Nokia’s best eco-designed smartphone leaves us dubious

HMD showed off its most “eco-friendly” phone, the X30, and — admittedly — we expected more effort.

It is never easy to position yourself in front of a tech manufacturer who explains that he wants to make efforts to minimize the environmental impact of his products. On the one hand, it is an approach that absolutely must be encouraged, necessary and in tune with the times. On the other hand, it’s hard not to imagine that it is possible to do much more, and that these efforts are above all highlighted for communication purposes to green its image with a lot of greenwashing.

This is exactly the state of mind in which we are faced with the Nokia X30, a €499 smartphone recently presented by HMD and whose technical characteristics have been analyzed by our mobility experts. A phone that is presented as the most “eco-friendly” ever designed by the brand. On this criterion, its strengths are the use of a 100% recycled aluminum frame and a rear panel using 65% recycled plastic, not to mention a 70% recycled packaging. HMD also insists on three-year software support (with monthly security updates) and a manufacturer’s warranty also extended to three years (as Oppo does for its Reno 8).

Some recycled materials, three years of warranty and… that’s it

Commendable efforts, which however conceal several things. Already, other manufacturers are going much further in their ethical smartphone approach. This is the case of Fairphone, for example, which strives to use more recycled materials, but also components that avoid resources from conflict zones as much as possible. In addition, while trying to extend the life of a product by relying on extended software support is a good thing, it is not enough. For a smartphone to last, it must have been eco-designed on many levels: it must be resistant and easily repairable (with all that this implies, from the supply of spare parts to manuals, in through easy access to components). And to go a little further, that it also maximizes its end-of-life recycling process.

Our colleagues from The Verge were able to ask HMD Marketing Director, Adam Ferguson, about this mismatch between the talk of sustainability and the obvious lack of effort. “Our main objective is to attack what we consider to be the two elements [l’aluminium et le plastique, NDLR] where we can make the biggest difference and which will have the biggest impact on e-waste.”he replies, assuring that the brand will look for other ways to improve the ecological balance of its products in the future.

Finally, there remains an innovative business logic, because the Nokia X30 is one of the devices integrating the manufacturer’s new Circular program. The idea? You can buy the phone, or rent it for a few tens of euros per month without commitment (for a minimum period of three months). Interesting to meet specific needs, knowing that once returned, the phone will be reused, reconditioned or recycled, depending on its condition. Which is always better than ending up in a drawer.

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