Compare and Recycle
20/09/2022

iPhone 14 Environmental Reports Reviewed

Apple has officially introduced the iPhone 14 lineup which this time consists of the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. While the non-Pro models didn't go far from the iPhone 13, the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max got the lion's share of upgrades including the new design, the latest chipset and camera upgrades. Like clockwork Apple has released a set of environmental reports across the entire range of new iPhones which we reviewed. Read on to find out how the iPhone 14 series footprint fairs with previous generations of iPhone.

Yet Another Carbon Footprint Record

Despite rumours of Apple increasing the lineup's internal storage capacities, the iPhone 14 range still tops at 1TB of storage. Last year, the iPhone 13 Pro Max 1TB was the iPhone with the largest carbon footprint at 117kg of CO2-e. Expectedly, the title now got transfered to the iPhone 14 Pro Max 1TB with 124kg of CO2-e.

An attention worthy difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 lineups is the reduction in CO2 generated by production of the phones. Since the release of the iPhone SE (2020) more than 80% of carbon footprint of iPhones was created manufacturing the phones. With the iPhone 14 series, the percentage dropped to 79% on average and the reason being might be Apple's aim to use more recycled metals in the build of its iPhones.

There's a slight growth in carbon emissions caused by transportation. Where distributing iPhone 12 series on average created 2% of total carbon emissions, Apple reports that now 3% of the total iPhone 14 range carbon footprint is associated with transportation. Given the fact that Apple has removed the charging adapter from in-box accessories to reduce packaging and hence ship more iPhones at once, this CO2 increase is concerning.

iPhone 14 environmental reports point out at increase in emissions caused by the use of iPhones. Apple reports that using an iPhone 14 will amount to 18% of total CO2, whereas iPhone 13's figure was at 16%. Given the fact that the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13 share the same A15 Bionic chipset, the numbers should at least be the same. Similar increase in emissions is observed among iPhone 14 Pro models which to 16% on average (compared to average 14 % among iPhone 13 Pro models). This means using the iPhone 14 Pro Max 1TB results in 21.08kg of CO2-e, whereas for the iPhone 13 Pro Max 1TB it was 17.55kg. We can only guess what the culprit for this increase could be, perhaps Pro Motion displays and MagSafe charging technology has some connection with this.

Fourteen iPhone 14 Models

Taking into account all the different internal storage capacities, Apple has released fourteen iPhone 14 models with iPhone 14 128GB having the lowest carbon footprint of 61kg of CO2-e and the iPhone 14 Pro Max 1TB having the highest lifetime CO2 of 124kg.

Every year Apple reassesses environmental impact of their iPhone products, and with the release of iPhone 14 reports, lifetime carbon emissions of the iPhone 13 lineup have been updated. This makes certain iPhone 14 models more environmentally friendly than their predecessors, however the models with the largest capacities have had their CO2 rise.

The Biggest Change Apple Didn't Report

We've been toothpicking iPhone 14 environmental reports to find any information on improved repairability of the new lineup as with Apple's announcement of Self Service Repair earlier this year we naturally expected some sort of improvement towards repairability of iPhones. But to our disappointment Apple's reports had no such information.

Apple did not mention at the launch event and no one knew that the builds of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus were redesigned until iFixit done their teardowns. The dissassembly of non-Pro iPhone models revealed that the back panel on both models is being held by two screws rather than the stongest adhesive there probably is that only a special laser could remove and you can individually remove the display and the back panel from the main frame making it easier and cheaper to repair. What sounds like a simple change not to use the glue to hold three parts of an iPhone together, is actually an engineering challenge as there is more things to consider like wiring, repositioning of other internal components, waterproofing and durability. Apple has done a lot of work and put great effort to make this possible with iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus. The 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are using the old architecture which makes it impossible to perform a repair on back glass unless you want to pay over £500 for it.

Source: Apple.com

So from repairability point of view, iPhone 14 and 14 Plus are ahead of Pro models this year eventhough Apple didn't bother mentioning such a significant environmental change anywhere.

Expanding the Use of 100% Recycled Gold

Apple is already reusing some metals to build their iPhones: 99% of rare earth elements used in iPhones is 100% recycled, 100% recycled tungsten in Taptic Engines, 100% recycled tin in printed curcuit boards and main logic board. With the iPhone 13 series last year Apple used 100% recycled gold for the first time in the plating of the main logic boards. This year Apple has added more reused gold which is now in the wire of all cameras and in the plating of multiple circuit boards, not just logic board and iPhone 14 and 14 Plus use upcycled water bottles in their antenna lines.

Image: Apple

We strongly believe that with Apple's resources and commitment achieving carbon neutrality for their products by 2030 is realistic. The deadline for this goal is now 8 years away and we're seeing Apple chipping away at virgin metals, but we're also seeing concerning increases in carbon generation when using iPhones, especially high capacity premium models which have set yet another lifetime carbon footprint record. It's time to set green records Apple, tic toc.

Sources:

Antonia

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