Slowing the production cycle means making phones that last longer, which allows the resource and energy drain of each device to be spread over time. Extending lifespans is about designing more durable products, capable of being easily and inexpensively repaired or upgraded. It’s also about extending the lifespan of components, by harvesting parts from e-waste to reuse as spare parts or in new phones.
Design choices to extend product life include 1) material selection, i.e. whether the plastic or metal is non-virgin and is suitable for clean recycling, 2) accessible components, so that devices can be easily repaired and later disassembled, 3) availability of software updates, repair manuals, and spare parts.
Manufacturers should measure their innovation not by fewer millimeters and more megapixels, but by designing devices to last, by making them easily repairable and upgradeable, and using components and materials that can safely be reused again and again to make new phones.