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The smartphone that cares for people and the planet

Published date: November 2019

fairphone congo map.jpg

Not long ago, mobile phones were a rare commodity, used mainly by businesspeople. Nowadays the smartphone has replaced the PC as the most important connected device. 

Over the last year, over 1.5 billion smartphones were sold and around 78% of people in the UK own a smartphone. The avalanche of new and cheaper devices in our daily life has transformed the way we act and consume. There are two stand-out issues around the production: conflict minerals, and the pollution and harm caused by electronics waste and manufacture.

An exciting development was the release of the Fairphone 3, the latest model in the Fairphone line. This project was developed in 2013 by a group of people who set out to create the world’s fairest, most sustainable phone. Fairphone aims to change the industry from the inside, sourcing as many materials as possible in both human and environmentally kind ways.

The phone’s modular construction means it’s fully repairable, lasting much longer than many other smartphones. Fairphone is fighting against a market trend where the average phone is replaced every 24 months, creating a huge environmental impact. 

Impeccable ethical credentials

A smartphone consists of around 40% metals (predominantly copper, gold, platinum, silver and tungsten), 40% plastics and 20% ceramics and trace materials. Fairphone go straight to the source to make sure they’re creating positive change. One material at time, they’re working to incorporate fairer, recycled, and responsibly mined materials in their phones – to increase industry and consumer awareness. Inside the handset. There’s a rather cool Easter Egg (as shown in image), showing a map of the Democratic Republic of Congo inside the phone. This is a nod to the country being the source of some of the phone’s conflict-free minerals. Fairphone is the first mobile to use Fairtrade-certified gold, helping to make Fairphone the world’s most ethical and sustainable mobile phone manufacturer.

Their ethical credentials have been consolidated by The Guardian. The newspaper chose Fairphone 3 as ‘the best ethical alternative’ when you look to buy a new phone. Besides, iFixit gave Fairphone 3 a perfect 10/10 score for repairability as most of the components inside the modules are fully replaceable.

Fairphone are moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of their phones, researching electronics, recycling options and reducing electronic waste worldwide. In addition, they launched a recycling program available for any phone, following their commitment to reduce electronic waste, giving a second life to the valuable raw materials that are inside of smart phones.

Good working conditions

Fairphone is trying to make the smartphone journey fairer, giving a voice to people who care. Fairphone puts people and planet first, trying to innovate ways to improve job satisfaction for workers in the industry. 

The majority of the world’s smartphones are manufactured in China, but the country’s fast, affordable production comes at the cost of workers. Fairphone works together with a variety of production partners, labour right experts and NGOs, developing innovative programs to improve the workers conditions.

Fairphone 3: What you get

Fairphone 3 may not be the best-looking phone you’re going to see in 2019, however its most relevant features lies beneath the surface, in how is produced. 

It comes with a 5.65-inch Full HD screen, easy to use Android 9 and two Nano SIMs slots. The camera is a single-lens 12 MP f/1.8 rear camera. 

A couple of months after its launch, users and experts had the opportunity to try it and their verdict is a question of weighing up its qualities against the position it takes on the ethics of smartphone production. 

Fairphone 3 is not the best option for you if you want the best performance, “it’s a handset that will cope with the basics of calls, texts, emails, browsing the internet…(which is fine, for a lot of us)”, Techradar said. 

But if you care about sustainability, Fairphone could be your next smartphone. Techradar assessed that it’s a “5-star superstar in terms of repairability, longevity, and the way it has been put together – from the way minerals are mined to the assembly line working conditions.” 

If you are looking for some ethical technology, making sure that your next smartphone was not produced using child labour or conflicting minerals, then you have found the perfect product with Fairphone 3. The Phone Co-op, the only telecoms co-operative in the UK, has partnered with Fairphone since 2013, providing Fairphone 3 for customers and a business committed to a fairer world. 

Would you like to join the Fairphone revolution?


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