Actually, the iOS security feature “Find my iPhone” is supposed to ensure that users can find their beloved iPhone again after it has been lost and thus continue to use it. But it is precisely this that ensures that many iPhones have to be destroyed.
Several iPhones are simply shredded every month – even though these smartphones could still be used by other people. However, the devices that can actually still be used can only be destroyed for a specific reason: the activation lock “Activation Lock”.
iPhones actually “perfectly reusable”
“We get four to six thousand locked iPhones every month,” Peter Schindler, founder and owner of The Wireless Alliance , told iFixit . The organization has been recycling telephones of all kinds for more than 17 years. Between 2015 and 2018, it received more than six million donated cell phones for recycling , which are actually “perfectly reusable”. But: The iPhones have to be dismantled into individual parts instead of entering the market for used smartphones directly.
A report by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group from 2019 also shows how iPhones are being destroyed en masse because the security function in the iOS operating system prevents the cell phones from being recycled. According to the report, the organization The Wireless Alliance received more than 66,000 iPhones that were destroyed between 2015 and 2018 at the recycling center, which specializes in electronics, in the American state of Colorado.
The number of devices to be destroyed increases
Since the release of macOS Catalina in autumn 2019, every Mac equipped with the new T2 security chip from Apple has been equipped with an “Activation Lock”. As a result, a lot of Macs that can actually still be reused will also have to be destroyed in the future.
In an interview with iFixit, Peter Schindler is disappointed with the current situation: “It annoys me as a person when I have to throw away six thousand telephones every month that could otherwise get into the hands of someone who would have really appreciated it, and many more this device Years. ”Schindler’s frustration is now increasing, as desktops and laptops will suffer the same fate as many thousands of iPhones in the future .
iPhone destruction is bad for the environment
Reusing iPhones is of interest when looking at less affluent people who are more likely to buy a used phone because they can’t afford a new iPhone. Another aspect is reducing the negative effects on the environment that arise from the production of smartphones. “In America we dispose of over 416,000 phones a day, about 7,800 a day in Colorado. According to the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 165 pounds of raw material (editor’s note approx. 75 kilograms) are required to produce an 8-ounce cell phone (editor’s note approx. 226 grams). Most greenhouse gas emissions are related to the production of a cell phone, not the use of the cell phone, ”said the Colorado report.
That’s why the safety function is to blame
But why is an iOS security feature to blame that so many smartphones end up in the garbage dump? The reason for this is the iPhone’s activation lock, which is part of the “Find my iPhone” function. Because when an iPhone user activates “Find my iPhone”, the activation lock is automatically activated. This stores the Apple ID on Apple’s activation servers and connects it to the respective device. The Apple ID password is required to switch off “Find My iPhone” or to reset the iPhone to factory settings in order to erase all data. Actually, this is a great feature if users lose their smartphone or it has been stolen.
The iPhone can then be put into “Lost Mode”. This feature locks the screen and displays a custom message that makes it easy to restore. Apple’s statement on the security function: “While the activation lock works in the background to make it difficult to use or sell your missing device, ‘Lost Mode’ clearly shows anyone who finds your device that it still belongs to you and cannot be reactivated without your password. ”
Sounds like a good security feature, but it also has a disadvantage. “There is currently no system that enables companies like The Wireless Alliance to flag unstolen activations of locked cell phones from manufacturers like Apple and Samsung in order to disable the locks so that new consumers can benefit from the perfectly reusable devices of their predecessors. If a phone’s activation lock is not unlocked by the original owner, the lock is permanent, ”according to the Colorado Public Interest Research report.
You can do that
To avoid destroying your own cell phone after it has been used, it is not necessary to deactivate the “Find My iPhone” function. After all, this feature secures your iPhone and your data. However, if you want to recycle your old iPhone, you should remember to deactivate “Find My iPhone” and thus deactivate the Activation Lock at the same time. You should also delete all of your data beforehand. You can do this if you select the menu item “Settings” and go to “General”. You can delete all content under “Reset”. You can recycle an iPhone in an Apple store, for example.