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Different Shades of Green: Three Eco-Friendly Smartphones

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Technology and eco-friendliness don’t really sound like a match made in heaven.

Indeed, those two words are more at odds with each other, the other gaining as the other loses. The environment suffering as man moves forward with his innovations and factories and progress or the other way around, the most extreme environmentalist advocating a return to the pre-industrial age way of life.

Extremes eh?

What if I tell you that there is a middle way between the two? That you can enjoy the latest technology has to offer and still be eco-friendly? Well…you can. These days, manufacturers are also making environmental phones that not only cater to the flower-power people due to their bad design and hopelessly outdated hardware, but also to the more mainstream spec-addicted users.

Here are three smartphones that managed to prove themselves as not only eco-friendly but also possessing respectable specs that will cater to techies and hippies alike.

1. Samsung Galaxy S4

Surprise, surprise? Well, apparently, 2013’s bestselling smartphone is eco-friendly. Not in the sense of being made from recycled plastic bottles like previous Samsung phones or having a solar panel on its back cover. The Galaxy S4 is eco-friendly due to two factors: its packaging and certifications.

The first part is easy enough to see. The Galaxy S4 comes with box that is made out of recycled paper. The manuals and other documentation inside are also recycled paper and the ink used is soy ink, an alternative to the destructive petroleum-based inks.

The next part, certifications, is more complex. Independent organizations like the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) test smartphones and gadgets to see if they sustainable and safe for usage. This year, UL gave the Galaxy S4 a Platinum certification, the highest on its roster of certifications. That is quite an achievement because UL is known to be rather strict when it comes to their ratings.

Another sustainability organization, the TCO Development Foundation, listed the Galaxy S4 as eco-friendly. This move is significant because the Galaxy S4 was the first smartphone to be given such certification by the TCO.

2. iPhone 5

With some of its suppliers in China responsible for the ongoing environmental catastrophe, worker suicides and generally crappy worker protection, Apple’s products are usually far behind everyone’s mind when it comes to eco-friendly gadgets talk.

However, in a study conducted by HealthyStuff.org and iFixit.com, two iPhones, the 4s and the 5 managed to emerge as the second and fifth most eco-friendly phones in the United States.

In a scale of 1-5 wherein 1 is the highest, the iPhone 5 got 2.75, ahead of the Galaxy S3 at 2.99 and the Motorola Droid X which is at 3.59. Apparently, the use of less harmful and hazardous chemicals has put the iPhone ahead of other flagships.

The survey tested the usage of harmful chemicals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and biphenyls on smartphones.

3. Sony Xperia P

If you had never heard of this phone ‘til now, don’t feel bad, we’re on the same boat.

This Xperia device, released by Sony in 2012 is relatively obscure and was quickly drowned by the massive numbers of mid-rangers from other manufacturers. This 4-inch screened smartphones doesn’t have prayer of standing up to the likes of the iPhone 5 or the beastly Galaxy S4…specs-wise.

In eco-friendliness, though, it has no equal.

The Sony Xperia P has been lauded by the European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) as the “European Green Smartphone of 2013-13.” EISA praised the Xperia P’s power efficiency and the use of eco-friendly materials on its manufacture. It was also mentioned that compared to other smartphones, the Xperia P has a low copper content and makes efficient use of precious metals on its body.

Sony also bagged EISA’s award last 2012 with the Xperia Mini.

Even Greener Way

While the smartphones above might be green in a sense, the best way to actually be green and have this phones at the same time is to recycle your old gadgets. You can always opt to have your old smartphone recycled by bringing it to any of the numerous take back centers all over the United States or sell it to certified recyclers like eCycle Best.

If you choose the take-back centers, the most you can get from them is a “Thank You” for your old gadgets whereas if you sell them, you’ll get cash that you can use to buy the eco-friendly device of your choice. Also, you will actually have a proper and modern smartphone with no functionality sacrificed for it to become green. A smartphone that is eco-friendly and top of the line.

Eco-friendly and top of the line. Yes, you can have the best of both worlds. The best of the green and tech world :)

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