What if iPhones aren’t as bad as we thought?

You may have noticed in the past couple of years that as the excitement levels have subsided and the gloss of the illustrious iPhone has started to dull, that consumer negativity has kicked in to the point where Apple has been copping a fair bit of flack over things like its alleged exploitation of teenage workers and the crippling screen addiction of iPhone users.

But, according to a new theory by MIT economist Andrew McAfee, the iPhone may have also done the world a big favour.

In what is looking like an encouraging trend, in the last several years, fewer plastics and natural resources have been used for manufacturing, and energy consumption in the western world has remained flat – and he believes that iPhones just may be responsible.


Cast your mind back to the pre smart phone days.

On the surface, iPhones may seem like an environmental nightmare.

Some 2 billion iPhones have been sold since 2007, and they all require resources such as cobalt, metal and plastic, and they say that the digital economy facilitated by iPhones accounts for an estimated 10% of the world’s electricity consumption.

But, this new research suggests much more of the world’s resources would have been used if we were still living in the pre-digital era. Think about all the different appliances and gizmos that the world once bought — cameras, calculators, music players, watches, etc, which are now all readily available on a smartphone.   

People are still taking pictures and videos and playing music. They are just doing it in a way that doesn’t require as many resources to be used on extra items.


A second enlightenment

McAfee believes Apple’s iPhone, along with other technologies, are leading us toward a healthier relationship with the world. One in which he describes as a second enlightenment — a physical one this time, rather than an intellectual one.    

And if all this isn’t convincing enough, he has a tip for environmentally conscious smartphone users.

Just wait a little longer to buy a new iPhone. It turns out that the production process for each new phone requires as much energy as it does to use a current iPhone for… wait for it… 10 years!!

Hmmm… I can’t quite see my iPhone lasting the better part of a decade, but at least I feel a bit better about using it now.



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