If a product that consumes a lot of electricity, contains potentially hazardous chemicals and rarely gets disposed of properly can be considered green, the Nokia 3110 Evolve is it. Nokia unwrapped the phone late last year, pitching it as "technology meets ecology". Well, you're about to find out if tech and eco are best chums, as we've been playing with the Evolve over the weekend.
There are a few big claims to eco credibility. First is the size of the box, which we found is about a quarter of the size of most Nokia mobiles (see photos below). As well as the tiny size -- which in theory should mean a lower carbon footprint, since you can pack more per truck/case/ship -- the packaging's made from 60 per cent recycled card. That's cute, but for true greenie kudos, it's hard to see why it couldn't be either 100 per cent recycled or part-recycled and part-FSC-certified (from happy sustainable forests) like our business cards here at SmartPlanet.
Next up is the phone's casing, which is made from 50 per cent "bio-materials". We've asked Nokia to elaborate on what exactly that is, but we suspect it's a plastic that's derived from corn -- the sort of material that Sony's used before in DVD players and NEC's fooled around with on Japanese phones.
The rest of the casing is standard plastic, which ultimately comes from oil via the petrochemical industry. The good news is that you'd never know the keys once upon a time grew as plants in a field -- it just feels like any other Nokia we've ever owned (about 12 and counting). Again, this is a step in the right direction, though to be really neat, the case would be made from 100 per cent renewable resources and you'd be able to compost it after death, much like one of Belu's water bottles.
And so on to the wall charger, which Nokia bigs up on the grounds that it uses 94 per cent less power than Energy Star requirements. Sounds darn impressive, right? Well, it does until you get your head around the scale of energy savings being talked about.
All mobile phone chargers use a tiny amount of electricity when plugged into a live plug socket even after the phone has a full battery or gets unplugged. But exactly how tiny? We plugged a standard new Nokia charger (an AC-3X, one with the newer thinner tip) into our watt meter. Our measurement: 0 watts. We then plugged in the Evolve's new eco charger. Our measurement: 0 watts.
Yup, these chargers use so little power that our measuring kit didn't register it. To get any flicker of power consumption we had to plug in not one, not two, not three, but four new Nokia chargers. That got us up to 0.3-0.4 watts. Don't get us wrong. Any energy-saving is A Good Thing, especially if you multiply it by the billion mobiles sold annually. But let's not get carried away here: we're talking about fractional savings that we couldn't even measure.
Rounding things out are a couple of pre-loaded browser bookmarks to the WWF's mobile site. Green? No. Nice? Yes.
As a phone, the Evolve's fine and dandy. We used it for a weekend and it's very basic but very useable, with nice big keys that are very responsive. Call quality's very good, plus you get all the features you get with most modern Series 40 Nokias (phones running on Nokia's 'basic' operating system). Namely, an FM radio, simple interface, very competent media player and a passable camera. Hit the product page for the full spec.
All told, we like the Evolve, even if it doesn't have the cape to be the mobile phone equivalent of Captain Planet. It's not been picked up by any networks yet, but is on sale for £150 exclusively at the Nokia Shop.
If you're after a green Nokia, we also recommend you check out its two concept treehugger mobiles, the Remade.