The hibernating mobile phonePhoto: heskettk, Flickr (Creative Commons)

How long do mobile phone owners keep their old phones at home, and for what reasons? A newly released scientific article looks into the phenomenon of ‘hibernating phones’.

The hibernating mobile phonePhoto: heskettk, Flickr (Creative Commons)

The article, by researchers from the Loughborough University, the University of Surrey and the University of the West of England, is based on a survey filled in by 181 respondents aged 18-25. The researchers found that on average, these users tend to keep their phones ‘in hibernation’ for a longer period than they actually use it (3 years versus 1 year and 11 months on average, respectively). The respondents explained that they tend to use an older model as a secondary phone, for example as a spare in case their newest phone breaks down.

It is important to take this into account for recycling systems. While it is most beneficial from an environmental, economic and technological viewpoint to return a phone after it has been used for about two years, when it still has value, users first need to be convinced to say goodbye to their ‘spare device’. The article proposes an alternative system in which older phones are refurbished and provided as a spare alongside the newly leased or purchased primary phone.

Read the full article here.