Fixing Your Smartphone Yourself (Best Tech Projects for Sustainability)
It seems like in this day and age there are so many people with a mentality of ‘just buy a new one’ whenever something breaks. Not only is this decision incredibly unsustainable, but it also puts people at the mercy of gouging company prices and a limited ability to be fully self-sufficient.
Learning how to do basic repairs on your smartphone is one way to start breaking this cycle. Not only does it make you less reliant on tech companies, but it is also better for the environment. Many of the components in smartphones have to be mined, and many are not recycled after the phone is discarded.
Here’s a quick guide to making smartphone repairs so you can get more years out of your phone and cut back on the waste associated with regularly buying a new one. Smartphone repairs are just one of many steps towards a more energy efficient and less wasteful lifestyle.
You’re not the first person to recognize how frustrating it is to have such an expensive and essential device break and not be able to do anything about it. Hundreds of thousands of people have complained about the stranglehold tech companies have on the hardware associated with their devices. Smartphones and other tech devices have come up in many discussions about the right to repair the items you own.
Fortunately, the tech companies are responding, albeit slowly. Today, all of the major players in the smartphone industry are beginning to offer some form of self-repair support.
Samsung recently announced that Galaxy device owners will be able to repair some of their most popular models, including the Galaxy S20 and S21 families as well as the Galaxy Tab S7+. Consumers will not only have access to guides on how to fix the products, but they can also order genuine parts and repair tools.
Likewise, Apple also recently announced a self-repair service for the iPhone. Tools, guides, and parts will become available for the iPhone 12 and 13 starting in the summer of 2022. MacBook repair kits are also forthcoming. Unfortunately, Apple — which is notoriously hostile toward independent repair shops — has implemented a bit of a catch. It only enables serial-number authorized repairs, meaning you still have to work with Apple to configure your new software after it’s been installed.
E-waste is a significant issue in the world today. Many smartphones and other modern electronics require precious metals that have to be mined. Furthermore, many of these components are difficult, if not downright dangerous, to recycle without proper technology. All of this means that few electronics are effectively recycled and many simply go to the landfill. Anything that extends the life of your phone is not only a win for your wallet but also the environment.
Small things can make a big difference in extending the life of your phone, such as:
- Deleting and removing apps and files — these files can take up a lot of space on your phone and really slow it down. Video files are especially cumbersome.
- Do upgrades that update cybersecurity — many tech companies regularly push cybersecurity updates. If your phone is out of sync, it is at risk of a crippling security breach.
- Turning your phone off periodically — doing so helps clear the RAM, shuts down open apps, and addresses some memory leaks
- Clean your phone — a surprising amount of gunk and debris can accumulate in the crevices of your phone, even if you just carry it in your pocket. Cleaning your phone regularly can keep charging and audio ports clear.
- Use protective cases and glassware — this one is a no-brainer. Most phones break because they are dropped and using a protective case can ensure your phone survives all the accidental falls it has.
- Replacing the battery — regardless of how well you care for your phone, sooner or later it will need a new battery. Replacing the old one can help conserve the life of the rest of your phone.
- Replacing the chip — if you’ve replaced everything else and are still having issues with performance, you can replace the chip inside your phone. Not all phones will allow for this option, but some do, so dig into the fine print of your phone and its contract to see if you can swap out chips for longer life and better performance.
Sooner or later, your phone will have to be replaced. At that time, seek out a responsible place to recycle your electronics. Following these guidelines to extend the life of your smartphone and taking its repair into your own hands will help prolong its life and enable you to do one small part to reduce waste in the world.
Sam Bowman writes about people, sustainability, recycling, and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for the community without actually having to leave his house. He volunteers his time as a local recycling and waste reduction activist, working to help people better navigate proper recycling. In his spare time, he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.