Shift smartphone: Good grades for transparency and social commitment
Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL
Modern smartphones contain hundreds of components made from a variety of different raw materials.
Extensive global supply chains pose human rights and environmental risks around the world.
Stiftung Warentest wanted to know how manufacturers deal with this responsibility.
To this end, the testers sent questionnaires to several smartphone manufacturers.
In it, companies should disclose what social and ecological requirements they place on their supply chain and raw material extraction and how they monitor compliance with these requirements.
The manufacturers should prove this on the basis of a smartphone selected as an example.
The Stiftung Warentest also asked for permission to have the production facilities checked by independent experts via video control.
Many companies did not answer at all
The sad result: According to Stiftung Warentest, five of the nine providers surveyed showed no appreciable commitment to corporate responsibility.
Accordingly, four companies did not respond to the questionnaire at all.
Nokia provided some information, but the answers were so poor that the testers rated them "poor".
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The two small manufacturers Fairphone and Shiftphone performed best in the test, both of which were rated "good".
Sustainability and corporate responsibility are part of the brand essence of these companies.
Both providers convinced the testers with a high level of transparency.
In addition, they pay their workers significantly more than the minimum wage and are committed to the fair extraction of raw materials.
However, even for these committed manufacturers, it has hardly been possible to date to trace all the important raw materials back to their origins.
No information on final assembly
The two largest smartphone manufacturers for the German market performed significantly worse: Samsung received the grade "satisfactory", Apple the rating "sufficient".
Both oblige their suppliers to comply with social and environmental standards and have mechanisms in place by which irregularities in their supply chains can be reported.
However, they did not give the independent experts any insight into their final assemblies.
According to Stiftung Warentest, Apple did not even want to disclose the factory in which its iPhone 12 Pro Max is manufactured.
Samsung was a bit more transparent in the test and provided evidence of working conditions and the origin of batteries and other components.
mak / dpa