How often do you upgrade your tablet or smartphone? What about the sustainability impact?

Upgrading your smartphone or tablet to the latest device model is tempting; they’re typically cheaper than a computer and new features are constantly competing for our attention. Current figures show that users are switching up their mobile devices at record rates.

But what about the sustainability risks of this rapid-upgrade trend?

Consider these alarming facts:

  • The number of smartphones shipped per year is set to almost double over the next five years (Green Tablet and Handset Report, 2012, Juniper Research).
  • In the UK, the average smartphone lifetime is around 29 months. In the US, that figure is only about 18 months!
  • The recycling rate for mobile products is the lowest of all major electronics categories, as people either store or simply throw away their used devices  (Source US EPA)

From a sustainability perspective, shorter product cycles and a growing amount of discarded devices make a sustainable, responsible choice more difficult.

Time between new product rollouts is shrinking

Feeding the upgrade tren