Together with HealthyStuff.org, our friends over at iFixit have just completed a chemical analysis of 36 smartphones, including the iPhone 5 and previous generations of the device. Each device was ranked from 0-5 (with 0 being best) based on a number of common hazardous materials including lead, bromine, and mercury. In the image above we see a breakdown of which components of the iPhone 5 have the highest concentration of those chemicals. The findings show Apple is making good in its commitment to greatly reduce harmful chemicals in its products, with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 ranking significantly better than previous generations. For instance, the iPhone 2G lands itself at the bottom of the list with a “high concern”, not far from Nokia’s N95.
The iPhone 4S was able to outrank the iPhone 5, indicating Apple wasn’t able to significantly reduce hazardous chemicals in the new device. However, all iPhone models were behind the Motorola Citrus, a device Motorola specifically markets as a eco friendly option. While iPhone 4S came in second behind Citrus, the inexpensive LG Remarq and Samsung Captivate were able to beat out the iPhone 5. When it comes to Apples’ biggest competitors, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III and higher end devices from HTC, iPhone 4/4S/5 all outrank the competition.
As noted by iFixit, each year only about 8 percent of the 130 million discarded cellphones make it to proper recycling facilities. With Apple likely to build a 100 million new iPhones in the year to come, Apple’s commitment to make the “most environmentally responsible products in our industry” is certainly an important one.
iFixit explained the method used to rank the phones:
So, to learn more about chemicals in phones on the market today, HealthyStuff.org researchers took apart 36 phones and submitted their components to X-ray fluorescence spectrometry—a process that determines the chemical composition of a material. The researchers then rated and ranked the phones on a scale of 0 – 5, lowest being best, in three ways: by chemical (for each of 12 commonly found hazardous chemicals, such as bromine, mercury, and lead), by component (case, screen, solder, circuit board, etc.), and overall.