Purpose – It is not surprising that proper implementation of reverse logistics systems can result in better customer loyalty and reduction in operational costs due to reuse or remanufacturing of some parts. This is particularly important for those industries with a short product life cycle, like the mobile phone industry. The major objective of this paper is to present the results of a pilot survey with follow-up interviews, which was conducted for investigating the practices of reverse logistics in this industry. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire survey was sent to the industrial participants, and follow-up interviews were conducted with the respondents. Findings – On the one hand, reverse logistics systems are important to the industry; on the other hand, the low level of importance of reverse logistics relative to the other issues is still a major barrier in realizing reverse logistics systems. Originality/value – It is not clear what the critical factors are in designing reverse logistics systems for the mobile phone industry. Based on the results, it is interesting to learn how to reach a compromise in dealing with this dilemma.