if it’s refurbished – meaning there’s a massive amount of unused but perfectly usable phones out there (over 40 million in UK households alone).

Stats show that if we used all smartphones in the EU for as little as 1 year more than the 2.5 year average, we’d save 2.1 million tonnes of CO₂e per year by 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking over a million cars off the road.


Try refurbished 

So you want to replace your phone but you don’t want to buy brand new. What’s the best thing to do from an eco-friendly perspective? 

You could consider a refurbished phone. Far from a fancy name for a used phone, eco-friendly refurbished phones really are a thing. Hear us out while going for a used phone is all well and good, if it’s in poor condition with hidden faults, it’s not going to last very long.

That’s where refurbished comes in. A refurbished phone is professionally checked to ensure all of its features are in excellent working order, including the battery, buttons, speakers and camera. And the great thing about refurbished is that you can get an ‘as good as new’ smartphone without paying the brand new price (like our refurbished iPhone XR from £14.99 per month).

Refurbished phones also help to curb the appetite for brand new devices. That’s why we started Raylo Certified Refurbished, to give ‘used’ but perfectly usable phones a new lease of life by way of the circular economy. And by putting each of our refurbished phones through a 70 point check and giving you a 24 month warranty just in case, we’re making sure every refurbished phone lasts as long as possible.

Think about it this way – for every refurbished smartphone purchased, there will be one less brand new smartphone needing to be manufactured. And over time, this could have a phenomenal impact – which is why refurbished really is an eco-friendly phone choice.


Rethink the traditional contract

There’s an age-old way to buy a smartphone that we’re all used to sign up to a contract for a fixed amount of months and own your phone at the end of it. But what if we told you there’s a new way to use a smartphone that’s cheaper, greener and just plain easier?

We’re talking about a smartphone subscription. With a subscription, you’re not paying hiked prices to own the handset as you’re simply leasing it. Like the popular subscription models for TV (Netflix) and music (iTunes), you can enjoy all of the perks of the service without worrying about ownership.

Here at Raylo, we know that we can’t change the rate of production at which smartphones are being made, but we can change the way they’re used with our subscription model and have a direct impact on the environment while we do it. 

That’s why all of our new and refurbished smartphones are available on subscription, so we can make sure we give them another lease of life once our customers’ contracts are up. We do this by collecting them, refurbishing them and making sure they land in another pair of hands. That’s what a true eco-friendly phone is one that is reused until the very end of its life cycle.

If you’re not sure about a smartphone subscription, read our comparison of phone leasing, contracts and buying. By choosing a tech brand that really cares about smartphone sustainability like Raylo, you’re choosing the most eco-friendly phone option out there.