Smartphone makers are starting to advertise their strategies in reducing their environmental footprint, but many of those often involve changes to packaging. The latest example is the controversial removal of the charger from iPhone 12 boxes, something that Samsung first ridiculed but then will reportedly copy. Electronic waste, however, comes in different forms and one of the biggest is actually the number of smartphones being thrown out. At CES 2021, Samsung revealed a new aspect of its Upcycling program that will give unused Galaxy phones a new lease on life at home.
Most manufacturers offer to take their old phones to refurbish them, recycle their parts, or even properly dispose of them if they’re completely unusable. That, however, presumes owners do take the extra steps to turn their old devices in, often without compensation. Presuming they haven’t traded them in or handed them down to others, most simply hold on to their old, unused phones, completely forgotten and eventually ending up in landfills anyway.
Samsung’s Upcycling program has been trying to give a different spin to the idea of recycling used or unused materials. It has, for example, tried to encourage using its TV boxes as small-scale furniture or even cat houses. The idea isn’t just to reuse products and materials but to actually give them a different use.
With Upcycling at Home, Samsung will attempt to turn your unused Galaxy phone into a smart home device, particularly one that takes advantage of the phone’s sensors and Internet connectivity. They can be repurposed into baby or pet monitors and can be used to remotely control other smart home appliances like smart lights.
This won’t happen automatically but it does require a simple software update or app so that anyone can adopt this Upcycling at Home program. When that will happen, however, Samsung hasn’t yet disclosed but it won’t be the first time it made a big splash about Upcycling and then go silent for long periods of time.