Comparing Two Cell Phones 17 Years Apart

Comparing Two Cell Phones 17 Years Apart

Cell Phone Comparison

We disassembled two very different cell phones to document the differences in components and technologies. The two phones were released 17 years apart, making them good candidates for this demonstration. The total weights of each item or material is shown in (grams) in the upper corner of each image.


Old Vs New Cell Phone Comparison Main


There is a substantial difference in the circuit board weights as shown below. The older Qualcomm phone has circuit boards weighing 55 grams, or 25% of it’s total weight. The newer LG board only weighs 15 grams, or 12% of it’s total weight.


New vs Old Cell Phone Circuit Board


The batteries also vary greatly in overall size and weight. The Qualcomm battery accounts for 50% of the total weight of the phone, while the newer technology in the LG allows it to use a battery weighing only 32% of the phone’s weight.


New Vs Old Cell Phone Battery


The amount of plastic used is surprisingly similar, with the older Qualcomm’s plastic content weighing in at 14% and the newer LG at 16%. It should be noted that this stat is based entirely on which phone is used for reference. An iPhone 6 for example, with a frame constructed primarily of aluminum will feature very little plastic, roughly less than 5% by weight.


New Vs Old Cell Phone Plastic


Screen size is one of the major differences between these two phones. The Qualcomm uses a tiny 1.75″ display, the LG uses a 4.5″ touchscreen. The smaller screen comes in at <5 grams, which is approximately 2% of the phone’s weight. If  the more modern LG phone retained that screen:phone weight ratio, with it’s current screen the phone would weigh 2250 grams, or 4.96 pounds. Luckily, that is not the case, the LG screen comes in at 45 grams, which is 36%.


New Vs Old Cell Phone Screen


Steel is a commonly used material in cell phones, but it’s typically quite sparse. The qualcomm had it as shielding on the surface mount chips and antenna base mount, it weighed in at <5 grams, or 2%. The LG had even less, only used for shielding around the SIM/SD slots, it didn’t even register on the scale, realistically around 0.25 grams.


New Vs Old Cell Phone Steel


Miscellaneous materials such as rubber, wire, speakers, microphones, and cameras make up a small percentage of the weight. The assorted remaining items in the Qualcomm amounted to 10 grams, or approximately 5%. The LG was  <5 grams, or around 4%.


New Vs Old Cell Phone Parts


We hope this detailed breakdown of components and individual weights is educational and helpful to those interested in recycling electronics. A more detailed description of mentioned materials can be seen here: What is a cell phone made of?

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at




What is a cell phone made of?

A cell phone is made of various materials, including plastics, base metals, precious metals, and other miscellaneous components. See a more detailed breakdown below.

what is a cell phone made of


Polycarbonate plastic plays a large part in the production of modern cell phone bodies. This material has superior flexibility and impact resistance. It also has the upside of being very cheap to manufacture in addition to having no antenna interference. ABS and hybrid Poly ABS variations are commonly found as well.


Base Metals

The use of base metals for phone chassis has become more common as consumers expect higher quality materials as cell phone prices rise. Aluminum is the most common in current applications, offering higher structural rigidity and a more refined finish. One of the downsides of using aluminum is the negative effect it has on antenna reception, resulting in most aluminum bodied phones coming with an external antenna.


Precious Metals

Consumer cell phones contain trace amounts of various precious metals. These include Silver, Nickel, Palladium, Platinum, Copper, and Gold, among others. Circuit board component manufacturing and electroplating has vastly improved. The result is thinner precious metal surface coverage. We should strive to mitigate the impact of mining these materials by responsibly recycling our consumer goods.



Glass and PMMA screens, Lithium-Ion batteries, and plastic/fiber circuit boards are all common as well. Screws and hardware can be steel or variations of a magnesium alloy. Each phone model will have differences in the use of each material.

See a showcase of the different materials shown here.