I understand that we, as a human race, have to balance our God-given need to speak on cell phones with the fact that those little devices use up resources and pollute the area around the manufacturing plant when they're made. They pollute our brains with errant radio waves while we use them, and then pollute the planet when we finally get rid of them. In other words, we really do have to find a better way to recycle our cell phones and the parts inside (especially the batteries.)
That's why I was especially interested in trying a new "green" phone that
is offering: The
W233 renew (that's an understated, lower-case "R" in renew). I figured that it would be a good idea to check the current state of the art of recycled cell phones. I figured wrong.
MOTO W233 Renew
My first clue was that the handset came in a de rigueur, "green," rough-hewn, brown cardboard box. Sort of a cliché -- except for the colored ink they used to highlight the colors of the handset itself. Other manufacturers have made odd-looking recycled handsets as well.
comes to mind as one such company.
And let's discuss that handset. It's an unappealing combination of pastel green, white and black plastic. Motorola states that the housing is "made of plastic that contains recycled water bottles." It doesn't really say what percentage is made of recycled water bottles though. Motorola does point out that the phone is packaged in a "100% recyclable container."
To its credit, Moto can claim that the W233 renew is "Certified Carbon Free" and neutral through an alliance with CarbonFund.org. The company also gives you a postage-paid recycling envelope for when you're done using the phone.
The phone itself is very basic in a number of ways. It's a dual-band (North American only 850/1900) 2G phone with amazing battery life. Think in terms of up to nine hours of talk and 18.5 days of stand-by time from a single charge.
It measures 4.4 by 1.6 by 0.8 inches and weighs only 3 ounces. It has a microSD memory card slot that lets you add up to 2GB of removable storage (hear that Apple
?) There's a built-in music player, vibrating alerts, a hi-fi ringer, games and even a rudimentary Web browser.
Here's my take: The color screen looks somewhat washed out under all conditions. Because the phone uses 2G networks, using the Web browser takes a lot of patience and time. It's better not to use it. The music player works very well -- plays loudly (if you want it to). MicroSD cards can hold a lot of music though.
As a super-basic phone it passes muster. As something cool or exciting, I'm afraid not. It might be a little cooler if they made it to look like a non-green phone, but that would probably not excite the younger audience that this phone is targeted toward. Build quality seems OK overall.
The best part of the Motorola W233 renew is its user-friendly price. T-Mobile says the suggested retail price is $59.99 but that its giving instant discounts of $50 -- so that the phone will really cost you only $9.99 (with a two-year service plan). At that price, the W233 would make a good first cell phone for youngsters -- one that comes with an envelope for recycling once the owner is ready to graduate to a real phone.
One final warning, recycling any old cell phone is a good way to dispose of it, and it's also good for the planet. Let the experts get rid of the bad stuff and recycle the good stuff. But please remember that before you send your phone back, you must find the setting that resets the phone to its original state -- and permanently removes all your personal information.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.