A modular phone that can be upgraded and replaced piece-by-piece is now available for pre-order. The Fairphone 2 is designed to have an extended life as part of an overall enivronmentally-friendly philosophy by the makers.
The original concept of the phone was designed to be “socially conscious” and deal with the problem that some of the key metals and other elements needed to create phones are mainly or solely mined in areas with questionable human rights records.
Fairphone’s emphasis with the original handset was reducing the use of “conflict” components and setting up welfare funds which are controlled by the workers who mine the materials. It says it’s also working to make its supply chain more transparent and carry out inspections of suppliers.
For its second handset it developed the environmental theme further by trying to make as many of the components as easily replaceable as possible. While it’s not quite as straightforward a design as some rival modular handsets (which have yet to get past the concept stage), many parts of the Fairphone 2 can be replaced with nothing more than a screwdriver and a careful hand. The back cover includes a diagram showing which part is which.
Despite the format, it appears to be a perfectly serviceable high-end handset, running Android 5.1 and boasting a five-inch screen, quad-core processor and 4G LTE support.
The company is also exploring the idea of shipping the phones without a case to reduce shipping costs and the need to maintain stock. The customer would then pick up a case from a local 3D printing firm working in partnership with Fairphone. Alternatively, those customers with access to a 3D printer could get the design file without charge.
The phone is scheduled for shipping in November and costs €525. Initially it will only be available in Europe, with no firm timetable on a worldwide rollout.