MUST SEE: Fairphone - The Next Generation
When it comes to electronics, some people care about “fair trade” and recycling, but most base their buying decisions on performance and price. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? Read on to learn about the Fairphone…
What is a Fairphone?
Back in 2013, Amsterdam-based Fairphone launched the first “ethically sourced” smartphone. It was aimed at people who care about the social and environmental impacts of the gadgets they buy. It's the tech equivalent of fair-trade coffee.
Fairphone goes to heroic lengths to ensure the miners and factory workers who make its components are treated fairly, and to provide for recycling of its phone worldwide, even in places like Ghana where trash collection is rudimentary.
Fairphone’s first generation was not exactly compelling. The first Fairphone was widely criticized for its slow processor, short battery life, and already-obsolete Android Jelly Bean OS. Still, about 60,000 Fairphones are in users’ hands today.
The shortcomings will be addressed in the second generation Fairphone, says the company. Its price with be €525 ($591 USD). It will ship first to Europe, in the summer of 2015.
The specs of the Fairphone 2 include a 5-inch Gorilla Glass 3 screen with full HD resolution, dual SIM card capacity (4G LTE / 3G / 2G), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 32 GB of storage, 2 GB of RAM, and an 8 Mp rear-facing camera. Android 5.1 (Lollipop) will provide the smarts. Not exactly raising the bar, right? But wait!
More Than Playing Fair - It's Fixable Too
What made me sit up and take notice is the news that users will be able to repair and upgrade their Fairphone 2s. It’s hard to overstate how big a deal that is!
If the screen of your smartphone cracks, you can a) endure looking through the spiderweb, b) pay up to $100 to a local repair shop, or c) ship the phone to the manufacturer for warranty work. None of the above options is very appealing.
But if you had a Fairphone 2, you could simply order a replacement screen online, and when it arrived you would just pull two clips, pop out the broken screen, and snap in the new screen.
Other damage-prone components are replaceable, too. External buttons, ports, back plate, etc., are all designed to be replaced by anyone who can turn a screwdriver. But this unheard-of user maintainability goes even deeper than just the mechanical components.
The electronic components of a Fairphone 2 are also designed to be replaced by users. When a faster processor or better camera becomes available, you won’t have to buy an entire new phone.
What's in YOUR Junk Drawer?
It’s always seemed unfair to me that after spending hundreds of dollars on a shiny new smartphone it’s practically mandatory to spend dozens of dollars more on a silicone case to protect the darned thing from dings, scratches, and falls. The Fairphone 2 will feature a rubbery case that extends slightly beyond the glass screen, so that the rubber will take the direct impact of a face-first fall. The case is also swappable, and in the future may contain features such as NFC and wireless charging.
One thing that's not clear to me is how well the Fairphone will work outside of Europe, where it's first being made available. In the USA, I'm fairly certain it will work on GSM-based carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint, which operate on CDMA networks, are the question mark, and the Fairphone website does not address the issue.
Fairphone wants to distinguish itself as the "socially responsible" smartphone. And it's admirable that they consider not only the sourcing of the materials, but also the design, manufacturing and life cycle. But even more, I like the idea of a phone that's fixable and upgradable. That takes a significant bite out of the initial price tag. How many obsolete or broken phones do you have in a junk drawer?
You may not get excited about being fair to the people half a world away who provide the ingredients of your smartphone. Maybe you don't care much about the environmental impact of electronics either. But how do you like the idea of a phone that's fair to YOU?
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Jun 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- MUST SEE: Fairphone - The Next Generation (Posted: 16 Jun 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved