The New iPhone 15 Hits The Market: A Call for Sustainable Tech Choices

by Arthur Watine, on Sep 22, 2023

Apple recently unveiled its highly anticipated iPhone 15 series, an event followed and commented on each year by millions of tech enthusiasts. Being historically an Android user, this marked the first time in my career that I found myself in the ranks of the Apple followers, experiencing a blend of curiosity, amusement, and, to be honest, a significant concern as I witnessed the mass production of yet another new device. However, before we reflect on sustainability considerations, and reiterate the importance of combating e-waste, let’s dive into the new features of the iPhone 15.

Photo of the new iPhone 15 series

The iPhone 15 Series: a closer look

It's been weeks since I've been daily reading my X (formerly Twitter) threads, with tech experts debating how this new iPhone 15 Series represents the most significant upgrade since the introduction of 5G to every new device. Why?

  • A new design (albeit, debatable)
  • The dynamic island (a design for the front camera and Face ID hardware launched with the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, which replaces the traditional notch with a pill-shaped cut-out for the front camera and a smaller hole-shaped cut-out for the Face ID sensors)
  • Thinner bezels
  • A more robust processor for (A16 bionic chip for the 15 and 15 Plus, A17 for the Pro models)
  • New materials (as planned, the titanium from Apple Watches is now introduced to the 15’s Pro models)
  • A USB-C port (finally - we can thank the European Commission!)
  • An improved battery life
  • A better camera
  • A new customisable action button on the Pro models (similar to the Apple Watch).

But, the feature I personally appreciate the most is somewhat invisible: The inside of the iPhones 15 Pro has been designed to be easily reparable.

iPhone 15 iPhone 15 Plus iPhone 15 Pro iPhone 15 Pro Max
Display 6.1″ Super Retina XDR display 6.7″ Super Retina XDR display 6.1″ Super Retina XDR display ProMotion technology Always-On display 6.7″ Super Retina XDR display ProMotion technology Always-On display
Material Aluminium with colour-infused glass back Ring/Silent switch Aluminium with colour-infused glass back Ring/Silent switch Titanium with textured matte glass back Action button Titanium with textured matte glass back Action button
Processor A16 Bionic chip A16 Bionic chip A17 Pro chip A17 Pro chip
Camera Advanced dual-camera system 48MP Main Ultra Wide Advanced dual-camera system 48MP Main Ultra Wide Advanced triple-camera system 48MP Main, 12 MP 3x Tele, 12 MP Ultra Wide Advanced triple-camera system 48MP Main, 12 MP 5x Tele, 12 MP Ultra Wide
Battery Up to 20 hours video playback Up to 26 hours video playback Up to 23 hours video playback Up to 29 hours video playback

The new iPhone 15 Pro

The new iPhone 15 Pro

Why Consider Older Refurbished Models

While I understand that the iPhone 15 series introduces exciting innovations, and that for some Apple fans, staying up-to-date with the latest iPhone is of utmost importance, it's essential to remember that our planet cannot sustain introducing newer models every year. Hundreds of millions of these iPhone 15s are going to spread around the globe, while not-so-old models like the iPhone 13 and 14 are still highly powerful devices (even the three year-old iPhone 12, is still a remarkable device and is more than 50% cheaper than the iPhone 15). Yes, purchasing a refurbished model can be both an eco-conscious choice, and a fantastic treat. But if the iPhone 15 is indeed your desired choice, my suggestion would be to consider waiting for one or two months until it becomes available on refurbed.

Here's a quick look at the noteworthy features of these models:

  • A refurbished iPhone 13: The iPhone 13 offers a vibrant state-of-the-art display, an A15 Bionic chip for reliable performance, and impressive camera capabilities, making it a great choice for everyday users.
  • A refurbished iPhone 13 Mini: Although it ranked among the most beloved iPhones in the line-up, Apple chose to discontinue it. However, the iPhone 13 Mini embodies all our desires: boasting the same remarkable attributes as the iPhone 13 but wrapped in a compact and convenient design.
  • A refurbished iPhone 14: The iPhone 14, with the improved A15 Bionic chip (5-core GPU) continues to deliver fast performance, an advanced dual camera system, and a sleek design. It's a reliable choice for those seeking a balance between high performance and affordability.

Photo of the iPhone 14 Pro: it looks familiar doesn’t it? - Photo by James A. Molnar on Unsplash

Photo of the iPhone 14 Pro: it looks familiar doesn’t it? - Photo by James A. Molnar on Unsplash

The Fight Against E-Waste

The release of the iPhone 15 series underscores once again the ongoing issue of electronic waste (e-waste). Electronic devices like smartphones contribute significantly to this problem. The WEEE Forum (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum) assessed that in 2022, of the 16 billion (yes billion) smartphones possessed worldwide, 5.3 billion (still billion) became e-waste and added to their article at https://weee-forum.org/ws_news/of-16-billion-mobile-phones-possessed-worldwide-5-3-billion-will-become-waste-in-2022/ this striking depiction: “Stacked flat atop one another at an average depth of 9mm, disused phones would rise roughly 50,000km – 120 times higher than the International Space Station; one-eighth of the way to the moon.”

By choosing refurbished older models and responsibly extending the lifespan of our old devices via responsibly recycling them when upgrading to newer models, we contribute to the reduction of e-waste and the mitigation of the environmental footprint associated with tech consumption.

In conclusion, yes, the iPhone 15 series launched is indeed a tech gem, and we will gladly give them some visibility on refurbed when the first refurbished items will land on the secondary market, but it's becoming crucial to consider more sustainable options when making a purchasing decision. Older refurbished models like the iPhone 13 and 14 can still provide excellent performance while helping to fight against the growing problem of e-waste. By choosing wisely, we can enjoy the best of both worlds: cutting-edge technology and a cleaner, greener planet.


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