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Samsung unveiled a new “environmentally friendly” phone at the Mobile World Congress technology event in Barcelona this past February, although today is the first I have heard of it. Surprisingly, information directly from the company is hard to come by – it only seems to be listed on Samsung’s UK site – and is nowhere to be found on the US website. This seems a bit odd – regardless of whether or not the phone will be available in the US anytime soon (seems not – it’s only scheduled for release in the UK during the second half of 2009), it seems like it would be a smart idea to promote their environmental programs/products – green sells, after all. Suspicious…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t48ae9EkF1c[/youtube]

There are a series of YouTube videos that highlight some of the phones innovative “environmentally friendly” features (see above). Notably, the phone and the charger are said to be free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardants, Beryllium and Phthalate. The “eco-packaging” is about 40% lighter and smaller than most cell phones. The casing is made from PA11 – “extracted from beans” (?) and PCM – plastic extracted from recycled water bottles. It has a touchscreen, which is fun. It is designed to look like a pebble, of sorts…but it doesn’t much look like a pebble.

As far as power saving – it has solar panels on the back, so you can recharge it in the sun. The actual plug in charger has energy efficiency of over 75% – apparently – so it charges quickly, which is a plus. There are some innovative software features – like an “eco walk” app/built-in pedometer to tell you how much CO2 emission you’ve saved by walking instead of driving. Seems promising – but I haven’t seen any actual/relevant information that would make this a viable alternative (memory space/bandwidth/network capabilities etc…). I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I also haven’t found any actual critique of the specifics of the materials used in the phone – i.e. just how much of this is hype and how much is actual innovation in terms of the true environmental impact of the phone. I remain hopeful but skeptical.

Samsung’s “Blue Earth Dream.”

Apparently Motorola also has a phone made from this same PCM plastic – the MOTO W233 renew which they claim is “the first certified Carbonfree cell phone on the market. Through an alliance with Carbonfund.org, Motorola offsets the amount of energy required to manufacture, distribute and operate the phone.” The reviews of this phone aren’t so hot – seems cheap and flimsy. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBJKUDx56aE[/youtube]

I have to say – I am surprised (actually – I’m not surprised at all – it’s just too bad) that there hasn’t been more demand for less damaging cell phone technology. It’s a pretty bad offender – you can read more about the impact on the environment on these websites:

Greenpeace: Cutting Edge Contamination – A Study of Environmental Pollution during the manufacture of Electronic Products (2007)
The Secret Life Series: Environmental Impacts of Cell Phones
High Tech Trash: The First Global Investigation of Technology’s Toxic Underside
Wirefly Cell Phones in Landfills: The Environmental Damage
The Age: Out of Africa: the blood tantalum in your mobile phone

While we’re on the topic – have a look at some actual green gadgets – the winners from this years Greener Gadgets competition are pretty interesting. I’m intrigued, especially, by the Bware water meter. The RITI Printer which uses coffee and tea dregs for ink, and the first place winner, theTweet-a-Watt, which tweets your daily KWH consumption.
Check out all the finalists here at Core77’s blog.

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