ByTrey Granger

Apr 25, 2018

Are you in the market for a new smartphone? The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ models have been available for just over a month. But before you commit to an upgrade, let’s walk through their eco-friendliness.


The new Galaxy smartphones still have an aluminum shell, but use a stiffer aluminum alloy to make it more durable. Other smartphone manufacturers have switched to glass, which is more prone to scratches and cracks.

The S9 and S9+ are both registered with Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold status based on their use of recycled content and limited use of toxic metals like cadmium and mercury.

Samsung packages the new models in 90 percent recycled paper fiber (no expanded polystyrene) and uses recycled content for the plastic packaging. Both models come with a paper quick-start guide, but to reduce their use of paper, the full manual is available online only. It’s no surprise that Samsung has won awards for designing its products with recycling in mind.

Samsung Galaxy S9 in Lilac Purple. Photo: Samsung

Power Management

Samsung claims that the Galaxy S9 can last 12 hours using a wireless connection, and independent tests comparing the S9+ and the iPhone X demonstrate that the Galaxy will last longer. Longer battery life means less times charging your phone, and more time before the battery needs to be replaced. This is a significant factor since you can’t replace the battery yourself.

The charger uses a USB Type-C port, the same port technology used by more than 40 different smartphones. This means if you’re upgrading from an S8 or switching phone brands, it’s likely you can use your old charger or share chargers within your family.

Shelf Life

The average American upgrades phones every 18 months — but this upgrade rate isn’t based solely on the consumer’s desire for the latest features. After two years, the software provider typically stops providing updates, making the phone more susceptible to security breaches.

Samsung recently announced that it will guarantee three years of software updates for the S9 enterprise edition, which puts it on the same level as the Google Pixel 2. If you take care of the phone, it should last a long time.

End of Life

When you’re ready to upgrade to the S10 (or another phone), you can rest assured that your S9 has a huge recycling market. Samsung offers a mail-in recycling program for all its portable products, but you can also trade it in for credit toward the purchase of a new phone through your service provider.

In 2016, Samsung recalled and recycled 4 million of its Galaxy Note 7 tablets because of battery issues. Here’s hoping the S9 avoids any recalls and that Samsung continues moving in the right direction with its sustainability and recycling practices.

Feature images courtesy of Samsung

By Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.