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Obsolescence of electronics - the example of smartphones

: Proske, M.; Winzer, J.; Marwede, M.; Nissen, N.F.; Lang, K.-D.


Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration -IZM-, Berlin; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-:
International Congress Electronics Goes Green 2016+, EGG 2016. Proceedings : Inventing shades of green; September 7-9, 2016, Berlin, Germany; Proceedings
Piscataway, NJ: IEEE, 2016
ISBN: 978-3-00-053763-9
ISBN: 978-1-5090-5208-0 (Print)
International Congress Electronics Goes Green 2016+ (EGG) <2016, Berlin>
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Planned obsolescence has recently been a common allegation to manufacturers, but proof apart from isolated cases is missing. This paper analyses the situation for smartphones, looks at use- and lifetime of smartphones and the underlying reasons for their obsolescence. Surveys show that a majority of consumers believes in "planned obsolescence" as a fact on the market and would like to have more durable products. Regarding smartphones, broken screens and bad battery performance are often reported problems. At the same time, most phones are still functioning when being replaced after the average use time of two years. How do these two aspects combine? Short product cycles, new functionalities and features trigger replacement purchases (functional and psychological obsolescence) more strongly than broken devices. Necessary repair of products is expensive due to miniaturized product design, glued in batteries, and the limited availability of replacement parts (economical obsolescence). Besides, buying new products is often subsidized by provider contracts.