Infographic: Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone
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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

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A Breakdown of the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

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Visualizing the Critical Metals in a Smartphone

In an increasingly connected world, smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives.

Over 60% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and smartphone adoption continues to rise in developing countries around the world.

While each brand has its own mix of components, whether it’s a Samsung or an iPhone, most smartphones can carry roughly 80% of the stable elements on the periodic table.

But some of the vital metals to build these devices are considered at risk due to geological scarcity, geopolitical issues, and other factors.

Smartphone PartCritical Metal
Touch Screen indium
Displaylanthanum; gadolinium; praseodymium; europium; terbium; dysprosium
Electronicsnickel, gallium, tantalum
Casingnickel, magnesium
Battery lithium, nickel, cobalt
Microphone, speakers, vibration unit nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium

What’s in Your Pocket?

This infographic based on data from the University of Birmingham details all the critical metals that you carry in your pocket with your smartphone.

1. Touch Screen

Screens are made up of multiple layers of glass and plastic, coated with a conductor material called indium which is highly conductive and transparent.

Indium responds when contacted by another electrical conductor, like our fingers.

When we touch the screen, an electric circuit is completed where the finger makes contact with the screen, changing the electrical charge at this location. The device registers this electrical charge as a “touch event”, then prompting a response.

2. Display

Smartphones screens display images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). Just like in most TVs and computer monitors, a phone LCD uses an electrical current to adjust the color of each pixel.

Several rare earth elements are used to produce the colors on screen.

3. Electronics

Smartphones employ multiple antenna systems, such as Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.

The distance between these antenna systems is usually small making it extremely difficult to achieve flawless performance. Capacitors made of the rare, hard, blue-gray metal tantalum are used for filtering and frequency tuning.

Nickel is also used in capacitors and in mobile phone electrical connections. Another silvery metal, gallium, is used in semiconductors.

4. Microphone, Speakers, Vibration Unit

Nickel is used in the microphone diaphragm (that vibrates in response to sound waves).

Alloys containing rare earths neodymium, praseodymium and gadolinium are used in the magnets contained in the speaker and microphone. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are also used in the vibration unit.

5. Casing

There are many materials used to make phone cases, such as plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and even gold. Commonly, the cases have nickel to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and magnesium alloys for EMI shielding.

6. Battery

Unless you bought your smartphone a decade ago, your device most likely carries a lithium-ion battery, which is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between the negative (anode) and positive (cathode) electrodes.

What’s Next?

Smartphones will naturally evolve as consumers look for ever-more useful features. Foldable phones, 5G technology with higher download speeds, and extra cameras are just a few of the changes expected.

As technology continues to improve, so will the demand for the metals necessary for the next generation of smartphones.

This post was originally featured on Elements

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Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

In this visualization, we rank the top 50 websites that receive the most internet traffic, from Google to CNN.

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Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

Estimates vary, but there are upwards of two billion websites in existence in 2023.

If we were to rank all of these websites according to their traffic numbers, we would see a classic power law distribution. At the low end, the vast majority of these websites would be inactive, receiving little to no traffic. On the upper end of the ranking though, a handful of websites receive the lion’s share of internet traffic.

This visualization, using data from SimilarWeb, takes a look at the 50 websites that currently sit at the top of the ranking.

Which Websites Get the Most Traffic?

Topping the list of most-visited websites in the world is, of course, Google. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has cemented its position as the go-to source for information on the internet. But Google’s dominance doesn’t stop there. The company also owns YouTube, the second-most popular website in the world. Together, Google and YouTube have more traffic than the next 48 websites combined.

The power of YouTube, in particular, is sometimes not fully understood. The video platform is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. As well, YouTube has the second highest duration-of-visit numbers in this top 50 ranking. (First place goes to the Chinese video sharing website, Bilibili.)

But Google and YouTube aren’t the only big players on the internet. Other websites in the top 50 ranking include social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. In particular, TikTok has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

Here’s the full top 50 ranking table form:

RankWebsiteMonthly TrafficCategoryCountry
#1google.com85.1BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#2youtube.com33.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#3facebook.com17.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#4twitter.com6.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#5instagram.com6.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#6baidu.com5.0BSearch Engines🇨🇳 China
#7wikipedia.org4.8BDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#8yandex.ru3.4BSearch Engines🇷🇺 Russia
#9yahoo.com3.3BNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#10whatsapp.com2.9BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#11xvideo.com2.8BAdult🇨🇿 Czechia
#12amazon.com2.6BMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#13pornhub.com2.5BAdult🇨🇦 Canada
#14xnxx.com2.3BAdult🇫🇷 France
#15live.com2.1BEmail🇺🇸 U.S.
#16yahoo.co.jp2.1BNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#17netflix.com2.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#18tiktok.com1.8BSocial Media Networks🇨🇳 China
#19docomo.ne.jp1.8BTelecommunications🇯🇵 Japan
#20reddit.com1.7BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#21office.com1.6BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#22linkedin.com1.6BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#23dzen.ru1.4BFaith & Beliefs🇷🇺 Russia
#24samsung.com1.4BConsumer Electronics🇰🇷 S. Korea
#25vk.com1.4BSocial Media Networks🇷🇺 Russia
#26xhamster.com1.3BAdult🇨🇾 Cyprus
#27turbopages.org1.3BNews & Media Publishers🇷🇺 Russia
#28mail.ru1.2BEmail🇷🇺 Russia
#29naver.com1.2BNews & Media Publishers🇰🇷 S. Korea
#30bing.com1.2BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#31microsoftonline.com1.1BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#32discord.com1.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#33twitch.tv1.1BGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#34bilibili.com1.0BAnimations & Comics🇨🇳 China
#35pinterest.com1.0BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#36zoom.us985.9MComputers Electronics & Tech🇺🇸 U.S.
#37weather.com985.7MWeather🇺🇸 U.S.
#38qq.com907.1MNews & Media Publishers🇨🇳 China
#39microsoft.com902.3MProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#40msn.com870.8MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#41globo.com840.1MNews & Media Publishers🇧🇷 Brazil
#42duckduckgo.com839.0MSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#43roblox.com795.7MGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#44quora.com775.9MDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#45news.yahoo.co.jp749.1MNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#46ebay.com728.0MMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#47aajtak.in724.1MNews & Media Publishers🇮🇳 India
#48nytimes.com702.2MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#49realsrv.com688.0MAdult🇺🇸 U.S.
#50cnn.com684.9MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.

Notable companies that have fallen out of the top 50 since our last version of this visualization are Walmart and PayPal. Notable entrants into the top 50 are Samsung and the New York Times.

The Geography of the 50 Most-Visited Websites

The United States is still home base for many of the world’s biggest websites, taking up 30 spots on this ranking. Of these 30 websites, half are operated by Big Tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Netflix.

Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea round out the top five.

Top 50 Websites by country
View static image

Things get interesting in the “other” category, which includes six websites. Two spots are taken up by Aaj Tak and Globo, which are large media publications in India and Brazil, respectively.

The remaining four websites—XVideos, PornHub, XHamster, and XNXX—specialize in adult content, and are located in a variety of countries. These are often referred to as “tube sites” since they are built on the YouTube model.

Realsrv, the only adult-oriented site in the top 50 located in the U.S., is interesting to delve into as well, since it’s far from a household name. The website essentially supports advertising efforts by redirecting users away from the content they were viewing over to another page (generally premium adult content). This is one of the key ways that adult websites earn revenue.

Where does this data come from?

Source: SimilarWeb

Notes: Websites listed include “all meaningful subdomains”, and categories in the graphic follow SimilarWeb’s categorization system. This is the third version of this graphic. As with previous versions, we aim to use data from November for the sake of consistency and to avoid seasonal fluctuations in traffic. One important detail to point out is that website traffic does not include app traffic, which is why popular platforms like WeChat don’t appear in this ranking.

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