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Is This The Most Sustainable Phone in the World?

By Abraham Joseph -

Hot from paying £45 to upgrade the battery on my iPhone 6S, I headed to MWC to check out the latest tech. Did I hear you say luddite? How dare you! I’ll have you know that I have it all worked out. Dutifully, I already bought a leather case in anticipation of upgrading to the iPhone X when Apple forces me. Oops, I meant the XS. Actually, I’m hoping that it will be the iPhone 11 or 12 and that they'll keep the same form factor by the time I succumb.

Like many others, I have method to my ludditism, or madness if you prefer. Aside from the convenience of the 3.5 mm jack for a favourite headphone (or for that matter any old headphone/earphone in an emergency) versus having a dongle in every jacket, bag and family car, plus  the inconvenience of not being able to listen to music while charging, many of us question the necessity (and expense) of upgrading, when the current tech is perfectly useful for our needs.

Tthere is, of course, a broader, much more serious issue at stake resulting from the incessant rush to upgrade and obsolescence: the impact on the planet.

What if it were possible to keep your phone and just upgrade specific components as needed? A new processor, a new camera or a new screen when the need arises. Yes, I know, there have been several attempts at building modular phones in the past, and none has taken hold. However, there is such a thing as miss-timing of market entry.

With growing concerns about climate change and other environmental impacts, might now be the right time for a modular phone? Carsten Waldek, Founder and CEO SHIFT, GmbH (above) thinks so. I bumped into him at Showstoppers at Mobile World Congress.

“This is the most modular phone in the world”, he says, as he pulls various components apart while the phone is still running.

Carsten is on a mission. Inspired, he says, by a trip he made to the Democratic Republic of the Congo several years ago. There, he saw the grave damage that was being done to the environment.

He promises to channel all profits from SHIFT into sustainability and social projects. Also, he wishes to inspire the market to adopt more sustainable practices through his inventions. Hence SHIFT in very open with its intellectual property and will not stop others from copying its designs.

SHIFT has designed ten phone models. However, only two are available currently: the SHIFT 6m and the SHIFT 5me. The former costs €555 and the latter €444.

SHIFTPHONES phones are based on the Android 8 (Oreo) operating system and are available either in a 'light' version (i.e. wthout Google Services) or in a 'G' version (with Google GMS certified). Additional OS options are under Development.