A phone that lets the user be in 100 percent control of the device.
“Remember, swapping out your battery is always faster than charging”
Okay, you got your new phone. But was does that mean for your old phone? Does it go into your drawer, dusting away? Well, what if one company can change that? With a phone that is not only sustainable and better for the environment, but a product that gives more power to the consumer.
At first look, it is a pretty average phone. Clean design with a flat front and back. Curved corners with a little on the chunky side for the phone. Nothing too special. However, this phone is designed from the ground up to be sustainable, upgradable, repairable, and modular by you! But how is this achieved?
It all starts with the packaging. The box itself is made 100% from recycled materials and is printed using soy inc. As you unbox the phone, you realize that it is really easy to get into the phone by anyone. You don’t have to have to be a professional, a repair shop, or just someone who knows bits and pieces about phones to disassemble the phone completely. The rubber back of the phone easily pops and reveals the insides of the phone. The battery is accessible and can be replaced (just like the good old days). The whole phone itself holds on by just 12 screws!
So, picture the scenario like this: after long use of your phone, the modular USB type C port wears down. Instead of asking repair shops for help, you can just go over to the Fairphone website and purchase the part yourself. Then, when you get it, you can take your phone apart and replace the USB type C port with ease.
Fairphone sees the future where everyone can fix something broken, or something they want to upgrade. However, it begs the question: just how many compromises must you make to deliver a handset with a €579 price tag compared to what you can get from the likes of Google, Samsung, and Apple for the same price?
The phone comes in three different colors. Either grey, green, or the signature speckled green. As standard, you get;
- 128GB/256GB of memory and 6GB/8GB of RAM.
- A 3905 mAh removable Li-ion battery
- Dual 48MP rear cameras and a 25MP front camera
- Dual SIM, both 5G enabled
- Unique modular design with IP54 (which is pretty good, considering how easy you can take this phone appart)
- 5 year warranty on the phone itself and 5 year garantee to support the phone with the availbility of the part
So, for the price point, you get an average phone. But that shouldn’t be a problem. In fact the company themselves implied that in order to make the phone easily modular for the consumer, they have to make the phone with the most reliable and accesseble parts.
More important than the specs are what the internals of the Fairphone 4 are actually made of. In here, there’s Fairtrade-certified gold, ethically sourced aluminum and tungsten. Recycled tin, rare earth minerals and plastics. Fairphone also aims to turn these materials into a phone as ethically as possible, thanks to initiatives that aim to improve working conditions for the miners and factory workers involved in the phone’s supply chain. Each phone is also “e-waste neutral,” Fairphone claims, since the company will recycle either a phone or an equivalent amount of e-waste with each sale.
If you are on the market for a new phone, or just looking to pick up the new Fairphone 4 for yourself, you have to compare it to other similarly priced smartphones out there. For example, let’s see how the Fairphone holds up to the Google Pixel 6.
The Google Pixel 6 is similarly priced, however, the specs and performance, are just on a different level. The Pixel’s tensor chip feels equivalent to the high-end Snapdragon 8 series. The Fairphone, on the other hand, is more mid-range, with a Snapdragon 750G. That incredible removable battery is only 3900mAh, compared to the Pixel’s 4600mAh battery. The display, is pretty big and bright, covered in Gorilla Glass 5, but it is 1080p with a 60 Hertz LCD panel. So, another weak point for the Fairphone.
As for the camera, it has a good sensor that generally is the same as in a Samsung Galaxy A series. You’ll have good photos in decent light, but as soon as the conditions get tough, the sensor kind of falls apart.
In trying to minimize these consequences, at least for its own devices, Fairphone strikes a happy. While certainly more could be achieved in terms of sustainability if the Fairphone 4 costs over €1,000, but if you were to lower your expectations a bit and buy a smartphone with a guaranteed promise of 5 years’ worth of updates for €579, not to mention being easily repaired when damaged, that’s not a bad deal after all! In fact, you might even be able to sleep a little better at night. Whether it’s Fairtrade or organic food or sustainably produced clothing, there’s the expectation that you’ll have to pay a price premium for ethically-produced goods.
So, if you just need a smartphone for daily use and aren’t concerned about having the best camera or most premium-feeling device, then you’re the kind of person who can live with the Fairphone 4. It’s a great €200 phone that happens to be priced at €579. That’s the price of sustainability.
One thing to keep in mind, it’s that Fairphone is not a big company and will never compete with manufacturers like Apple or Huawei for the top spot in the smartphone world. They are limited in their supplies and can’t really produce their own chips. However, we often overlook companies like Fairphone and praise the mega-companies, as they are the ones that make phones “unique” that are “pushing the limits”. But that is the straight opposite of average and sustainability, something that Fairphone aims to achieve.