Apple may have only just released iOS 16, but it’s already revealing features that will arrive in its next smartphone update.
In a blog celebrating the release of iOS 16 (which has not only come to the new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro but many of the best iPhones you can buy today) Apple highlighted many of the new features it brings including customizable lock screens, an undo button in iMessage, and battery percentages in the status bar. But at the bottom of the page (opens in new tab), it also discussed features that will arrive in a future iOS 16 update.
One of these features is Clean Energy Charging which will supposedly reduce the carbon footprint of your iPhone.
Apple claims it’ll do this by “optimizing charging times for when the grid is using cleaner energy sources.” While it doesn’t elaborate much further, we imagine it will be similar to Apple’s existing Optimized Battery Charging feature, which allows the iPhone to change its charging rates so that it doesn’t overcharge overnight and reduce your device’s battery life. Instead of looking at the iPhone’s overall charge, your device will instead change its charging rates based on the energy sources the power grid is currently using.
This feature will obviously require Apple to know a fair amount about your country’s power grid though, so at launch, it’ll only be available in the US.
Analysis: Will this really make your iPhone greener?
On an individual level, we imagine it won’t do all that much, but on a larger scale, we could see some decent-sized impacts.
According to Compare the Market (opens in new tab), charging your phone in North America releases roughly 0.62kg of carbon dioxide each year. Based on 2021 figures from Statista (opens in new tab) 47% of people with smartphones in the US use an iPhone (that’s 113 million iPhones in total). Put those together and that means that iPhone users release roughly 70 million kg of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
Based on EPA data (opens in new tab) that pollution is the same as the combined carbon footprint of 15,000 gas-powered cars per year – which is equivalent to driving 173,754,389 miles.
It’s unclear how much of an improvement Clean Energy Charging will make, but if it can achieve, say, a 50% reduction in iPhone charging emissions that’s the same as taking 7,500 cars off the road, which isn’t terrible. We’ll have to wait and see how effective the initiative is when it launches, but we suspect that if it is successful at reducing emissions, Apple will be quick to tell us how amazing the feature is at the next Apple event, and then will hopefully bring it to other regions, too.