• O2 Recycle helps couple to create an engagement ring from the iPhone 5s smartphones that first brought them together
  • A fifth (19%) of millennials have got engaged to someone they met via their phone, as two out of five (42%) say it’s impossible to find and maintain a relationship without their mobile
  • A quarter (27%) of millennials speak to their partner more often via the phone than they do face-to-face
  • Mobile dating apps are officially the most reliable way to find a partner, as a quarter (28%) of millennials give up hope of finding someone in traditional ways

A couple have got engaged using a ring made exclusively* from the smartphones they credit with bringing them together, in a world-first proposal.

The ring, created by O2 Recycle to celebrate its 10th anniversary – in partnership with bespoke sustainable jeweller, Lylie’s – has been made from the couple’s recycled iPhone 5s smartphones. The ring is made from the handset speakers and microphones that James Lawrence and Hayley Orchard used for whispering sweet nothings to each other, the cameras they used for selfies and video chat when living apart, and a gold band created using the very circuit boards that kept those phones alive.

With research by O2 Recycle**, surveying 2,022 millennials from across the UK, discovering as many as two out of five (42%) believe it would be impossible to find and maintain a relationship without their smartphone in the 21st century, it is becoming increasingly likely millennials will depend on their mobiles to find love.

Almost three quarters (73%) of millennials now actively use mobile dating apps to find a partner, meaning more now meet their soul mate via their smartphone (22%) than any traditional method. Indeed, despite preconceptions, almost twice as many (30%) are looking for someone to marry on mobile dating apps than for casual sex (16%).

As a result of this change, a fifth (19%) of millennials using mobile dating apps have gone on to get engaged to someone they matched with, while a third (31%) first raised the idea of a proposal via their phone rather than face-to-face for fear of awkward conversations in person.

Once in a relationship, mobile phones remain essential, with a quarter (27%) of millennials confessing they speak to their partner more often via the phone than they do face-to-face. This is particularly true during the early stages of a relationship when they’re getting to know each other, as the average millennial spends over three hours (183 minutes) per day communicating with their partner via call, text and social media during the first three months.

To celebrate its milestone anniversary, O2 Recycle commissioned the first ever engagement ring to be made entirely from smartphones, following findings that half (50%) of environmentally conscious millennials would happily wear an engagement ring made from recycled materials, with sentimentality (59%) voted three times more important than cost (22%).

Nicola Green, Director of Corporate Affairs at O2, said: “Since 2009, O2 Recycle has saved 450 tonnes of waste from landfill that’s the equivalent of thirty-five London buses’ worth of phones being recycled, and over £225 million going back to environmentally conscious customers. We hope the story of James and Hayley will inspire even more people to see that recycling can mean a new life for your old mobile, once you’re finished with it.”

Newly engaged James Lawrence, from Melksham, said: “I met my fiancée Hayley on Tinder and quickly realised she was the one for me. The foundations of our relationship were built by spending hours sharing messages every day and having long telephone conversations before bed every night. Those foundations turned into a house that we now share with our 10-month-old daughter and I wanted to celebrate the phones that brought me together with the love of my life. Hayley thought the ring looked beautiful and jumped at the chance to show all of her friends, she couldn’t be happier with the sentiment.”

Mobile dating apps continue to become increasingly popular as millennials fail to experience success elsewhere, leading a quarter (28%) to admit they’ve officially given up hope of finding someone in traditional ways. Indeed, just one in six (16%) have met their most serious relationship via a friend and only a tenth (11%) at a bar or nightclub, compared to a third (35%) of mobile dating app users who have had at least one serious relationship thanks to swiping right.

With more people dating online, the key findings from the O2 Recycle research could help singletons avoid mobile dating pitfalls so they too can find love:

  1. Don’t always believe what you see: Three out of five (58%) millennials confess to using old pictures and a third (35%) have used photoshop to make themselves look more appealing. Men are particularly susceptible as a third have paid a professional photographer (32%) or taken pictures with pets that aren’t even their own (34%) in an effort to attract more attention
  2. Think carefully about the first message: A quarter (23%) of millennials say the best thing about mobile dating apps is it’s easier to start a conversation, but two out of five (39%) women refuse to send the first message. A third (31%) of men message within 30 minutes of being matched, but a quarter (28%) of women have been turned off immediately by a cliché opening line
  3. Don’t be afraid to reply to messages quickly: A third (31%) of millennials wait at least an hour to reply to messages, despite a quarter (25%) being turned off by slow replies compared to just a tenth (9%) for replying too quickly
  4. Content is king: Two out of five (43%) millennials have been turned off by dry chat and almost a third (29%) by bad grammar. Three out of five (58%) women have been turned off by being too forward with sexual advances
  5. First date impressions are important: The average millennial will wait just 3 and a half days before asking for a first date, but a tenth (11%) have been turned off by a poor suggestion. Dinner (16%) and drinks (16%) are your best bet, with a sporting event or activity (12%) voted the worst choices

O2 Recycle offers cash payments for phones, tablets and wearables. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, the scheme is available to everyone, O2 customers and non-customers alike, and offers a price-match guarantee within seven days of placing your order.


*The engagement ring is made using the cameras, speakers, motherboard and sim card from two iPhone 5s smartphones. The band is cast in gold extracted from the motherboard of dozens of smart phones.

**Censuswide poll of 2,022 UK adults aged 16-38 in September 2019

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