There are literally hundreds of different smartphones on the market. We buy them, hoard them sometimes, and enjoy their apps while blocking out everything and everyone around us. Ah, technology.
While all of them boast of new features and hardware year after year, the most common have drawbacks in some form or another–inability to upgrade, not easily fixed, and forget about customization. Oh, and should we even mention the ability to recycle? Yes, yes we should. Most mobile phones manufacturers produce devices that are difficult to recycle, winding up as ‘e-waste’ in landfills when they become obsolete or broken. Netherlands-based startup Fairphone aims to address all of those issues and, frankly, we’re surprised something like this hasn’t come along sooner.
To overcome those issues that have plagued many a manufacturer, Fairphone has developed a modular, more earth-friendly smartphone that can be easily repaired when broken and eliminates ‘conflict resources’ (tin, gold, tungsten, etc.) so it can be easily recycled.
The second iteration of the Fairphone is jam-packed with some impressive hardware for a mid-range smartphone–a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 5-inch 1080p display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, running Android 5.1 (Lollipop). It will also come with dual SIM card slots for expansion, 8-mega pixel rear camera and 2,420mAh battery. (If so modular, can we up that battery?)
One of the most interesting aspects is how they’re approaching the design and engineering for the 2.0 version. They’re taking a revers approach. “Usually a product gets specified and then the industrial designers create a wonderful concept that the engineering team is then tasked with achieving, often by cramming lots of things inside the phone and getting it to work.” says Olivier Hebert, CTO. “We are taking the reverse approach, designing our product from the inside out.”
“Designing from the inside out means balancing a complex set of goals including sustainability, aesthetics, ease-of-use and functionality while keeping at the forefront our design principles and storytelling ambitions. With this in mind, we carried out the engineering and mechanical design while developing the industrial design.”
While it may not contain bleeding-edge hardware and only sports a plastic casing, the fact that it can be repaired by the owner makes up for those drawbacks. The phone is meant to be used for years rather than a contract-enabled upgrade cycle most people use today. Another positive aspect of using the Fairphone 2 is that spare parts will be widely available upon the phone’s release, giving users a little bit more peace o’ mind from the get-go.
But wait, that’s not all! The social enterprise will be releasing upgrade modules in the near future, after the technology becomes more available. While they don’t say what those modules might be, chances are we’ll see an appearance by new battery, screen and camera options. The Fairphone 2 is now available in the UK for pre-order, listed at $587 USD with an expected delivery date in December. It’s unclear when the phone will be available in the US, however it’s likely it will debut early in 2016. Those interested in more information or pre-ordering the phone can visit fairphone.com.