We have another shiny new device on the market. Microsoft released its newest foldable smartphone, the Surface Duo, on September 10. When folded it’s 9.8 mm thick -- some 58 percent of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold (16.7 mm). Reviewers call it “downright futuristic,” even if the device is still working through its bugs.
There is one thing you won’t get with the $1,399 Duo – the ability to fix it.
iFixit.com, which reviews the repairability of consumer devices, found the device wasn’t “meant to be repaired, maybe not even by Microsoft,” and gave it a regrettable repairability score of 2 out of 10.
The debut of an unfixable device flies in the face of Microsoft's recent commitments to the environment. In August, Microsoft committed to a goal of achieving zero waste by 2030, with proposals to divert 90 percent of all of its waste from landfills, create circular centers to reuse its servers, and manufacture 100 percent recyclable Surface laptops.
While Microsoft is pledging zero-waste, it failed to do the single most important thing a tech company can do to reduce waste: make devices that stay in use.
Researchers estimate that 85 percent of the climate impact of a smartphone comes from the initial manufacturing stage. If Americans used their phones just one more year on average, 42.5 million lbs of raw material would be saved every day.
Pledges to go zero-waste and carbon negative are praiseworthy, but their impact is undercut if you create a product destined to become electronic waste as soon as it needs a repair. After all, Microsoft has the ability to make repairable and ultra-sleek devices – it has before.
Unless Microsoft addresses sustainability in its own devices, its pledges are, if you’ll excuse the pun, surface level. Microsoft should use its environmental leadership to champion repairability, and support repair. Your voice can help encourage them to rethink their opposition to Right to Repair.
The devices the earth really needs aren’t the shiny new toys – they are the ones we’ve already made, lasting as long as we can manage.
Image courtesy of iFixit.