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re build an iPhone 4

Hello everybody,

I'm studying sustainable design in London and conducting research I thought: why big company do not use more sustainable material to make something that lasts for a couple of years?

So here is my project, basically, I want to make some component (essentially the back) of an old iPhone 4 whit some more sustainable material. The "new phone" will give me the opportunity to start a conversation on the wrong choice of materials by companies.

I'm here to ask to advise, tips and help if it sound interesting to you.

Bye-bye have a nice day

Answer this question I have this problem too

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Hi there Riccardo and thanks for posting on this forum. We’re excited that you’re studying sustainable design and focusing in the field of consumer electronics. Although your question may seem simple, it’s a pretty heavy-loaded one at that and I’ll do my best to answer it. As with most companies and corporations, cutting costs in production and increasing profits are the main goals. One method practiced by many companies to alleviate this problem is known as planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is the practice of designing a product that is planned to be obsolete (or not of use) within a short period of time after its initial release. As you’ve probably seen in the real world, companies like Apple take advantage of this method and release products in short cycles to make the consumer feel as though they are behind and out-of-touch, even though they really aren’t. As a result, many companies feel content with their current business models and aren’t looking to change anytime soon, especially if the changes affect their profits.

Another reality is that those sustainable materials may not be feasible for mass production of electronic devices. After a quick Google search, I see that the back of an iPhone 4 is made with aluminosilicate glass. I’m no materials engineer by any means so I do not know whether or not the production of aluminosilicate glass is environmentally sustainable compared to other materials. However, I do know that all electronics are made of rare rocks and minerals that cost numerous and large amounts of natural resources to harvest from the earth. Here at iFixit, we’ve recognized that most of companies aren’t willing to sacrifice profits to change their methods of production, which is why we’re pushing for the right to repair.

I hope this gives you more insight as to why companies don’t use more sustainable materials and how difficult it can be to change a production line using more sustainable materials. This shouldn’t detract you from replacing current technologies with more sustainable materials and methods, but just know that it isn’t an easy path to walk on. It’s up to devoted and passionate people like you to find better methods to create a more environmentally-friendly and conscious world.

If there’s anything else we can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck and happy fixing!

Justin Ogihara

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@jogihara outstanding answer!


@oldturkey03 I'd say a little bit research goes a long way. Thanks!!


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Riccardo Cenedella will be eternally grateful.
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