With the far-reaching and perhaps over-the-top hype that came with the launch of the new Apple iPhone5, it should be no surprise to anyone that the newest Apple smartphone will be analyzed from countless angles and points of view.
Within this hodge-podge of analysis is an interesting look at the presumptive energy use that an iPhone5 will require and more interestingly, how it compares with not only other smartphones, but also how it compares with other consumer electronic devices that smartphones are now tending to replace, and presents a unique Enviro News and Events insight worth sharing.
The analysis was conducted by Opower, a US based energy information software company that works with utility companies. It decided to actually determine, based on a number of established criteria, just what it would cost to power a new iPhone5 and through its analysis they discovered that the total annual cost would be a modest $0.41 per year.
Opower also decided to perform the same analysis of a Samsung Galaxy S III, which is perhaps the hottest of the Android based smartphones, and determined that it would have an annual energy cost of about $0.53 per year. A reason for this they determined was due to the larger battery of the Samsung smartphone when compared to the Apple iPhone5.
While these numbers seem miniscule, in order to fully understand their impact, there are other factors that need to be considered as well, such as the fact that business and tech analysts fully expect Apple to sell about 170 Million iPhone5′s in the first year.
There is also the reality that the aggregate energy impact of smarphones in total is continuing to rise at a staggering pace. The report suggests that global shipments of all smartphones (including upgrades) will reach 567 million in 2012. There are also predictions contained in the analysis that by 2016 there will be 1 Billion smartphone users around the world.
Given these predictions, it is also safe to assume that the demand for data centres around the world will continue to rise as well as energy demands that come with it. There are currently estimated to be about 3 million data centres worldwide which consume about 1.5% of the world’s total energy output. With the incredible growth rate of smartphones around the world, this total is expected to increase and some concerns may arise because of it.
An interesting comparsion was made by Opower that looked at the combined energy requirements of just the 170 million iPhone5 phones predicted to be sold in the first year. The report determined that the total energy used by these phones would equal the energy use of 54,000 US households. This would be comparable to powering the entire city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa – the 2nd largest city in that state.
While these figures relating to smartphone use may be cause for alarm, the report still concludes that this increase in smartphone use may actually result in a net energy benefit as opposed to a net energy strain. The rationale for this position is due to the fact that smartphones are often substituting, or in some cases, outright replacing the need for more energy-intensive electronics such as desktops, laptops and even TV’s.
The report states: “When all’s said and done, smartphones prevail as an energy-efficiency winner when it comes to the way we send an email, watch a video, or share a family photo. Put simply, a day spent web-surfing and facebooking on a smartphone or tablet is a much more energy-efficient day than doing the same on a traditional computer.”
The conclusion of the analysis from Opower provides an interesting insight into how the rapid growth of smartphones in society pose a good news/bad news scenario with respect to energy use. While some can see this analysis as positive step towards reducing global energy demands, it must be considered in combination with other factors not dealt with in this report.
The fact remains that the rapid growth of smartphones has created environmental strains related to the depleting of finite resources required in production of all consumer electronics as well as the negative impact associated with the disposal of unwanted phones. While phone recycling programs continue to grow, the number of phones being discarded in landfill sites still remains a huge ecological problem.
While the good news from this analysis is that we can make smartphones that use relatively little energy, especially when compared to other electronics such as desktop and laptop computers, until we can build phones that are relevant and desirable for longer periods of time, thus decreasing the perils of subsequent conspicuous consumption, the smartphone revolution will still be greeted with a muted and cautionary response from environmentalists the world over.
TO VIEW THE FULL ANALYSIS FROM OPOWER – CLICK HERE