When Apple’s chief marketing maven, Phil Schiller, said the new line of iPhones were designed to be “environmentally friendly,” my interest was piqued (I’m the guy behind the iFixit teardowns). Because there is no such thing as an environmentally friendly phone — especially one without an easily replaceable battery. It’s irresponsible to suggest otherwise.
Last night, we pulled apart both the iPhone 5s and 5c to see just how truthful Apple is being. How green are Apple’s new iPhones, really?
They’re not the least repairable phones Apple has put out … but they’re not really environmentally friendly, either. And the iPhone 5c is not as recyclable. When it comes to being green, both of these qualities really matter.
It’s simple: the easier phones are to repair, the longer they last, and the more people will be able to use it before it meets its final end. Lengthening product lifetime is the most tangible, direct way to combat the environmental impact of both raw materials mining and e-waste.
The two components most likely to break are the battery and the display assembly. So it was good news when the iPhone 5 hit a high note in terms of repairability last year: For the first time ever, a user could swap out components as long as they had a pentalobe driver for Apple’s proprietary screw (a big ‘if’ there, by the way).
So the new iPhones aren’t the least repairable phones we’ve ever seen (that dubious designation goes to the HTC One). Both boast easy-to-replace display assemblies: If you shatter your screen, and the parts are available, it will be reasonably inexpensive to have repaired (and is even pretty straightforward to DIY). That’s important.