Building a new smartphone–and specifically, mining the rare materials inside them–represents 85% to 95% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for two years.
That means buying one new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade.
Smartphones with larger screens have a measurably worse carbon footprint than their smaller ancestors. Apple has publicly disclosed that building an iPhone 7 Plus creates roughly 10% more CO2 than the iPhone 6s, but an iPhone 7 standard creates roughly 10% less than a 6s. So according to Apple, the trend is getting better, but the bigger phones companies like Apple sell seem to offset some gains.
The key here is to NOT throw your phones every 2 years.