Mobile phones remain remarkable devices whose origins and practical workings are, on the whole, mysterious to most users. A combination of over 30 minerals mined in far-off parts of the world, each phone is expertly woven into the sealed magic box that handles your communication. The curious may have stumbled upon ifixit.com, the online repair guide that manufacturers forgot to write. It is here that the story starts for a remarkable phone from Fairphone, a company whose ambitions begin with transforming your relationship to your phone.
The latest Fairphone is a capable Android smartphone that achieves the maximum repairability score offered by ifixit.com. This unique achievement promises that should something go wrong then you are in for a pleasant surprise. From replacing the screen to popping in a fresh camera, each modular component is easily available and requires no special equipment. This means that repairs are completed in moments. In contrast to the glue-and-obscure-screw closed-designs of its brethren, the Fairphone positively invites you to look inside. You will find the disassembly instructions printed on the phone, just grab your screwdriver. Combining repair potential with high quality components, the Fairphone aims to be the snug companion in your pocket for a long time to come.
If a good recipe combines idealism, pragmatism and adventure, this phone should be a hit. Its crowd-funded origins as a phone designed to highlight the plight created by conflict minerals has lent Fairphone a streak of idealism a mile wide. From raw material production through to recycling, Fairphone believes in supply chain ethics: avoidance of conflict minerals that fund warring factions; contributions to worker-directed welfare funds; choosing manufacturing partners who share their values on humane working environment and pay. Through these and a multitude of other choices, Fairphone aims to embody the reforms needed so that the production of electronics becomes something less like modern-day slavery.
The company’s third ambition is environmental. Only 7% of European mobile phones reach recycling facilities despite government e-recycling facilities. With more than 6.8 billion phones in use worldwide, there are a lot of phones that end up leaching their guts in landfill sites or burnt to a toxic cloud. By contrast, Fairphone have established their own recycling agreements to ensure that when the time comes their phones will die honourably.
Finally, here is an opportunity to simplify your busy life. For those with complicated lives the phone has two sim card slots. Alongside your regular sim you can have a buddy that, for example, gives you cheap calls while abroad. Or perhaps you have one for work and one for home. Either way, that second phone that so many people seem to have can now find its home inside the Fairphone.
Let each phone call be a call to action. My next phone will be a Fairphone. Do join me.