You may have heard of "blood diamonds," but conflict minerals are a problem for smartphones too. That's what Fairphone set to address in 2013 with a crowdfunding campaign, and now the Amsterdam-based company is back with the sequel.
It's a highly modular design you can take apart with a screw driver and easily replace components. Screen replacements are possible on most phones, but you can replace the CPU, camera, microphone and other parts of the Fairphone 2 by ordering new ones and swapping them. This isn’t Project Ara, you get a traditional-loooking phone, but everything is designed to swap out a lot like a desktop computer.
The phone will launch with Android 5.1 Lollipop, but the company plans to make a lot of its software open source to enable easy development of custom ROMs.
The body of the phone is rubberized while the 5" 1080p screen on the front is guarded by 0.7mm thick Gorilla Glass 3. The innards are a bit behind modern flagships with a Snapdragon 801 chipset with 2GB RAM and an 8MP camera, but you get 4G LTE, two SIM slots and a microSD slot.
An expansion port is left on the back for sensors enhancements to come in the future. Fairphone CEO Bas van Abel says swapping components of the phone is a bonding experience since you take responsibility to maintain it, leading to a deeper relationship.
This modularity should also allow the Fairphone 2 to be upgraded with newer hardware, something like Samsung's Evolution Kits for their Smart TVs.
The Fairphone 2 will be available in Europe in Autumn 2015 at a steep €525. You can sign up for the pre-order (which starts this summer) here. Keep in mind that Fairphone sources components from conflict-free mines, while sources where human rights are trampled offer lower prices.
There are still some conflict minerals used in the Fairphone 2, but the company is working to cut those out of its supply chain. You can read more about what Fairphone is doing to improve the lives of workers.
By the way, the original Fairphoen sold out earlier this year, 60,000 units in total. The original crowdfunding campaign moved around 10,000 at €325.
The Fair Phone is really a good idea. It cam be repaired and extended.Very open source hardware. And the camera is placed into the corner. 👍
That's exactly what it is about. In the future, Fairphone may launch extra-ram modules with higher capacities, yet compatible with the current phone body and innards.
I think that's the idea, one day they'll have hardware upgrades so you only need to buy a part instead of a whole new phone