Nationwide survey: although it can be dangerous, more than half of Hungarians store mobile phones no longer in use in their homes

Public awareness has improved compared to last year, but there is still room for improvement

Although fewer than last year, but more than half of Hungarians still store unused mobile phones in their homes, despite the fact that ageing batteries can pose an environmental hazard and even cause a fire in the home, according to a representative nationwide survey by Yettel. Those who don’t keep their used handsets usually give them to elderly relatives or children, and although most people are worried about their data being misused, many don’t pay enough attention to deleting them when they pass their mobile phone on. In its survey, the mobile operator looked at the lifecycle of used mobile phones and awareness related e-waste.

Based on Yettel’s latest representative nationwide survey[1], half of Hungarians use a mobile phone for 3-4 years, while a fifth of them use it for more than 4 years. More than half of respondents already owned a phone that someone else had used before, and more than a third has already given a phone to someone else in the family.

The most common reason for replacing a mobile phone is when the old one becomes unusable (55%). In addition, many people replace their still functional handsets when they are badly worn (39%). 38% of respondents are also willing to replace their mobile phone for a new feature (33% of women and 43% of men) and for men, the launch of a new model can also be a reason to replace their mobile phone (11%). A third of respondents also said they would change their current phone more often if they could. However, a previous survey showed that due to the current economic situation, a third of Hungarians try to postpone the replacement of their phone[2].

What happens to old handsets

More than half of respondents (55%) still store their unused mobile handsets at home. Although this is an improvement over last year’s result (63%), it remains the most common fate for unused mobile phones. Of those who choose to store their handset, 47% keep one, 32% keep two, and 21% keep three or more mobile phones in a drawer. In contrast, last year[3] half of respondents (46%) who had old mobile phones had 3 or more of them at home, and they could be more than 10-15 years old.

The results of the survey show that the people who decide to keep their old mobile phones are most likely to give them away or donate them (40%), while 23% of respondents choose to sell them. Those who pass their mobile phone on are most likely to give it to a child (45%) or a parent (46%), while one in five will give it to a grandparent or other elderly relative. Interestingly, while 65% of respondents are concerned that their data could be misused, 16% (and 25% of young adults) have not deleted their personal data before giving their old mobile phone to someone else.

Old handsets are still valuable

Fortunately, fewer mobile handsets are ending up in the bin, but still nearly one in ten people still throw away their old phones. This is also a problem because electronic waste, including mobile phones, contains hazardous substances that are harmless when used as intended, but can pose a threat if phones are not stored properly or if they end up in municipal waste. For example, an old battery may start to leak, releasing hazardous substances into the environment or even causing a fire. When you return the phone to your operator, the handset will be properly dismantled by specialist technicians, and the components, including valuable metals, will be recovered and recycled using appropriate processes to prevent the potential release of hazardous materials into the environment.

Yettel now has a special offer for old mobile phones: until 30 August, you can return used or non-functioning mobile phones to any Yettel shop, and receive a discount of HUF 30,000 on the purchase of a new mobile phone with a public consumer voice tariff and a 2-year contract.

More information:   

[1] A nationwide survey commissioned by Yettel and conducted on the Ipsos online panel, representative of gender, age, type of settlement and region, completed by 840 respondents between 30 June 2023 and 6 July 2023.  
[2] The nms online population sample, completed by 544 respondents between 8 and 11 June 2023, representative of age, gender and region.
[3] A nationwide survey commissioned by Yettel and conducted on the Ipsos online panel, representative of gender, age, type of settlement and region, completed by 840 respondents between 1 July and 6 July 2022.