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What is Fairphone, the planet-friendly smartphone?

The Amsterdam-based company has launched its next-generation device, the Fairphone 4, which promises to be a fully sustainable smartphone 

The Fairphone 4
The Fairphone 4

Fairphone, which is known for challenging conventional smartphone manufacturing norms and replacing them with sustainable and ethical alternatives, has launched its next-generation device, the Fairphone 4, that promises to be an upgradeable, repairable and sustainable smartphone that can be used for many years without any hassle.

What is a ‘Fairphone’? 

Based in Amsterdam, the company founded Tessa Wernink and Bas Van Abel in 2013 creates planet-friendly smartphones that are designed and produced with a lower environmental impact. Fairphone's devices are designed for longevity, easy repair, and modular upgrades. “Our goal is to make your phone’s hardware last as long as possible, and to provide the support to keep its software up to date. The longer you can keep your phone, the smaller its environmental footprint,” says the company on its website. It uses recycled materials used in consumer electronics, and tries to move closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of its phones, researching electronics recycling options and reducing electronic waste worldwide. It maps its supply chain to reduce harmful methods of extraction and practises, and claims that it is working to incorporate fairer, recycled, and responsibly mined materials in its phones.  

What's a modular smartphone?

A modular smartphone is one that's made using components that can be independently upgraded or replaced as modules in order to reduce electronic waste, and make phones that can be repaired instead of replaced. Apart from Fairphone, a few other companies also offer this option: the Librem 5 by Purism; Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play by Motorola Mobility; Shift6mq, Shift6m and Shift5me by SHIFT; and the Pinephone, by Pine64.

What's this new Fairphone and does it work like a regular smartphone?  

Fairphone 4 uses a similar modular design to the company's previous models but with more powerful internals, along with a promise of two major Android updates. The software support of the phone will stretch until the end of 2025. The modular design allows the user to repair and modify the phone easily. It comes with 5G compatibility, a 5-year warranty and is electronic waste-neutral. It has a custom Android 11 operating system, an e-SIM slot for an additional number, 48MP quality main camera lens, and two memory/storage combinations of 6 GB/128 GB and 8 GB/256 GB.

It has an immersive 6.3inch Full HD+ display, an aluminium body and a soft, recycled back cover. “This device is a challenge to the industry to rethink the modern smartphone: True innovation should be about solving problems, rather than creating new ones,” says the company. 

What's wrong with regular smartphones?

Most smartphone companies have been manufacturing models that depend on intensive resource extraction and industrial production, often sustained by exploitative labour practices. A US lawsuit in 2019 condemned major tech companies for profiting from child labour in Congolese cobalt mines. These methods of extraction also create "cancer villages" and cause rare cancers in factories where these phones are manufactured.

Can I buy a Fairphone in India?

The Fairphone 4 is currently on pre-order at the company's website and will be shipped from 25 October. It costs €579.00 (approximately 50,000) minus shipping charges. India is not listed on the website under countries for which the company has calculated standard shipping charges. Email them for further information, or get someone to pick it up in Europe.  

(With inputs from ANI)

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