Inside the world’s most ‘ethical’ phone

A Dutch social enterprise company launched the Fairphone 3, a “sustainable smartphone” that sources ethically and allows for repair.


August 28, 2019

The Dutch social enterprise Fairphone just announced the launch of the Fairphone 3, the world’s most sustainable smartphone.

So what makes a smartphone sustainable, you ask?

One of the big things setting Fairphone apart is its repairable design. Whereas other companies go by the “you break it, you buy a new one” model, Fairphone 3 is a sum of 7 modules. 

Something go wonky? Just order a replacement part. Driving the point home: When you unbox one of these bad boys, it comes with a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver. 

Fairphones are not designed to be most cutting-edge on the market… 

But they should last 5 to 7 years, thus reducing CO2 emissions … and maybe saving the world by kicking planned obsolescence in the pants. 

Fairphone has taken big steps toward making sure the people assembling its phones are happy. Rather than punishing manufacturers who fail to make margin, the company pays workers bonuses for increased performance — it’s a carrot, not a stick.

Fairphone looks beyond production to watch out for workers

The company has confirmed its tin and tungsten are conflict-free, its gold is fair-trade, and its copper and plastics are sourced from recycled goods (it’s working on developing a more sustainable system to source cobalt).

Fairphone knows it won’t take over the market — Apple fanboys are gonna fanboy

But establishing a respectable supply chain means other smartphone companies — and companies in other industries — could plug in and do some good.

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