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How ethical is iPhone?

iPhone, a mobile phone brand owned by Apple Inc., is given a low Ethical Rating by The Good Shopping Guide. Unfortunately, this brand receives a low Good Shopping Guide Ethical Score in our Ethical Mobile Phone Ratings Table and has therefore not yet met our minimum Ethical Benchmark.

Are iPhones ethical?

For those ethical shoppers who keep an eye on technology news, it might come as little surprise that our rating for iPhone’s Human Rights and Political Donations criteria is very low!

Apple and Customer data

In  May 2021, Apple’s data centre in Guiyang raised privacy and security concerns, as the company largely ceded control of the centre to the Chinese government. Chinese state employees manage the computers, which raises concerns about the government’s potential use of customer data.  In an NYT report on the Silicon Valley company, Nicholas Bequelin renounced Apple, saying that the business “… has become a cog in the censorship machine that presents a government-controlled version of the internet…”.

The Chinese state has “blocked tools for organizing pro-democracy protests and skirting internet restrictions, as well as apps about the Dalai Lama.” (New York Times, Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China).

Apple has done very little about the way in which the Chinese government have censored the Apple App Store, and has even been accused of courting the state in order to open the Chinese market to them.

Apple and the Uyghur genocide

Apple’s involvement with the Chinese government doesn’t stop there; the Australian Strategic Policy Institute identified that Apple was also using forced labour from the Uyghur people in factories across China.

The Chinese government have been accused of strategising a genocide against the ethnic group, holding Uyghurs in centres far away from their home in Xinjiang, ‘brainwashing’ and forcing abortions and sterilisations. Any company that knowingly uses forced Uyghur labour and supports the Chinese government’s genocide scores very low in our Human Rights criteria.

Apple’s human rights breaches go on: from assisting the Burmese military to exposing Chinese factory workers to carcinogenic chemicals, to tax dodging, to millions in political donations, Apple’s iPhone is not an ethical brand of mobile phone.

In which areas does iPhone perform well? 

Apple has produced an environmental impact report with evidence of attainable targets, and progress in its previous sustainability commitments. As well as reducing its carbon emissions by 35% since 2015, Apple has also promised zero carbon emissions by 2030. Renewable electricity is used in Apple’s ‘Operations’ sectors (including in its offices, and data centres). Some of the newer models of iPhone (the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max) are built from 100% recycled rare earth materials.

iPhones are, in a way, ubiquitous these days. If you are thinking of buying an iPhone, why not look out for a refurbished model? Not only does this prevent your cash from going to businesses like Apple, but also reduces e-waste and the need for new resources!

How can the iPhone brand improve its Ethical Rating? 

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to iPhone. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, iPhone has several issues to deal with, including its Human Rights abuses and history of making political donations.

If your mobile phone brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide‘s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.


Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Nuclear Power


  • Eco Labels


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Human Rights


  • Conflict Minerals


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating