How the Smartphone Became a Part in Green Lifestyles

By Korbinian Sinzinger|Tuesday May 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|

Sustainability activists have emphasized the need for lifestyle changes in many ways. However, the link between smartphones and green living has been often overlooked. How much of a carbon footprint is your smartphone leaving and how can you ensure it is used to promote greener living?

There was a time not so long ago when the smartphone was a relatively new thing and the sole province of business moguls. Because it was interesting technology, it also became the domain of tech enthusiasts and wannabes posing as tech business moguls.

These proto-smartphones used different tech to achieve only a fraction of what can be done on today’s hardware. First generation smartphones were considered to have very large screens. By today’s standards, those screens would be unusably small. The inaugural apps were simplistic, the selection was limited, and the prices were high.

It wasn’t just the tech, or the vision of what the tech was for. The companies pushing these devices were also different. There was no Apple, Google, HTC, or OPPO. Ruling the roost were companies like RIM, Palm, Nokia, and Microsoft. Today, these companies no longer exist, exist in name only, or have no place in the smartphone market. That is a major shift in just a few years.

Here are some of the winds of change that brought us to where we are today:

For the Rest of Us

There is no denying Apple’s place in the smartphone revolution. Had there been no Apple, you as a consumer would likely not have a smartphone. Apple took it from a niche product for a niche audience and made smartphones for the rest of us. The original iPhones was one of the first purely consumer-focused smartphones.

You can tell how consumer the smartphone has come by casually noticing the cases people put on them. The cases for iPhone 8 you can see everywhere from your morning commute to the daycare where you pick up your kids are decorative, whimsical, and designed for tickling the consumer’s fancy. You can also find protective and rugged cases as well. Even these are largely for consumers rather than construction workers.

When Google partnered with Motorola to present their version of the modern smartphone, they catered to male tech enthusiasts. Motorola is no longer a going concern in this industry.

What Apple did differently was to offer a product that would appeal to a broader cross-section of people. Mainstream adoption quickly followed. And those companies that specialized in the more niche markets had a limited future in the new smartphone market that was to come.

A Smartphone for Every Budget

Apple deserves credit for starting the modern smartphone revolution. But what they get no credit for is making smartphones a commodity product that everyone could afford. Apple made the phone everyone wanted. Google made the phone everyone could afford.

The Android vs. iPhone wars are only fought by a relatively small number of enthusiasts. Most people would likely have a hard time providing one substantive difference between the two. Once the smartphone prices fell low enough to be zero replacement cost of a feature phone, the war was over. The majority were no longer choosing based on platform. They were choosing based on what they could afford.

From $0 to the lower middle of the spectrum, it is almost entirely Android. It is not because people are choosing Android over iOS. It is because that is what is in that price range. And there are so many good choices there, no one really has to care about competing platforms. That end of the market was never going to be served by Apple alone. Once smartphones were commoditized, it opened a whole new world of possibilities for a whole lot more people.

There’s an App for That

Smartphones had apps and app repositories long before the iPhone came along. It is easy to forget that the iPhone didn’t even launch with an App Store. All apps for the iPhone were web apps. And many of them were fantastic.

But the App Store managed to change everything anyway. People don’t have to buy smartphones for what they can do out of the box. People treat them as pocket computers that take on whatever utility they need at the time. A person never has to pay for an app to get a nearly infinite variety of uses from their device. When Sesame Street characters feature a song like, “There’s an App for That”, you know the world has changed.

So if you find yourself wondering how the smartphone became such an indispensable part of your life, it can be summarized in the following way: Apple made it consumer friendly, Google made it budget friendly. And countless developers made it infinitely useful.


Smartphones are helping with green living in many ways. They are also leaving a higher carbon footprint than previous devices, which means that they are a double-edged sword for people that want to live a green life. Anyone that is concerned about sustainability should understand these nuances.

This article appeared first on April 27th 2018 on