Smartphones are among the best inventions the world has ever known, but they can lose some of their appeal when you realize how they are made. The production process typically involves “conflict minerals” and underpaid and exploited employees. “That’s how the world works” some will say, but that’s not entirely true. Dutch startup Fairphone proves that it’s possible to make a smartphone with respect for both the environment and human rights. The company’s second phone called Fairphone 2 just went official featuring modular construction.
Fairphone 2 modular phone that respects environment and human rights
Fairphone 2 has a traditional bar design with rubberized body, however, every single component can be easily replaced by an average cell phone user. All you need is a screw driver, very basic skills necessary to use it and good eyesight because those screws are pretty small. Many smartphones come with swappable batteries and replacing the screen is not that difficult either; however, in the case of Fairphone 2, all components are self-contained, including the processor, camera, microphone and many more.
The Fairphone 2 sports a 5-inch Full HD display protected by 0.7 mm thick Gorilla Glass 3 and is powered by a Snapdragon 801 chip paired with 2GB of RAM. Other key features include an 8-megapixel main camera, 32GB of expandable storage, 4G LTE, 2,420 mAh battery and dual-SIM support. The handset will be released with Android 5.1 Lollipop on board; however, Fairphone plans to make a lot of its software open source to enable easy development of custom ROMs.
According to Fairphone CEO Bas van Abel, swapping components of the phone is a bonding experience since you take responsibility to maintain it, leading to a deeper relationship. This, in turn, may encourage you to keep the device for as long as possible this way prolonging its life cycle and reducing the amount of electronic waste.
The Fairphone 2 will go on sale in Europe this fall for €525 which would be about $590. Pre-orders for the phone will start this summer, though, you can already sign up on the manufacturer’s site to be among the first to be notified when pre-orders begin.
The price may seem high especially since the phone doesn’t come with the most premium hardware, but keep in mind that Fairphone sources components from conflict-free mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, the company promises that profit from the sales will be used to boost a worker-controlled welfare fund in China, and electronic waste recycling program founded in Ghana. Moreover, the fact that you can replace a single component instead of having to buy a whole new phone will account for savings in the long run so it’s a win-win deal for employees making the phone, the end user and the manufacturer itself.