You might remember the original Fairphone from back in 2013 – at first glance it looks like any other smartphone, but read the small print and you’ll find a device built with an emphasis on responsibly sourced materials, and made by fairly paid workers. It’s been a couple of years since the original device broke cover, and the company is back to address those aging specs (and to reaffirm its mission statement) with the Fairphone 2.
Running on Android 5.1 Lollipop, the Fairphone 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 801, with 2 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage, plus a microSD slot for expansion. The 5-inch panel has 1,920 x 1,080 resolution (about 441 PPI), and there’s LTE connectivity on board as well as dual SIM card slots. That’s a big jump up over the original 2013 handset, but these still aren’t quite top-shelf specs, sitting roughly in line with what we’d expect from an early 2014 flagship.
Of course the Fairphone 2 isn’t just about the specs, as like its predecessor it does its best to earn its name. For starters, the device itself is designed in a modular manner, so it’s easy for the user to take it apart and repair themselves (check out the video at the bottom to see this in action).
The back cover is also built to wrap around the front edge of the display, acting as a protective case, making it perhaps a bit less likely that you’ll drop and destroy your handset.
The project’s goal is to make supply chains more transparent, attempting to trace the exact origin of all raw materials used. At present, you can see which suppliers individual components have been sourced from, as well as estimated manufacturing locations.
The company uses as many minerals as possible from responsible sources within conflict zones, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The idea is to contribute to ethical practices in areas where the opposite is the norm.
Worker welfare is also a priority, with a contribution from every device sold going into a fund at the factory in Suzhou, China. That money will be used to help train the workers to better represent themselves, teaching skills for expressing concerns about working conditions and negotiating with management, as well as for projects suggested by the workers themselves.
It’s also about better communication with consumers about where their money is going, with users able to view a detailed breakdown of the costs involved in making each unit. You can see exactly where the money has been spent, with 65 percent of the retail price going into physically building each handset.
Aside from its modular nature, there might not be anything too exciting about the Fairphone 2 hardware, but there’s a lot to like about what the company is doing behind the scenes.
The Fairphone 2 is available for pre-order in the Europe for €525 (US$585), and is expected to ship in November. You can check out the video below for a look at the device’s modular nature.