iPhone SE 2022 Environmental Report Review

Over the years, Apple has released in total 33 iPhones and we’ve recognised the iPhone SE models as the most environmentally friendly of the bunch. Recent Apple event has brought another iPhone into the Apple smartphone family - third generation iPhone SE and we’re curious how its green credentials compare to its predecessors and iPhone 13 flagship series. We’ve reviewed the iPhone SE 2022 environmental report that’s now available on Apple’s website and there are a few improvements to highlight.

iPhone SE 2022 Green Credentials: Overall Improvements

It’s been only two years since the launch of the second generation iPhone SE, but it’s a significant amount of time to be able to make progress on making the SE more planet friendly.

  • The transition of Apple’s supply chain to use 100% renewable energy is making an impact and the lifetime carbon emissions of the iPhone SE 2022 are 16% less than those of the 2021 model.
  • Using 64% less energy than the standard requirement, the iPhone SE 2022 is more energy efficient than the iPhone 13 series and previous iPhone SE generations.
  • Increased use of fiber-based materials in packaging, and the removal of outer plastic wrap.
  • In addition to the Taptic Engine, audio magnets inside the iPhone SE 2022 are now also made from 100% recycled tungsten.

The use of recycled plastics remained similar and accounts for 35% (or more) of plastics inside the phone. Apple introduced the use of recycled gold with the iPhone 13 series, and we were expecting the new iPhone SE to follow suit and use recycled gold in the plating of the main logic board, but not this time. Nevertheless, the above changes are encouraging and are paving the way to one day having a carbon neutral iPhone.

The Environmental Impact of the iPhone SE (2022)

With every new iPhone release, like clockwork Apple publish an environmental report of the newly released iPhone models, and the iPhone SE 2020 report is no exemption. The report details iPhone SE’s lifecycle carbon emissions, so how better (or worse) is its environmental impact compared to its predecessor?

We’re seeing a significant decrease in lifetime emissions across all storage capacities the iPhone SE 2022 comes with. Comparing entry 64GB models, the new iPhone SE generates 11kg of CO2-e less and takes the title of the iPhone with the lowest carbon footprint to date.

iPhone SE (2016)iPhone SE (2020)iPhone SE (2022)Percentage change
in CO2 emissions
32GB54kg CO2-e--n/a
64GB-57kg CO2-e46kg CO2-e↓ 19.3%
128GB60kg CO2-e62kg CO2-e50kg CO2-e↓ 19.35%
256GB-73kg CO2-e58kg CO2-e↓ 20.55%

The iPhone SE 2022 is equipped with Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chipset which is the main reason for higher efficiency while in use which in return helps to reduce carbon emissions. Due to internals of the iPhone SE 2022 and the display being less power-hungry, unlike the iPhone 13 series, efficiency rates of the iPhone SE 2022 are boosted even further. For example, the carbon footprint of the high-end iPhone 13 Pro Max that we’ve reviewed earlier tops at 117kg of CO2-e. That’s twice as much as the 256GB model iPhone SE 2022 generates.

In our iPhone carbon emissions ranking table, the new SE takes the top position having the lowest lifetime emissions, outperforming its predecessors and the entire iPhone product lineup. Taking into account regular and long-lasting software support, if kept in use for at least 4 years, the iPhone SE 2022 lifetime carbon footprint per year would amount to only 11.5KG CO2-e.

Is iPhone SE 2022 a Sustainable Choice?

When comparing the iPhone SE 2022 to the latest flagship iPhone 13 series, the answer is obvious, it is the most sustainable iPhone to date. However, it comes with a few compromises such as less modern design with bigger bezels, smaller battery cell and less premium display. All of this results not only in the lowest lifetime CO2 emissions, but also a cheaper price tag. If hardware specifications dictate your choice for an upgrade, the new SE isn’t that attractive. But if one of the primary variables is the lifetime emissions of an iPhone, the latest iPhone SE beats all other iPhones hands down. No matter which iPhone you’re eyeing next, it’s crucial to recycle your old phone and definitely check if the phone you want is available refurbished, this way you can make your upgrade kinder to the environment.


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