Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought an electronic gew-gaw that was swiftly replaced by a newer, better version of that same electronic gew-gaw within weeks of your purchase.
In fact, raise two. Because we’ve all done it at least that many times.
Bucking the trend: Fairphone, a 100% independently financed company (no venture capital here) that makes phones for people who are tired of constant upgrades, repairs and their own contributions to our seldom talked-about culture of e-waste.
After successfully selling out the first run of Fairphones in 2013, the company just began shipping the next-generation Fairphone 2 across Europe earlier this month (ironic, we know, but fret not: Fairphone 1 is still alive and kicking).
In design and ideology, the phone rejects just about all the principles that Apple, Samsung et al hold dear. First, user-friendly means more than just a pretty interface. It means real-life users can actually make repairs to the screen, camera and main circuit board with Fairphone-purchased components and a screwdriver. Easy. Well, at least as easy as IKEA.
That has implications for its lifespan too. Eschewing the planned obsolescence model of tech giants, Fairphone users can count on years — and years — of dependable service and software upgrades. It’s customizable, too, including two sim-slots to keep your work and play life distinct.
Fairphone 2: Modular design for you to open and repair:37
But perhaps the most important difference between the Fairphone and its contemporaries lies in their ethics. They take an ethical stance in the global tech market, sourcing their materials through the supply chain from conflict-free zones and manufacturers wherever possible.
In terms of processing power, well, it’s not a super-computer by any means. But the convenience of ditching lines, expensive repairs, and the freedom from the annual pressure to upgrade are winning a healthy support base.